While we’re not technically in the summer season yet, the weather and the academic calendar tell me we’re there!
Summer can look different for each of us depending on what life stage we’re in at the moment. You could be dealing with young children, sending a teen off to a weeklong camp for the first time, or fully in the empty nest years.
I’m in one of those in-between stages, but here are three things that are unique about this summer for our family.
We’re planning a wedding.
It’s the last summer that our older daughter will live at home.
It’s our first summer in our new house.
Each of those is informing what’s important to us this summer. From scheduling wedding-related appointments to purposefully making memories to checking out the pool in our new neighborhood, things look a little different from any summer before or any that will follow.
What’s unique about your summer? Is there something that sets it apart from other ones? Maybe the dynamics between siblings are changing. The older children may be able to do more independently and take on more responsibility. Perhaps you’re in a different position with your health or employment.
Regardless of what makes this summer unique to our families, we all want to look back in September and say that we made some good memories. Here are seven ways we can do just that.
1. Elevate the simple things.
We have a cluster mailbox now and it’s a 9-minute walk from our house. Often in the evenings after supper, I’ll walk up there to check the mail. If our 19-year-old is home, she’ll walk with me. We get a little exercise and talk about random things, but it’s a nice check-in time near the end of the day.
Are there any basic things you do that could become a time to connect with one of your children? It could be a chore they help you with or an errand where they tag along. Look for simple tasks or repetitive parts of your day when you could include them in what you’re doing.
2. Schedule around the important things.
You get to decide what’s important to you.
Our girls usually leave for work at 1:30 pm five days a week. Depending on their schedule, they may not get home till 10 or 11 pm. That means my schedule this summer has me home most days between 10 am and 1:30 pm so that I can be in the house when they are. (They won’t know if I’m gone early in the morning because they’re still asleep in bed!)
That’s what’s important to me this summer. Maybe for you, it’s driving them to Vacation Bible School or weekly trips to the library or scheduled playdates at the park or the pool. Put those in your calendar first and schedule other things around them.
3. Start a new tradition.
I don’t have a plan for this yet, but I sure would work on it if our kids were younger! Whether it’s homemade milkshake nights or a campout in the backyard or hide-and-seek after dark, regular traditions give everyone something to look forward to.
4. Allow your child to step into a new freedom.
Make this a big deal so your child can look back and say, “I remember when I was old enough to…”
At our girls’ age, maybe it’s a short road trip with good friends. This could be the summer your child gets a later bedtime or tries a new skill or takes on a bigger responsibility.
5. Stop comparing your summer to someone else’s summer.
If you’re not doing this, good for you! But we’ve talked before about how sneaky comparison can be and how it makes us feel. Let’s find contentment in our own lives and plans and not worry about what everyone else is doing.
6. Stay positive when things don’t go as planned.
I read an article about Yellowstone National Park being closed for several days due to flooding. Suppose you’d been vacationing there this week and planning to tour the park? What kind of pivoting would you have to do? I’m guessing my first reaction would have been frustration!
The summer – like every season! – will bring things that are out of our control. Just last week we talked about the importance of our attitude. I can pretty much guarantee that something won’t go as planned this summer, so let’s do our best to stay positive.
7. Seize opportunities for growth.
This applies to growth in our children’s lives, but for ourselves as well!
It could be that our child gets their first summer job, anything from babysitting to cutting a neighbor’s grass. There might be a new camp to attend or, what could be really rewarding, a chance to serve others or an opportunity for spiritual growth.
Look around and see where you can grow over these few months. Just like your child, try something new. You never know what might become a permanent part of your summer or your life!
I hope that we can all embrace what makes this summer unique and create lifelong memories in the process!
- 10 Tips for a Successful Summer with Kids
- A Different Kind of Summer; or, When Kiddie Pools and Sandboxes Don’t Cut It Anymore
- 25 Ways to Make Memories with Your Children