Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Setting Summer in Motion: How to Have a GREAT Summer Break

Boy, if that isn't a long title, my husband would be disappointed in me!  But, hey, it covers all the bases!  After all, most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are wondering; just what do I do with this summer set before me?  Oh, sure, we may have a few plans here in there.  If you saw my blog post this weekend in Weekly Wrap-Up, you saw my bucket list:

Call me juvenile or carefree... it makes no difference.  I am a list maker.  I am educated as an Early Childhood instructor and, even though I am in my 40s, I still feel the need for some good old fashioned construction paper, pretty pens, and glue sticks now and again!  What good is life if you don't have a little fun?!  Interestingly enough, I got the idea to make a common bucket list into more of a production from an almost 13 year old at this mamma's site.  I did it to inspire my kids (didn't work, apparently they are onto me now!), instead, I have inspired myself.  Today, I hope to inspire YOU!

Past, present and dreaming... here are a few ideas to set summer in motion and have a GREAT break!

1. Survey your summer
Every year I take stock of what special events are expected.  Do we have any visitors coming (or are we planning to go).  Is there anything needed to be prepared for summer visits.  I make sure to schedule those things in so I don't find myself rushing around at the last minute with preparations.  Once you know (approximately) where you will be and when, take it a step further...

2. Become a tourist in your own town
Each summer I make a trip to the local visitor center, city website or the town's Business Bureau for information on ALL the summer happenings within our radius.  Our old home-town use to print a "101 things to do..." manual each summer.  I would go through the materials I collected to comb out events and activities I found interesting and applicable for my family.  Then I copied a basic blank calendar for June, July and August and began filling in the various events in our area.  Not that we could or did go to ALL of them but we could definitely be more deliberate in our activities.  For example, wild berry picking peaked in late July, one guide had an article on all the best campgrounds to visit when berry picking so we would plan camping trips accordingly.  Also, for many years we lived a bit of a drive from the county's main town but every summer they did a picnic in the park with music.  We planned our trips to town around events like this and made a day of it. 

See your town through your child's eyes.  Try something new and revel in the simple joy of something old.

3. Slow down
It is hard to switch gears from full-time schooling to part-time or no schooling in the summer.  But right now I am going to give you permission to SLOW DOWN!!!  Whether on a picnic, at the beach or lounging in the back yard; take time to do some needlepoint, read that book you never had the time for in the din of the school year, sketch, or just people watch!  When God created the earth he rested.  Not because he needed to (he is God, he doesn't 'need' rest) but to set us an example.  Housewives work hard.  When dad clocks out at work each day he often comes home and rests.... while mom keeps right on.  It is our joy and our blessing to serve our family in this way... it is also our reminder that our rest and pockets of peace may not always coincide with our husbands.  The important thing is that we DO get them so we can be at our best the rest of the time!  If rest is good enough for God (and the Son of God) then it is good enough for me! 

Consequently, some of my favorite memories from my children's younger years are Picnic in the Park with live music while I worked on embroidery or crocheting and the kids danced and twirled to the music or sketched in their sketch books next to me.  Similar vantages fill my mind of our beautiful beach side as well (I sure miss that place!)

4. Who said you had to grow up?
BE A KID with your kids this summer.  I'm not saying throw ALL responsibility to the wind but last I checked, water fights really don't hurt.  Surprise someone unsuspecting with a bucket full of water or a turned on hose (it's on my bucket list this year!!!) and be prepared, even in your good clothes, for retaliation!!  Laugh loud and play hard.  See the world through your children's eyes from toddler on up to teenager.  Share life and summer with your kids.  One of my favorite summers was spent walking through this book with my kids:


I didn't just give it to them to read and do, no.  It became our summer manual for excitement and exploration of the world around us.  My darling explorers were ages 9 - 14 that year (my oldest opted out only because he was working all summer!!)  We marveled at the simple things and found ourselves impressed by the unexpected.  One day, the glint of an old abandoned railroad track in the middle of a scavenger hunt for "shiny things" had us on an adventure following the rails to see where they would lead.  I reveled sparking and sharing in the excitement with my young adventurers while still balancing my parental responsibility to stay safe as we trekked on.

5. It isn't about the money.
Too many people miss the opportunities to truly relish life and, in particular, summer vacation because they are wrapped up in what they can't afford or what they don't have room in the schedule to do.  Our favorite summer I spoke about above, was spent on a missionary's budget (aka, we had NO money).  The most money I spent was on that book!!!  The kids joined a reading program at the library and earned free ice-cream at certain points throughout the program which we went and enjoyed on a hot day.  In #2 above, most of the ideas I would jot down on my calendar were either free or might cost a gallon of gas.... if that.  I watched for free days at museums and the pool (our pool would have them once a month through the summer).  We were always on the lookout for promotions and opportunities to do something fun without breaking the bank.

6. Carpe Diem
This, too, is on my bucket list.  It was a sudden inspiration to round it all out and sum my summer ambitions up: Carpe Diem (Sieze the Day) because Tempus Fugit (Time Flies).  I have always been an adventurer.  They use to call me the gypsy when I was a child.  I spent many a summer on the road with my dad who was an over-the-road truck driver or my grandma who visited family in other states.  I even found adventure in venturing just two townships over at my paternal grandparent's house for a week at a time.  When I was home, I set to purpose each day of summer break with some sort of great adventure whether it was to write a novel or build a cardboard house.  Even now, as all my children are middle school/high school/college.... the adventurer in me is still quite alive and a need to seize the day is an integral part of making even the most mundane moments of life, memorable.  My life won't last forever here.  My children will not be in my hands much longer.  When we all look back on our days and, especially our summers, I want them to be remembered as something we lived to the fullest.

This doesn't mean we sign up for every club, every sport, every swim class.  Quite the opposite actually, it means we consider what makes life full and wonderful and worth waking up to.  First, of course, is our purpose to glorify God and second, I believe, is by building family and memories full of joy and hope and laughter and adventure in all the simplest things as we live in the Light of His Glory.

7.  Pictures are optional
If you take them, be creative, have fun, be spontaneous.  And if you don't.... don't feel guilty!  Pictures of the simple things are best.  Here are some of my favorites from the blog from summers past:

So.  Whether it is a weekly picnic at a local park, a walk down a different street or cooking out on a hot summer day, I pray your summer is blessed with wonderful memories and moments you can treasure for every year beyond.




  1. Oh there is sooo much to do in the summer for free! We love the parks, petting zoos and going out for ice cream! these are some great ideas!

    1. I never tire of petting zoos! Thanks for visiting (and sharing!) :-)

  2. Love these tips! Our city also publishes a publication that has free or frugal kid and family friends events held throughout the summer. Now that my kids are older I should really go through the list and write things down on my calendar. I also agree that there are so many fun activities do do for free. I try to plan for one or two special events every few mow months to keep the costs down but at the end of the day my kids have just as much fun with a cheap plastic kiddie pool and buckets :)

    1. Amen :-) My kids LOVE recycling. Talk about cost effective 'toys'!! We clean and keep plastic storage containers food comes in and I find them with rolls of dollar store packing tape making the craziest contraptions in the water of a wading pool or in the playroom on a rainy day!