Summer? What Summer?

Even though the sun has not yet presented its summertime face to us here in the Great White North, we have been bravely acting as though we hadn’t really noticed, pretending that June is supposed to behave like March. But I have to say we have now been beat. It is snowing as I write this! No fooling. White stuff dumping out of the sky right on to my tomato plants and geraniums! If we could buy spring for any price, everyone in this town would gladly chip in. But in spite of the oobleck falling on my front porch, it is gorgeously green out here, even if it’s still a tad chilly. (See the picture at the end of this post to prove it!)

But, that is not my subject at hand. I was thinking of writing something about what to do with the kiddos now that school is out for the summer months (notice I didn’t actually call it summer….just those months we refer to as the summer months).

I remember the comments I used to get even at the grocery store check out. “Oh aren’t you just dreading summer with the kids home from school?” What a terrible outlook. I was, in fact, looking forward to the lazy summer days.

Some moms (sorry, but I know this is true) make their own children dread summer vacation by piling on the duties, rules, and schedules. What a drag. How much better to make summer a real pleasure rather than drudgery. Still, there have to be some guidelines and goals, right? Well here are a few suggestions in case you were needing some.

Let the first week be sleep-in week while the kids (and you) adjust to no school. Take it easy. Make them a festive breakfast. Or better yet, let them do the cooking. Celebrate the completion of another year of school. Let them stay in their pajamas all morning if they want to. Okay, okay, I see you bristling. Letting the kids slum around will get on your nerves. I agree. But just for the first few days of summer, it wouldn’t hurt would it?

Certainly, once you are past that first week, you have to have a plan. Summer is not the time to lurch into laziness and boredom. So find them age-appropriate activities that will stimulate, refresh, and stretch them. Fruitfulness always keeps the spirits up. I suggest you work with these basic categories: household duties, money-making activities, creative opportunities, plain old fun stuff, and service.

First off, the household duties. Every kid needs some chores. It builds character, yes, but it also makes the kids feel trusted when they are given responsibility. Find things they will look on as “get to do” rather than “must do.” If you are wise about the timing, this is pretty simple. If you are slamming teenagers with a bunch of chores when they have never even been required to make their beds, it’s not going to go over well. It may be too late to start. But if you are bestowing little chores on little kids who rise up to the occasion with delight, you’ve nailed it, and you can continue to add more as they mature.

Finding some jobs that will pay is a great way to fill up the summer and give your kids the bonus of having some money to manage. But you don’t want the work to be a burden to them. If your daughter really doesn’t want to babysit for that family with the badly behaved kids, don’t make her do it. Protect her from the kinds of jobs that she won’t enjoy. If your son is a lazy bum, you may need to insist on him taking on some lawn mowing jobs, but, hopefully, he has the incentive to make some money. Manage this wisely and work with the grain. What are your kids desires and talents? Encourage them in those and look for opportunities that will pay.

What do I mean by creative opportunities? Sewing or cooking classes, tennis or horse-back riding lessons, swimming or sculpting. Whatever it is, expose your kids to as many things as you can. Get them on the softball or baseball teams if they want to. Maybe you need to volunteer to coach. Help them past their reluctance so they can find confidence in being on a team. It’s a great opportunity to grow and have fun. Other creative opportunities would be working with Dad in the shop or on the car, painting some furniture or hanging wall paper.

Make sure they have some fun reading for the summer that is a real break from the school work. Maybe it’s a stack of P.G. Wodehouse from the library, or maybe it’s King Solomon’s Mines or (better yet) 100 Cupboards. Get them going on some fun reads.

Finally, give your kids opportunity to serve others without pay. Maybe your girls can make some cookies or a meal for a family with a new baby. Or you can visit a widow while your sons mow her lawn. Not all babysitting should have a price tag; there are young families who can’t afford a babysitter but who could really use a night out. Or a busy mother of little ones could use some help around the house. But lead your kids in this, don’t send them in your stead. Don’t expect things of them you wouldn’t do. Hospitality is a way of serving, so include your kids in this. Invite people they will enjoy, and teach them how to be good hosts.

Well the snow is sticking here. I kid you not. I suggest we crank on the Christmas music and make some ornaments. No sense being scrooges about it. I did just bring in my little pots of rosemary and basil. I don’t think they care for the snow. Here is the promised picture taken mere minutes ago! And Merry Summer and Happy June to you all!

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11 thoughts on “Summer? What Summer?

  1. Thanks for the wonderful summer tips – here in NC, it is 100 degrees, so these will come in handy for us since we won’t be making Christmas ornaments and eggnog 8-)!

