How to Cure the Mid-Summer Blues

It’s the middle of summer. My kids are getting tired of each other and tired of me. They are finding it more and more difficult to entertain themselves. This is the time of the summer when I often start looking longingly at the calendar, wondering when school starts. Everyone’s patience is thin and growing thinner by the day.

But we’ve got nearly half the summer left. And as those days stretch out before us, I know that I want to use them well. I want to enjoy the time with my daughters. I want them to enjoy the time with me. So we need to find a way to kick these mid-summer blues.

If your household is stuck in the throes of the mid-summer blues, as well, try some of these ideas to shake them loose and make the most of the time you have left.

Shake up the schedule. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. We go to the pool every Wednesday afternoon. We do chores and reading time every morning. We go to the library every Friday. Because everyone knows exactly what to expect, the excitement of the summer is gone. Regain some of that excitement by switching up the schedule. Have breakfast for dinner. Skip doing chores for the day. Let the kids stay up late and chase fireflies.

Do something silly. Get everyone laughing. Declare a wig day where everyone wears funny wigs. Have a dance-off in the kitchen. Eat ice cream for lunch. Enjoy the time you have with your kids. Laughter is a great way to shake off the mid-summer boredom and remind everyone of why they love spending time together. Proverbs 17:22 says “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Create joyful hearts in your home with some silliness.

Plan something special. Have a party for no reason. Go on a day trip to see something you’ve never seen before. Have a cookout with some friends. For a quick, fun idea, check out this Teddy Bear Picnic from Kristen at Celebrate Every Day With Me. With a little planning and not much money, you can plan something special that will have your kids counting the days until the event. Having something to look forward to always makes the time go faster and gives kids something to anticipate.

Have a theme day. Make a favorite book or movie come alive or choose a favorite account from the Bible and make it your theme for the day. Fix food that comes from that time period. Dress like people would have dressed in the book, movie or Bible account. Act out your favorite scenes. Read the book or watch the movie together. Make up games to go along with your theme.

Have an opposite day. Wear your clothes backwards. Start the day with dinner and end with breakfast. Make yes mean no and no mean yes for the day. Lots of laughter and hilarity will ensue when people get confused. Make the kids walk backwards in the house.

Just because it’s the middle of the summer, it doesn’t mean you have to get stuck in the mid-summer blues. Shake things up at your house and get back to enjoying your time with your kids.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.

Making the Most of History

Courtesy Simon Howden

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. History surrounded us. The American Revolution started on the greens of Concord and Lexington, just a few miles from my house. Sam Adams, John Hancock and John Adams walked the streets of Boston. Paul Revere’s house is still there. The events surrounding the founding of our country came alive because we could see and touch it.

Here in Kansas, there’s a different kind of history. Settlers going west in covered wagons in search of a better life, stepped off on their trip in nearby Independence, Missouri. Bloody battles were fought between slave state Missouri and free state Kansas. Just down the road is the only original stagecoach stop still in existence.

Understanding historical events is not just an important part of our kids’ education. It’s an opportunity to help them separate fact from fiction. When we take our kids to visit historical sites and learn about the men and women who came before us, we teach our kids to appreciate the past. We teach them to appreciate the comforts they now have. And we can use it to teach them that faith is enduring and the events of the Bible are as real as the American Revolution or the Westward Migration.

When you visit a historical site with your kids, do so with an eye toward teaching them not just history but how to distinguish reality from fiction.

Do your homework. Before going to visit a historical site near you, find out what you can about it beforehand. Be prepared to answer questions. See if you can find an account of a person of faith who lived nearby or did something amazing either at the site or during the historical time period.

Prepare your kids. Before you go, read about the place you’re going to visit with your kids or read a fiction book set in the time period of the historical site. Talk about the difference between historical fact and historical fiction. Ask them what they think the Bible is. Talk about how the Bible is not just a story like a fiction book but is a factual account of things that actually happened.

