Sowing Seeds of Joy: Thriving, Not Just Surviving, the Summer With Kids

Summer rolls in with its warm embrace, bringing a sense of anticipation and, sometimes, a dose of anxiety for parents. We relish the prospect of unhurried days, a sparse calendar, and the sheer delight of spending extra time with our children. Yet, the vast expanse of free time and the weight of crafting a memorable summer can be intimidating.

I’m no stranger to this seasonal dilemma, with 20 summers as a mother under my belt. However, I’ve discovered that these summer months present an opportunity for distinctive rhythms, which aren’t found during the rest of the year. By weaving thoughtful plans into our daily routine, we can do more than survive the summer – we can craft it into a season that brings our children closer to the Lord, peppered with delightful experiences.

Here are a few of my treasured rhythms developed over two decades of summertime parenting:

  1. Invest Consistently and Simply Summer, like other good things in life, benefits from steady, simple investments. Grand plans aren’t a requirement. When I asked my older children about their cherished summer memories, they recounted simple daily activities: unhurried mornings, library reading challenges, trips to the local pool, and annual visits to the aquarium. Their joy sprouted from consistency. Pick a few activities that your family enjoys and stick with them. You’ll find that these shape your children more than a slew of ever-changing ideas.
  2. Foster Steady Spiritual Growth Summer doesn’t call for an entire Bible read-through or memorization of a full catechism. How about a page from a cherished devotional at breakfast? Or reading a short excerpt from a single book of the Bible at lunch? Maybe an adventurous novel with biblical themes before bedtime? These modest practices, while not glamorous, will stay with your children for years to come.
  3. Serve as a Family A recurring highlight for our family has been a shared service activity each summer. Sometimes it was a mission trip, other years; my children crafted homemade goods to sell for a worthy cause. Our “Popsicles for Poverty” initiative, where proceeds went to Compassion International, is still a cherished memory, despite the inevitable mess. Remember, even a modest rhythm of service can echo throughout the year.
  4. Explore Nature Together Summer is an excellent time to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. Walks, creek visits, butterfly watching, or bird identification can serve as soul-nourishing experiences, creating ample opportunities to highlight the splendor of creation and the magnificence of the Creator.
  5. Choose a Prayer Focus Consider dedicating your summer prayers to a specific cause, country, or people group. The intention isn’t to have lengthy prayer sessions but to broaden your children’s (and your own) perspective on needs beyond your immediate surroundings. Having a visual reminder, like a map or photograph, can help keep this focus at the forefront.
  6. Sketch a Flexible Plan Every family has its unique dynamics, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ summer blueprint. However, having a flexible daily plan can prevent chaos and dissatisfaction. By alternating quiet and active periods throughout the day, you can strike a harmonious balance.

As you tread through these long, balmy summer days, consider how you can use this time to bring your children closer to God (Ps. 145:4). The goal isn’t to engineer an epic summer but to instill daily habits and nurturing rhythms that will leave a lasting imprint on your children. Remember, consistent actions, like the persistent drip of water carving a canyon, will bear fruit over time. Continue serving, praying, and playing. The growth is occurring, even if it’s not always apparent. The fruit of your labor will be revealed in due time (1 Thess. 2:8).