With summer upon us, many parents are processing how their kids can best use their time. It’s a difficult balance to strike. Too often, a typical school year consists of mom rushing her kids through a drive-through, grabbing some chicken nuggets and hustling over to a practice or rehearsal. Multiple times a week. What’s missing?
- Genuine, meaningful conversations.
- Rest from all the noise and clutter.
- Time for reflection and planning.
So many families never stop to connect with each other or find the time for personal growth. It seems activity instead of growth is the goal. Just stay busy. Avoid boredom. But is this really what we want?
Is this the story we want to tell our grandkids later?
Making Good Summer Decisions: Practice SWAP
Instead of simply letting summer “happen,” why not practice Summer With A Purpose? This means, you approach the few months of summer with a plan for both growth and relaxation. Learning and laughter. In these months, you can make up for the activities or refreshment they don’t get during a busy school year.
I’d like to toss out some ideas for you to consider if you’ve got kids between the ages of 12 and 21 at your house. (These ages are our sweet spot at Growing Leaders). None of these ideas require a rocket scientist to figure them out and implement them. They will, however, require an intentional leader to set them up.
1. Determine the quality time you want to have with family.
Early on, it’s wise to choose how much time you’d like to enjoy together and lay out those boundaries first. How many meals each week will you have as a family? How much activity will your kids need to keep them active but not hyper-active? What do your kids need most during June and July that they may not get at school?
2. Help them choose a theme or path.
What will the summer include? Will there be key activities it will revolve around? Will your kids get the sleep they need? How about the margins they need? Instead of allowing the summer months to be haphazard, why not plan the path? When you choose a summer theme, it’s easier to coordinate goals and vacations around it.
3. Implement a reading plan.
When my kids were growing up, I challenged them to read certain books and paid them for reading them and providing a report. (I didn’t let them fake their reading). My kids didn’t become avid readers, but they did especially enjoy the biographies of life-giving leaders they read. If we pay them for chores…why not pay them to grow?
4. Vacation with a purpose.
Once you know your theme, why not choose a vacation that fits? Every other year, our family chooses a purposeful place to visit where we will both enjoy our moments together and grow as well. This year, we visited Washington D.C. and discussed the incredible leaders who make up American history. Two years ago, we visited London and Paris and learned lots about our European heritage. Everyone helped to plan it.
5. Choose a service project.
Depending on the temperaments of your kids, you can choose a service project or mission trip to do together, or each member can do it individually. We’ve served in local soup kitchens and even gone on trips to serve the underprivileged in different parts of the world. Since service was one of our family core values, it was something we expected to do.
6. Prepare for the next school year.
As you near August, what if you asked your kids to plan some goals for the next school year and then go out to a fun restaurant and discuss them? As you lead them, make sure they don’t overdo the sporting events, practices, etc. Help them find balance in their week and find time for sleep and unsupervised activity. Three practices a week or multiple sports often intrudes on a balanced family life.
Bottom line? What if you made a SWAP and gave your summer meaning?