Ask your kids questions. As you view the historical site, ask your kids questions about the event that happened there. Ask them how we know that those things happened. Talk about the evidence that lets us know what happened. It may be letters from someone who was there or other first-person accounts. It may be that archaeologists found the evidence. Talk with your kids about how the same evidence exists for the events in the Bible.

Have an ABC scavenger hunt. Give each child one of the ABC scavenger hunt printables. Ask them to write down facts about the historical site that start with each letter. You’ll have your kids hunting for signs to read and learning without even trying. On your way home, have everyone share their facts. Ask your kids why we should care about those facts. Talk about how understanding what happened in the past can encourage us through hardships now and help us to understand how to avoid mistakes in the future. Talk about how the events of the Bible help us to do the same thing.

Visiting an historical site with your kids can be a fun learning experience and part of The Best Summer Ever. We want to remember the past so that we can learn from it. Over and over again in the Bible, God tells us to not forget what happened before. Psalm 77:11 says “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” We can use a fun trip to a historical site to help our kids understand the importance of remembering what God did in the past.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows and Denise in Bloom.

The Best Summer Ever: A Trip to the Pool

Courtesy tungphoto

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to spend lazy afternoons at the pool. It’s cool and refreshing in the middle of a hot and humid Kansas summer. Because we have pool passes, it’s also cheap. The perfect combination.

We go to the pool so often that the trip often becomes ordinary. It’s not an adventure. It’s not a learning experience. It’s often just a way to kill time and cool off.

But it doesn’t have to be. Trips to the pool can be a great opportunity to focus our kids’ attention on Jesus. Throughout the Bible, water plays a role in several miracles. God parted the Red Sea. Jesus turned water into wine. Jesus even compared himself to water drawn from a well.

We can turn a simple trip to the pool into an extraordinary opportunity for our kids to learn about God:

Get in the pool with your kids and ask them to make a path through the water. Explain that you want them to pile up the water on either side of you so that you are standing on dry ground. No matter how hard your kids try, the water will just fill back in. Talk about how amazing it must have been for the Israelites to see, not a pool full of water, but the entire Red Sea pushed back on either side. Talk with your kids about how God has power over His creation. He can do anything.

When you get to the pool, tell your kids you want them to walk across the top of the water, without getting anything wet but the bottoms of their feet. After they sink a few times, talk about how Jesus walked on the water. Talk about how Peter jumped out of the boat and walked on the water, too. Explain that He only sank when He became more worried about the wind and the waves than He was about keeping His eyes on Jesus. Explain that when God asks us to do difficult things as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can do it. When we take our eyes off Jesus is when things get difficult.

On the way home, ask your kids if they swallowed any pool water. Talk about the fact that drinking pool water isn’t good for you because of the chemicals. Explain that our bodies need clean drinking water to survive. We can go without food longer than we can go without water. Talk about how Jesus compared himself to drinking water. He said that He is “living water” that offers eternal life. When we follow Jesus, it’s like drinking good water. It fills us up and lets us do the things God wants us to do.

There are many more accounts that include water in the Bible. Jesus turned water into wine. Abraham’s servant met Rachel at the well. The Israelites crossed the Jordan River. God used water to flood the world. You can find a printable list of many of these accounts along with their references here. You can use a trip to the pool to focus on each of these.

Turn your summertime trips to the pool into extraordinary opportunities to teach your kids about God. It will make your pool trips a time of refreshment for both your bodies and your souls.

 

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows and Denise in Bloom.

The Best Summer Ever: A Trip to the Zoo

Courtesy africa

My younger daughter and I are off to the zoo today. Even though I often feel as though I already live in a zoo, I love to go to the zoo.

A trip to the zoo is always a fun summertime activity, but we can take that trip to the zoo and turn it into an amazing lesson about God’s creation. Each animal can become an example of the variety and creativity inherent in God’s creation.

