As a parent of four children, ranging in age from three to eighteen, I’ve made my share of mistakes when it comes to summertime activities. Over the years, I have learned to slow it down, allowing summer to set its own stride.
TIP #1 DON’T OVER-SCHEDULE
The expected pace of our children’s lives have stepped up a notch since I was in their shoes. I swear, by the time they are two, they are expected to be proficient in algebra and know a language or two. The demands we place on our children is tremendous. Whether it be in academics, or athletics, or the arts–our kids are being taught to excel. No wonder we see kids reaching burn-out in their extra-curricular activities by the time they embark on high school. They have been pushed too far for too long. Therefore, it is imperative to allow your children to have some much needed down time. Some “scheduled” time to do nothing but chill.
TIP #2 GET AWAY
Take time to relax and get away. Many of us run a very busy, overloaded schedule most of the time. We may see our families degenerate to a level of survival. Going through the motions and getting kinda ugly with each other too. There is a reason God Himself rested on the seventh day (see Genesis 1). Was God tired? Of course not..He’s God. No, He was giving us an example of what we need to do. Regardless of who you are or how indispensable you think you might be…you need some down-time. A time to break-away from the normal routine and rethink life’s priorities.
TIP #3 PACK JESUS
For years, we had family friends who would disappear in the summer. They had a house on the beach and quickly retreated as soon as school was dismissed each year. One year, upon returning to school and church, our young daughter asked her friend, “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you all summer.” Her little friend responded, “Oh, we don’t do church in the summer. We take a vacation from God.” Want to know where this family is today? They no longer make their faith a priority. They have drifted far, far away…to the devastating point where the wife no longer believes Jesus is even real.
Whatever summer plans you have…take Jesus with you. Make Him a priority in whatever you do. Otherwise, you may find the words of the Casting Crown song coming true, “It’s a slow fade.”
TIP #4 REMEMBER OTHERS
I know this may go without saying…but reach out to those around you. This is a great time to have the neighbors over for burgers & dogs (or tofu & greens…whatever flips your grill). You may be surprised how many lonely people are within walking distance from your front door. Go ahead, go out of your way to find them. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a friend.
TIP #5 STAY ENGAGED
Lazy summer days can lead to lazy parenting. It brings me to tears to see how quickly our kids can be tempted to try drinking, drugs, or sex which easily abounds all around them. I don’t think I can emphasize this enough–DON’T BE A NAIVE PARENT. As a pediatric E.R. physician, my husband hears the parents of patients say this over and over again, “I didn’t think this would ever happen to me.”
Talk to your kids. Check-up on their social media. Ask the tough questions. Wait for them to come home.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—Psalm 103:17
As a fellow-parent, I am in this journey with you. Let’s not give up the fight. God has given us a tremendous responsibility as parents…
and an amazing gift as well!
What tips do you have for summer? Please share!