Think back to your childhood summers. What comes to mind? I remember the hot Alabama sun, red dirt in the front yard, and the chlorinated pool water burning my eyes. I remember sticky peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwiches, June bugs performing tricks while tied to a string, and epic bike wrecks in the gravel driveway. I enjoyed these summer days with siblings and neighbor friends long after the sun fell below the mountains and the crickets’ song grew loud in the darkness.
Summer is poised to spring from the calendar like Jack hiding in his tricky box. One more spin through the week and, POP! My kids will be underfoot all day, every day. I am always ready for the slower pace of summer days. I look forward to sleeping later and putting away the after-school homework regime. But it never fails; approximately three hours after they break free from homework, exams, and the big, yellow bus, my girls are already bored.
This week, I started trying to think of ways to make this summer awesome. My newly unemployed self knows this awesome summer has to be on the cheap. No epic vacations. No amusement park memberships. I began to fret a little about how I would entertain my three kids for eighteen hours a day over the next twelve weeks. I planned to sit down with Pinterest because that’s where all good moms go to learn how to parent. Then I thought back to those hot, sweaty summers of my own childhood. My memories are deeply etched with the simplicity of the everyday.
My mom didn’t sit us down with colored paper and pipe cleaners. We didn’t have science projects lined up each week. Mom didn’t make our food look like rocket ships or zoo animals. She sent us outside with bicycles and no boundaries. We learned by digging, reading, and living. We were supplied with plastic cups and a pitcher of red Kool-aid.
When I considered those sacred summer memories, I realized the best way to help my kids make awesome summer memories was to put away the Pinterest and let them experience summer. It is not my job to make their memories; I can only facilitate them. I don’t need to buy a mail-order craft kit. There’s no need for theme weeks with field trips and snacks to match the stories we read. Summer is going to be simple and it is going to be awesome!
How to Make Awesome Pinterest-Free Summer Memories
Ignite their imagination.
I don’t intend to tell them what to do with their free time. But I do want to provide them with opportunities and supplies for epic adventures. Spending time in the woods, splashing in the pool, and digging in the sand are a few examples of scenes ready for fantastic kid-driven scenarios. Our backyard is ripe for fun with old baskets and flower pots, long sticks, and things that dig and cut. I hope to look out my window and see my kids filling the roles of a chef, ninja, cat, or medicine woman.
Summer slump is a real thing. My eldest worked hard to conquer multiplication in third grade, only to hit fourth grade with a blank stare. I like to sneak in math games like Yahtzee and Rummikub. I love word games, too (Scrabble, anyone?). We are always active in the free summer reading program at the library. I read aloud to the kids each day last summer, and I plan to resume that again this summer. Kids are naturally curious. The slower pace of summer allows the time needed to search for answers to all of their how and why questions together.
Facilitate face time with friends.
During the school year, it can be hard to find time for the kids to have friends over. We are constantly playing catch-up on errands, housework, and school projects. I want to say “yes” to having friends over more this summer. It is free entertainment for the kids. It gives me a chance to get to know their friends better (something I am learning is very important with my middle schooler). They will have an opportunity to build deeper bonds and mulitply the fun. Everyone wins!
I want my kids to have lasting memories of serving others during their childhood. We serve with our church’s homeless ministry as our schedule allows. I want to be very intentional about this during these summer months. Additional opportunities to help will surface. For example, we can make dinner for families who need a little extra help. The girls can help me babysit for a mom who needs a break. Loving God and loving others is our family motto. This summer is an opportunity to live that out.
This will be my greatest struggle. Being an introvert and very task-oriented, I tend to focus too much on the task at hand and shoo away any distractions—including my children. I do not want my pursuit of a completed to-do list or social media silliness to distract me from the life happening right in front of me. In her book Hands Free Mama, Rachel Macy Stafford puts it in perspective:
What if, instead of rushing through the minutiae of your daily life, you occasionally paused and offered your presence? What if you turned away from the distractions that monopolize your time and attention and grasped the sacred moments passing you by?
This summer has the potential to be the best summer my kids have ever had. It’s not because I have a game plan mapped out on my calender. It won’t be found in a well-stocked craft closet. The memories won’t come from an epic family vacation. The small moments of backyard water battles, lemonade on the front porch, and stargazing from a quilt in the yard will sink deep into their heart. The sound of my voice reading to them will echo in their ears. Their mind’s eye will focus on extraordinary summer memories created in the most ordinary ways.
#FridayFive Link Up
Share your summer memory game plan or your favorite memories from summers past. Comment or use the link up button below. I’ll get my lemonade ready and enjoy remembering with you!
Next week’s #FridayFive writing prompt is a free-for-all! You decide what to write about and meet me back here next week for a visit.