 So, take a little time to get ready for your next zoo trip and make it a day of fun and laughter that includes opportunities to thank God for His creation.

  • Look up some facts about your kids’ favorite animals. Use these facts to point out the differences between the animals and the diversity of God’s creation. For example, somewhere in my life I learned that elephants actually walk on their tiptoes. When we go to the zoo, I remind my children of this fact, and we always spend a moment in awe of how God made such a huge creature, and yet it balances itself on the toe bones of its foot.
  • Create a scavenger hunt for your kids or use the free printable here. Give them different challenges as you go through the zoo. Have them find three animals with wings or three animals with long noses. Have them look for the animal with the longest neck or the smallest animal at the zoo. Use the scavenger hunt to direct your kids’ attention to how each animal is different and God made them that way so they could best feed themselves or protect themselves. Talk about how God made different animals to eat different things, so that there would be enough food for everyone.
  • The zoo is a great time to talk about the story of Noah’s ark. Ask your kids what they think life on Noah’s ark was like. Remind them that the story of Noah reminds us that God always keeps His promises. You can also remind them that Noah and his family were saved from the flood because they obeyed God even when it seemed like it was a crazy thing to do. Imagine how many of Noah’s neighbors and friends thought he was crazy.
  • Use these verses to talk to your kids while you’re at the zoo.
    • Genesis 1:21 — So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
    • Psalm 104:24-25 — How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.
  • Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the day with plenty of laughter and joy.

 

Day 14: Don’t Forget to Rest (and a giveaway)

Today is the last day of The Best Summer Ever Series. Hopefully, you have a binder full of great ideas for your summer. You’ve planned places to go, things to teach, character qualities to emphasize and projects to do. All of those things are important, but don’t forget something that’s equally important this summer — rest.

Our kids have been busy all year — whether you have toddlers or teenagers. Their minds and their bodies need time to rest. Rest is biblical. Even God rested: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2).

Our children need time to simply be kids. They need time to play outside with nothing more than a stick and their imaginations. They need time to sleep in. They need time to just hang out with their friends.

Summer is a time for cold glasses of lemonade, camping out in the backyard, sleeping past the sunrise and staying up late. It’s a time for going to the pool and making forts under the tree in the backyard. It’s a time for long walks and long talks.

Don’t fill your summer so full of activities that you forget to give your kids some time to rest. Leave room in your schedule for unscheduled fun — pick-up basketball games on the driveway, read-alouds before bedtime, s’mores over the fire pit. These are the moments your kids will remember.

They’ll remember the day you got up and took them for donuts. They’ll remember the lazy afternoons at the pool where you got in and played with them. They’ll remember lemonade stands and homemade ice cream. They’ll remember water balloon fights and evening bike rides.

Make time to rest. Leave unstructured time in your summer days. It will help make this The Best Summer Ever.

Don’t miss our giveaway to wrap up The Best Summer Ever Series. We’re giving away a $15 gift card to Cold Stone Creamery so our lucky winner can make a memory with her family this summer. Enter to win below. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday.

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Linking up today with Beholding Glory and Your Thriving Family.

Day 4: Make a Schedule and a Budget

Summer should be a time of lazy days and laughter, water fights and bike rides, movie nights and vacations. Summer is a time to make memories and share experiences. It’s a time to learn new things and revel in the wonder of an amazing God.

But, too often, we start the season off with big plans, then get to the end of the summer and wonder where those big plans went. We had such good intentions, but daily life got in the way. We never had that cookout with the neighbors. We didn’t take that trip to the amusement park. We missed out on having a summer adventure.

The one sure way I’ve found to avoid missing out on the good stuff of summer is to schedule the big stuff. I’ve learned that if it’s not on the calendar at the beginning of the season, it’s probably not going to happen. So, today’s the day to use your prayer worksheet, your summer goals list and your summer wish list and put some of those things on your Summer Calendar, which you can print off here.

