Do you have big plans for the summer?
Maybe you’ve got visions of camping trips, sandy beaches, and long naps dancing through your mind. You’ve got a list of activities all mapped out with dates and locations carefully selected.
Other people prefer to keep summer loose and their schedules open. The fewer things set in stone, the better.
I think there’s a lot of value to both of those approaches.
That’s especially true if you have a house full of little ones and the idea of your kids being out of school for three months sends you into a near panic.
One of the challenges is figuring out how to balance unstructured time with planned activities. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to manage your summer schedule – just remember the letters P – E – A.
The first letter stands for “pause.” At least once a day, find a moment where everyone in the family can connect. That could be over dinner or reading a book at bedtime or even taking a walk through the neighborhood.
That’s a good time to actually discuss your summer activities and to talk about what everyone in the family would like to do. Ask your kids what would make the summer fun for them.
“E” stands for a “weekly escape.” Families often put a lot of effort into scheduling long-term plans for the summer, but it’s helpful to think of smaller ideas you can do together each week as well.
Make it something simple. Maybe your family would enjoy a trip to the local pool or a city park. Go for ice cream, bowling, putt-putt golfing, the movies, or a hike. It’s something you can do together to have fun, to laugh, and to enjoy each other.
And, finally, “A” is for “adventure.” This is the big event you plan for your summer vacation, like a family camping excursion or that special trip you’ve been saving for. Maybe it’s a mission trip. Or if money is an issue, think of something local like volunteering at a shelter, a local church, or a community organization.
One last thing to plan for is the crises that will come up. Whether you’re camping or hanging around town, problems are inevitably going to arise. As a family, if you expect things not to work out from time to time, you’ll be better able to roll with changes. Manage your expectations.
So, this summer, don’t let all those empty spaces on the calendar send you into a panic. Remember the acronym P – E – A – pause, escape, and adventure – and you’ll find plenty of time for rest and connection as a family.
Joining us on our program today is Greg Smalley, our vice president of Family Ministries here at Focus, and his wife Erin. Together, they do a great job in helping lead our marriage outreach. We’ll talk through ideas for managing your family’s summer schedule, having fun and staying connected, and investing in your child’s spiritual growth.