Back when my kiddos were small, it seemed like we had plenty of time for everything. Now, with only two years before my oldest graduates from high school, trying to hold on to the time we have left feels like holding on to sand. That’s why this summer was going to be my “Choose Wisely” summer. Last summer, we said yes to just about every opportunity for my kids to stay involved and active. It was too much. This summer, our calendar is still filled with much, but we tried to say no to too much. While there are some things (like camps and sports and jobs), we are not doing all the things.
Three weeks into summer and I’d give us a solid B. There is still the chaos of arranging carpools for activities and facilitating their social lives. (In our neck of the woods, we don’t have public transportation and the kids need rides to camps and jobs.) But this year all the kids have a little less on the calendar.
Trust me, there’s some fear. All the other kids are doing more. Are they? Or does it just look like it on social media? What if we miss out because we didn’t participate? But if we do participate, we’ll miss out on something else—the summer season of rest. But I want them to experience it all! They can’t. None of us can. We all have our whole lives to discover and experience new things. Let’s not try to cram it all in now and stress everyone out.
We only have each other for a few more years, so here are 4 tips to find a way to enjoy both individual development and family memories.
Determine your values. How will all these activities help them grow into a contributing member of society? Which activities do they enjoy, and which can be set aside for a time?
1. Have a Nothing on the Calendar Day. (Do not let the kids get away with thinking this means they don’t still have to do chores.) Lay on the ground and pick out cloud shapes, have a pile of craft supplies ready, read books, have a water fight. Or make it a No Technology Day.
2. Look for simple fun. Poll the family and find out what they want to do this summer. Include big things like amusement parks and art museums, but don’t overlook modest things like catching fireflies, making a pie, playing HORSE in basketball, having a Biggest Cannonball Splash contest.
3. Use screen time wisely. Set a time limit. Or have certain times of day when devices must be turned in. Log into Khan Academy to work on their math. Make sure you use this amazing tool intentionally.
4. Stop caring so much about what other people do. Phew. That’s a hard one, right? We see that everyone else is <fill in the blank>. As adults, you will set the standard for how your kids handle peer and societal pressure. You model how to set boundaries around your time and energy. You also model, with joy, that each family is different and God sets us in just the right family at just the right time.
How have you facilitated family time? Let me know in the comments!
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. This summer she gets a sold A+ for keeping her s’mores basket stocked at all times. She doesn’t love regular s’mores, so her family came up with s’moreos. Open up an oreo, add a peanut butter cup and marshmallow, and top with the other half of the cookie. Try it with nutter butters too. (She’s also open to hearing how you jazz up plain ol’ s’mores.)