Take the lists you’ve made this week and decide which things you want to do. Then, put them on your calendar. The best things to do are the ones that your kids are excited about and that meet some of your summer goals. Go ahead and give those things a date. Be purposeful in planning your summer. Spread the big stuff out over the months, leaving plenty of open dates for spontaneous activities and lazy days at the pool. I usually try to give us one really big thing (a trip or a more expensive outing) about once a month. Then, once a week, I’ll schedule a smaller outing that doesn’t cost as much.

Speaking of cost, that brings us to another important and less fun topic: the budget. Don’t plan your summer without one. The Best Summer Ever should not be followed by The Most Broke Fall Ever. Make a summer budget and stick to it. You can use the simple Summer Budget worksheet to get started. Do your best to create a realistic budget. You can budget the whole summer or do it monthly, whichever works best for you. If something is too expensive for this year, tuck it away and work toward doing it next year. Don’t go into debt or end up stressed about money just to do something with your kids. Most kids will be perfectly happy with a cheaper option if the big one doesn’t fit your budget.

Remember, your summer is about making memories. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses. My advice is to not do anything that’s going to send you into debt, and it’s God’s advice, too. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Don’t let summer make you a slave to anyone. If a big cross-country trip isn’t in the budget, take a smaller one, closer to home. If multiple trips to the movies are out of the question, go to one matinee of the most-anticipated movie for your family, then have family movie night with a $1 Red Box movie at home.

A schedule and a budget will make your summer less stressful and a whole lot more fun. You won’t be struggling to find activities for your kids or wondering where the money is going to come from. So, start scheduling and budgeting today to make this The Best Summer Ever.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to The Best Summer Ever. Don’t miss next week where we start getting into the details of some fun activities, dealing with chores and teaching our kids about God through our summer activities. If you want to be sure not to miss a post, get Everyday Truth in your inbox each day by signing up under the Subscribe by email header on the right.

Linking up today with Beholding Glory.

Day 3: Get the Kids Involved

Have you ever planned something you thought your kids would love and had it turn out to be a dismal failure? For whatever reason, your kids didn’t think it was nearly as much fun as you thought they would?

I remember planning an elaborate birthday party for my older daughter when she turned 6. I love to throw parties with lots of people, so we invited lots of her friends. I spent the evening watching her stand apart from most of her friends. That was when I realized that we had planned a party I would enjoy, not one that she would enjoy. My older daughter is much happier with just a few friends around. I realized I had never asked her how many kids she wanted to have. I had just told her the number, and she felt obligated to fill it. Now, we plan parties with much fewer kids, and my daughter is much happier.

The point of telling that story is that you can plan an entire summer of fun activities, and your kids might hate it. The way to avoid that? Ask your kids what they want to do. Proverbs 15:22 says “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” They are, after all, the experts on what they want to do this summer. You’re planning these summer activities for your kids, so let your kids be the advisers in this situation. 

There are a couple of reasons that letting your kids help plan the summer is a good idea. First, it lets you know where their interests lie. Sometimes, we think we know what’s going on inside our kids’ heads only to find out they’re thinking exactly the opposite. Second, kids have great ideas. They may think of something that you would never come up with. Third, it gives them a measure of control and lets them get excited about the stuff you’re planning.

So how do we involve the kids? How much control do we give them? It depends on the age of your kids. With preschoolers, simply asking a few simple questions like “What would you like to do this summer?” or giving them a few options like “Would you rather go to the pool, the zoo or the park?”

With older kids, set aside a planning time. Use today’s printable Summer Wish List to get the conversation started. You can give each child a copy or write down everyone’s thoughts on one copy. The first question “Things we’d like to do if money was no object” is designed to find out what your kids dream about doing. Throwing money out of the equation lets your kids tell you what they’d love to do with their summer. You might not be able to afford it, but it might be something to work toward in the future. You can also use that question to plan smaller scale activities that still address those interests. For example, say your child wants to go to NASA mission control in Houston. You might not be able to afford a trip to Houston, but a local museum might have some space artifacts or you can have a “space day” at home where you do space-themed activities.

