All school year long, we live and breathe routine. Early rising, lunch packing, carpooling, volunteering, soccer cheering, dinner making, homework helping, tub splashing, then tucking kiddos into bed—so we can start all over again the very next morning.
Routine is good. Structure is healthy.
But so is breaking free.
I adore summer vacation with my kids. We have freedom to play, explore new activities, and build sweet memories under the sun and moon. In order to make the most of it, my family creates a summer bucket list.
Every spring, my husband and I ask our kids what they want to do before summer ends, and together we write a list of activities. These run the gamut from “pick strawberries” and “see fireworks” to “take a karate class” and “visit every playground in town.” Listing our summer goals helps our family stay intentional about quality time and enrichment, and it gives the kids a sense of accomplishment come August when they see how they invested their summer—and how Mom and Dad supported their interests.
However, while the kids are likely to suggest plenty of fun activities (many of them involving either popsicles or swimming), as parents we have a tremendous opportunity during the summer months to infuse our children with kingdom values. Here are three activities I encourage you to add to your summer bucket list.
Bible study—Summer is the perfect time to focus on the Bible lessons that can easily get brushed aside during school year busyness. Try reading Bible stories at breakfast in your pajamas, host a small group mom/child Bible study, or challenge your kids to memorize and recite verses for a prize, like a treat from the ice cream truck. Bonus if they recite the verse to the truck driver. I’d pay a dozen drumsticks to see that. Whatever you do to bring the Bible to life this summer, make it fun, and the kids just might beg for it again next year.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, NIV).
Service project—Now put the Bible into action by serving others. The goal is to teach our kids generosity, humility and selflessness as well as the value of hard work. This could be as simple as offering to sweep a neighbor’s driveway or handing out bottles of water at the park. Get creative. Two summers ago, my daughter wanted to earn money to buy a special doll. So she made and sold bookmarks for $2 each and donated half the proceeds to a missionary family from our church. In the end she was more excited about gifting her earnings than she was about the doll.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13, NIV).
White space—For some families, summer is about as leisurely as the Daytona 500. With so many activities to coordinate and chase, it’s no surprise some parents can’t wait until school starts again in the fall. If you’re wondering how in the world you’re going to fit in Bible study and service projects, then I gently challenge you to buck your calendar. If we’re too busy for God, we’re too busy. I’m as guilty of this as anybody else. Which is why each summer, I attempt to scale back and achieve a happy balance between keeping the kids occupied and go-nowhere white space. This allows our family to be available for whatever God has in store—whether or not it’s on the bucket list.
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).