Eighteen summers. I once heard that the length of time you have with your children before they leave the nest described as eighteen summers. I still gasp when I think about it in those terms. It doesn’t seem nearly long enough—like we are somehow being robbed of precious time with our kiddos. In all actuality, we really do get only eighteen summers before they are off living their own lives.
For my kids, summer equals freedom. After a school year full of indoor routines, they dive headfirst into the fresh waters of an open schedule. So just before our summer vacation starts, I like to take some time to write a list of things we hope to do that summer—things we hope to do at least once a week, other things we want to do at least one time before that summer ends, and even a few things we want to experience at least once before their eighteen summers at home are over. I find that it helps me be more purposeful with the time I have with them. Sure, we have lazy days where we stay in our pj’s well into the afternoon and days where “I’m bored” is said one too many times for this mama’s liking. But we also have adventure days—days filled with fun in the sun, toes in the sand, and joy from a fun activity done together.
I’ve found that when I’m purposeful in writing down our summer goals, I don’t mind so much the days we don’t have anything planned. I could remind the kids of something fun we just did or an outing we’re looking forward to in the next coming days. We gained a new perspective as we learned to appreciate the down time during a lazy summer day and anticipate the next fun activity.
Although I’m not the best planner, I found that by picking one day a week and choosing just one fun thing to do were enough to feel like I was winning as a mom during the summer break. We could go to the beach or the park and then out for ice cream. We could schedule a playdate with friends or go to the movies on a rainy day. We could learn a new craft we’d never tried before. We could go strawberry picking, bike riding, or enjoy a picnic by the lake. Or we could play board games all day long—a board game marathon day! Whatever we chose, we looked forward to it. We unplugged for the day and chose to be intentional with our time together.
Limiting special activities to just one day a week was a whole lot more manageable than trying to plan something fun every day. You may only get eighteen summers with your kids, but when you choose to be intentional with your time, those eighteen summers are full of joy and memories to last a lifetime.
Brainstorm some fun activities—especially those that don’t cost a thing to do—today while drinking your morning coffee or enjoying a quiet moment before the kids get home from school. Jotting down ideas takes only a few minutes, but the payoff is lifelong!