The other questions on the Summer Wish List will help you gauge your kids’ interest in trips to attractions close to your home, new things they’d like to learn and free stuff they’d like to do. Summer activities don’t have to be expensive to meet your child’s wishes and interests. For example, I asked my older daughter what she wanted to do this summer, and her response was, “Have lots of cookouts with the neighbors.” Inexpensive and fun.

Get your kids excited about summer by letting them get in on the planning of The Best Summer Ever.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s post where we get started putting things on our calendars. And don’t forget to tell your friends about The Best Summer Ever series. You can use the button in the sidebar or click the Facebook or Twitter share buttons at the top of this post. Hop on over to the Everyday Truth Facebook page and share your goals for the summer or leave a comment here telling us about the goals you came up with from yesterday’s post.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows and Our Simple Country Life.

Day 2: Setting Summer Goals

One of the first things my girls learned when they started playing soccer and hockey was to keep their heads up. You see, a person’s natural tendency is to look at their feet when they are learning to dribble a ball or stickhandle a puck, but when you put your head down, you can’t see where you are going. And when you can’t see where you’re going, you can run into something you didn’t intend to run into — like another person or the boards. The kids get so focused on what they are doing, that they end up off course from the goal.

We want to be careful not to lose sight of our goals for our summers, and to do that, we have to set goals. You spent yesterday praying about what God wanted you to do with your kids. You asked Him to direct the way you spend your time this summer. Today, it’s time to set some goals.

While we need to let God direct our path, we need to define for ourselves what God wants to accomplish in our kids’ lives this summer. The danger of planning our summers without setting some goals, is a lot like the danger of playing soccer or hockey with our heads down. We might have a lot of fun, but we will probably end up in a different place than we wanted to be.

While God wants us to give our plans to Him and let Him set them, it doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility of mapping out a plan to reach the goals He’s given us. Proverbs 21:5 says “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Setting some goals based on what God has revealed to us and making some plans will allow us to have a profitable summer with our kids.

So, how do we go about setting goals for the summer? Guess what? There’s a great printable worksheet just waiting for you to fill it out and put it in your binder. There are five areas on your worksheet — physical, spiritual, relational, educational and fun. And, yes, you need goals in all five. Let’s take a closer look at what each section is about.

Physical

Physical goals are just that. What do you want to accomplish with your kids as far as their bodies are concerned? This can be anything from improving soccer skills to exercising as a family to talking with your kids about puberty or personal hygiene.

Spiritual

Spiritual goals are what you want your kids to learn about God this summer. Our summers are usually spent working on a character quality or two, but yours can be learning about the character of God or simply focusing on the fact that God loves us. Use what God revealed to you in your prayer time to fill this out.

Relational

Relational goals are what you want your kids to learn about dealing with relationships. This can be anything from being kind to others to learning to resolve conflict.

Educational

Educational goals are just that, educational. You may want to work with your kids over the summer to refresh some skills they learned in school this year. Your child might need an extra boost in a certain subject. Or you might want to nurture an interest that isn’t given much time in school.

Fun

Last, set some fun goals. If you want to go on a trip or learn something new with your kids this summer, this is the place to list that.

After you’ve listed all your goals for the summer, take a minute to pray over them. Ask God to show you if you’ve added too many things or if you’ve missed something important. As we start adding activities to our summer plan, these goals will become important because we’ll want to choose activities that help us reach these goals.

Keeping our heads up and our eyes on the goal will help us have The Best Summer Ever.

Click here to get today’s printable. If you missed the beginning of The Best Summer Ever series, check it out here. Do you blog and want to share The Best Summer Ever series with your readers? Check out the button in the sidebar. And don’t forget to head over to the Facebook page to share your goals with and encourage other readers.