The countdown begins at Spring Break. The last paper chain is broken and cheers can be heard from every classroom. Graduation pictures, of all kinds, flood FB news feeds and teachers are on the edge of their chairs just waiting for the final bell to signal that Summer has finally begun! There is such excitement in the air.

Summer, in its infancy, holds such wonder. When I was young, it meant late nights playing hide and seek after dark. Catching fireflies, and of course, the daily evening visit from Bob, our snow cone man. I still miss Bob!

It was trips to the water park and sleeping in a little later. It was family time and cook outs, trips to the lake and summer camps…it was relational when I was a kid. Although the excitement of the new school year and all it held began to creep into our minds in August, I never really wanted to go back to school and miss out on all the time with my friends and loved ones that summer afforded me.

Today, it seems like a different story. I read it in my news feed beginning in mid-June. “Is it time for school to start yet?!” “Oh my goodness! What am I going to do with my kids for 6 more weeks?” And the closer the school year draws, the more frequent the lamenting. Why is this?

During the school year we get up at the same time, eat, get ready for school/work, and off we go. We come home, participate in extras, eat dinner, do homework and go to bed. Then…we do it all again. Second verse, same as the first. The beauty in the school year is routine, predictability, consistency. It’s what keeps the ball rolling. Then along comes summer. The glorious time of no bedtimes, few practices and no schedule… and in a few weeks…cranky moms and dads just ready to get back to normal.

My encouragement to you is to intentionally relish the hot summer months. Be intentional to cherish the cook outs, the pool parties and the late nights…but make sure you still have summer joy to post in late July instead of the familiar “WHEN does school start?”…create a summer time routine. Make a summer routine. After all, life is still moving forward and this is a great time to give your children training in life management. I’m sure the kitchen is a revolving door, the yards need to be mowed, and laundry still gets dirty. It takes effort on our part, as parents, but I have learned a little secret.

Children, of all ages, THRIVE with routine, boundaries and most of all…consistency.

If you want a more enjoyable summer, one that doesn’t have you wondering “How much longer do we have to do this Summer thing???” then you will have to change things up a bit. My husband says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.” Now that’s GOOD…right?

And now, for my hints for a more enjoyable summer. I know you can’t wait!

  1. Get up. I know, I know…summer is supposed to be about sleeping late. Of course it is…but late is 9 or 10…not noon or later. Remember when the alarm went off at 5 am?
  2. Go to bed I know it is actually light outside until at least 9pm and WHO can go to bed when there is light out? I’m not saying keep the normal bed times, but save the 3 am bed times and the all-nighters for special times during the summer. They don’t need to be the norm.
  3. Get outside. If you’re like me and you live in Texas or somewhere else where the temperatures soar into the 100s…being outside doesn’t always sound appealing (except to my High School English teacher who absolutely thrives in the hot, hot summer!) But it is worth enduring the heat a bit. Being outside sparks creativity and wonder. It allows for the energy built up inside of us to have an outlet of escape. Yard work, pool time, s’mores and cook outs cultivate conversations and relationships. And there no substitute for a day in the sun to make for a good night’s rest!
  4. Chores. “But wait! we’re on VACATION!” Right…only you quickly realize that everyone else is on vacation and your work seems to have doubled. Am I right? During the year, if your kids have responsibilities around the house…keep ‘em coming! If they don’t, summer is a great time for Life Training 101. Start with their rooms or something small, but start. Life hasn’t taken vacation. I’m sure you still have dishes and laundry. My mom was a genius at summertime routine and chores. When we asked if we could go to the water park, play outside, run to a friends house or the mall…the answer was always “Yes…as soon as you_____(fill in the blank) is finished.” It took the sting out of house work, because we were going to get to do what we wanted, and it saved her from wanting to pull out her hair because the house was relatively picked up and in order. It was a win-win…Smart Mom!
  5. Limit the electronics…”and that’s all I have to say about that?” Forerst Gump

Don’t let summer become a drudgery. Don’t let a lack of routine leave you screaming “I can’t wait for school to start! These kids are driving me crazy! When will we get back to normal around here?”

Reclaim your summer!

Be intentional to create routine and balance. Ask the Lord to give you creative routine ideas that you can implement. He will you know! He loves us and is even concerned with our daily routines. Remember, summer is a great time for families to reconnect as school and extracurricular obligations are no longer the bulk of our calendar.

I pray that we will all look back on this Summer vacation with longing. As the school year begins again, our FB posts will read, “Where did the time go? I’m just not ready for them to all go back.”

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This post originally posted as a contributor post on I Take Joy.com

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