Dear Dr. B,
School is out, summer is here, and the kids are home during the day. How do you maintain a healthy routine but allow for flexibility and spontaneity?
What a great question! I imagine there are many families with children between 5 and 18 years of age who may wonder the same thing. We’ve had to manage that in my own home.
Summer brings with it the anticipation of longer days, catching fireflies at night, and sleeping in in the morning.
Unfortunately, the reality is that life doesn’t come to a halt on the last day of school. Parents still have to work, lawns still beg to be mowed (and maybe even more so during the warm months!), laundry still piles up, and people still expect to be fed three meals a day.
Everyone can enjoy both the reality of daily life as well as some of the flexibility and spontaneity of summer by planning ahead.
I remember one summer when I was in my late elementary school years. I longed for time to play with my friends as well as family fun time. At dinner one hot summer evening, my father asked if I would “like” to help him mow the lawn after we finished eating.
Interpreting his question somewhat literally, I answered in the negative. I didn’t “want” to help mow the lawn. In fact, I didn’t “want” him to mow the lawn either. I preferred playing croquet or being pushed on the swing set as the sun went down for the night.
This request and my unexpected response provoked a very valuable discussion for our family. What were our desires? What did we expect? What was expected or required of each of us? In sum, how could we enjoy as much of the summer as possible as a family while managing the demands that required our attention to maintain the household.
Transition well with these 4 tips:
To transition into the change in summer routine, sit down as a family and discuss expectations and desires. Explain to your children that while their summer may mean a break in their studies, work and chores remain unchanged. The summer can offer an opportunity to teach children about responsibility, generosity, and rest.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV).
Talk about what is essential and how that needs to be accomplished. Then also discuss those things that would help everyone feel as though they had an enjoyable summer.
Map out a game plan for what needs to get done when, and when there will be dedicated times for play and relaxation.
Use your schedule as a general guide, but let God guide you as well. Sometimes what isn’t needed is another room vacuumed or a manicured lawn, but a spontaneous game or romp through a sprinkler.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV).
Remember, there will always be work to do, but your children will only be young and at home for a short time for you to enjoy.
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)