  2. Unbelievable! My husband and I are from NH (though currently in VA) and I can’t say I remember any snow in June, April yes, but not JUNE! Thanks for your cheerful example. Blessings to you all in snowy Idaho.

  3. Oh my!! We had a cold wind storm here in Seattle last night. Branches and leaves are everywhere. But I can’t believe you have snow. I just email someone in Moscow and asked how the sun was….. oops.

  4. Great thoughts on summer activities.

    One thing I have found helpful is to make a checklist for each week. Somehow, chores (especially the ones that aren’t relished–not all jobs can be fun!) are easier to swallow when the kids see them on the list and know what’s coming up for the week, than if you suddenly announce “Hey, the front beds need to be weeded.”

    Creating lists is also a good way to make sure you’re hitting all the categories–chores, money-making, fun, and service. The kids could be involved in helping plan which activities they need to do and get to do for the upcoming week.

    Enjoy your interesting variety of summer weather.

  5. It’s 115 degrees here in Phoenix! We sure have the extremes, don’t we?

    Thank you for the encouraging ideas. While our family studies January through September (who wants to play outside in AZ in the summer?) your timeless thoughts are just as applicable.

    Thank you for your humor and good attitude in crazy weather situations. I’m trying to work on this myself and your example is encouraging!

  6. These are such great tips. I want to share with my friends!! However, I’m not sure about proper blog protocol. Is it ok for me to forward this blog to my friends that would benefit, or is this for CREC women, generally, or for just your friends and family? I hope not, because I have not formally met you yet. I post comments so that I am not a lurker, but sometimes I’m not sure what the boundaries are. I mean, is a blog like a website, public domain? But, isn’t a blog also like a journal of sorts?

  7. Thanks for that question Mrs. Young!
    I wonder the same things, but was not straightforward enough to go ahead and ask.
    Mrs. Wilson, you don’t know me at all, and there are probably many more mystery women out here checking your blog, so interested in knowing your thoughts.

    I think I have read every published word you have written, and almost everything your husband has written. And I listen to Doug Wilson (and others) preach over the computer at night while I do my husband’s medical billing. (Sometimes that’s five sermons a week.)

    Reading your blog sometimes seems almost like voyeurism, but I am so grateful that your wisdom is available to me.
    Thanks so much!

  8. Mrs. Young and Missy,

    Thanks for your questions. Femina really isn’t a journal (from my perspective) but more of a bulletin board. I write it knowing that it is out on the worldwide web, and anyone (friend or foe) can read it. You are free to pass it on to others or print out posts on it.
    I think the only thing in this regard (that I can think of) that would be obviously unethical would be printing a bunch of the posts and selling them. Hardly something you are going to do!
    But anytime you think something on the blog would be helpful to someone else, feel free to use it with my blessing.

  9. Nancy,

    I would like to ask a question about the “summer” issue. There will come a day when our sons and daughters will have entered into adulthood. As a matter of fact if we want to do things right they will be “plants grown up in their youth.” You have taught before that we want to see maturity, we want to see our children be responsible (age-appropriate of course), we want a robust Christian work ethic and so on and so forth.

    So in light of how the bible instructs us to raise our children, in ways you and Pastor Wilson have so wonderfully discussed in many of your family books: How should we then treat summer? Summer is a season just like other seasons in life and it should be joyful and productive like all other seasons.

    As a wife, I don’t get a “summer time” where I get to sleep in, indulge in arts, crafts, sports (all good things mind you), I don’t get time off from making dinner, laundry, caring for my family and others, being a keeper of my home, being a wife, being a mother and a whole host of things that God gives to us in different seasons of life. So in light of that, I think I would like to train my children up towards that kind of year-round life. I’m really trying to say this in the most graceful way I know how. I suppose my question is where do you see the line (and it may be a fine one) of work and play. I am NOT talking about over-burdening the children with chores, putting on a serious attitude with lack of joy, harshness etc. etc.

    Maybe I’m asking a deeper question. How should we think of the many seasons of life and the four seasons of the year? How should we live robustly as Christians building Jesus’ Kingdom in those seasons? The modern “summer time” notion is a product of the government school year. So if we don’t live our life according to their dictates, then what? (I do realize that the modern school year took its seasons from a time when we were a rural nation running our time around the agricultural seasons).

    I guess I’m bringing this up because I’m trying to find a nice balance for my children between age appropriate work, service, personal growth, spiritual growth, hobbies and interests and play. I LOVE seeing the kids grow and have fun. I am NOT an “all work no play” kind of gal.

    I don’t know how clear I was, I sure hope you understand what I’m trying to get at. :-)

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