I love when the school year is over! As much as I miss the formal Bible studies and routines, I love the freedom that the summer brings. I love that it stays light until almost 9:00. I love seeing and chasing lighting bugs. I love all the fresh vegetables and fruit you can get from the farmers market. I love being able to walk both morning and at night and getting to swim in the pool or the lake and ride my bicycle.
However, as wonderful as summer can be, keeping ourselves sane and our children occupied, happy and safe can be quite a juggling act. And as the heat increases and the summer rolls into July, sometimes our patience can run thin. Perhaps some of these ideas can help you get your summer organized.
Action Plan: You really do need to sit down and plan! This really is the only starting point if you and your children are going to have a fun and fulfilling summer. So, sit down with them and ask yourselves what you would like to accomplish this summer and write it down. Even a three year old can be part of the planning process and will love the feeling of being included.
Write down everything, even vacations you have planned and educational projects you may have for them. Then, allocate the ideas to the weeks ahead of you. You could choose one day a week or multiple days for all the activities. The great thing about writing it down is when your children start to whine and say they are bored, all you have to do is show them the calendar! They will realize the summer will be great!
Manna from Heaven: When we are around the same people day in and day out, sometimes our lack of patience shows in our tone of voice or the words we say. I firmly believe that we should talk nicer to our family members than our friends and neighbors but usually that’s not the case. God says in His Word that our words are important:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:29-32
Emotional Check-Up: If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may become stressed if you don’t have enough inter-action with other moms. One action plan you could incorporate is to plan the summer with other families. When we lived in Colorado, I was part of a group of moms and their children for outings in the summer. Each May, we would meet at a children’s restaurant / play area. We would decide and vote on what our favorite activities were and make a list, one activity a week on the same day. The children as well as all of us loved having a set plan each week! Some were free activities as a picnic in the park, the library, or swimming at our neighborhood pool while some were more expensive as a visit to the zoo or amusement part. If it rained on an outside activity, we would just switch to one of the planned inside activity, such as the Natural Museum of History or a movie. And to keep costs down, we would pack a picnic lunch to eat right before the event.
For those of you who work during the summer months, you might plan activities with other working parents from your neighborhood, church or office. You could even pool your resources together and hire a mature teenager to take the children to planned activities in the daytime and then you could get together and do some after work. Another option is to ask a close relative to “reserve” one day a week to be with your children.
Healthy Fit-Fact: Most people think that sunburn is the biggest health concern of the summer. Instead around 75 million cases of food-borne illness are reported every year, and more occur from June through August than during any other season, experts say. That’s because stomach-churning bacteria thrive in hot weather (especially 90 degrees and above). So, here are some tips to help combat this:
1. Make your marinade tangy. By adding vinegar or lemon juice to your marinade you could make your meat safer according to Melvin Hunt, PhD, a professor of food science at Kansas Stare University.
2. Think temperature, not color, for hamburgers. You can’t rely on color or texture to indicate doneness because many factors, like how the ground beef was packaged affected the meat’s color as it cooked. So, be sure to heat your hamburger to an internal temperature of 160 degrees by using a food thermometer.
3. Still wash prewashed greens. Leafy greens, as lettuce, spinach and cabbage, constitute the riskiest food regulated by the FDA, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And bagged salad greens are more likely to cause digestive problems than whole heads because cut leaves are more vulnerable to bacteria. So thoroughly rinse leaves in cold water, use a salad spinner to remove most of the water, and then blot dry with a clean paper towel. Refrigerate it within two hours of buying and use within a week.
I hope this summer will be an exceptional one for you and your family. May the Lord bless you richly as you enjoy all that He has created for your joy!