Four years ago when my kids were quite small, I begin the intentional summer experiment. During that summer and every summer following, I have worked with the kids on specific goals each have wanted to develop during the summer when they have more free time. One of the things I specifically wanted to do was disciple them more, resulting in consistent scheduled one on one time together.
Let’s be clear: I never accomplished everything I set out to do. Yet, I continued to think about the phrase “without a plan people perish” and I knew that doing some of what I had planned would be better than none at all.
Normally when preparing to speak each May about the intentional summer project, I work on summer plans for my own kids. The downfall of not speaking due to COVID-19 was having to plan organically. Although as my kids get older, the process of planning is less difficult since they know they will need a plan for summer and they also know that as the summer goes on my consistency does not.
This year is different for my kids because I’m not going to be discipling my junior high school worship leading daughter. She is now discipling herself and wants to do as much as she can independently, like most teens. We have negotiated an agreement that we will ask each other questions and share more about our spiritual journey with each other.
I am using the not consumed material with my son to teach him how to have a quiet time. He has been listening to the verse of the day on Alexa or reading a short devotional from the book list below, but that is as far as he’s gotten. I tried to use this journal last year but it didn’t get us very far even though (I still think it’s really cool!).
Along with spiritual development, my son is going to virtually work on coding camps. By learning this program, he can help me design fun videos for kids because that’s what he loves to consume.
Sadly, my daughter’s additional activities are being driven academically by her need to finish an independent study course and complete Spanish. We decided the course was too much during school online so we pushed it back while her Spanish course is necessary this summer due to a packed schedule in the fall. Her involvement in extracurriculars at school are giving her independent work if she is to attain all her credits.
Both kids will still be encouraged to move for 30 minutes a day but that has become quite easy for them. We bought them their birthday presents early: skateboards. They are learning all kinds of tricks, turning most evenings into a fun performance for the rest of us. Skateboarding is a little hard on this previous school Crisis and Drug Counselors who was always scared that her kids would like it because the skate parks back when I had that position were the centers of a lot of drug deals. So far, they are only skateboarding from home, and we may keep it that way for a long, long time both for their safety and my peace of mind.
I know some of you moms from your households and you can accomplish a lot, but I want to remember as we look at the intentional summer projects, they are going to look very different for different families- no comparison allowed! Some mamas have a few kids and some, like me, are working from home, delivering counseling services through telehealth and have very little time to monitor their kids.
My solution as a work at home mom is Emma. We are hiring Emma to come in several days a week and support me in projects like editing this blog which I remembered needed to be out this morning about an hour ago.
Emma’s got a task list like no other from me but she is also responsible to check in on the kids occasionally because I’m not always available to do so. She will make sure they’re both up by 11. We are taking low standards this summer and kids who are growing need extra sleep. She will also remind them to stay productive, asking them about their plans for the day and the tasks they are going to complete. This is a win-win for both of us since she’s going to learn how to become a great life coach. I’ve been a Christian life coach for almost 2 decades and as life coaches we ask questions and people direct themselves:
Again, I want to encourage you to set S.M.A.R.T. GOALS – very specific measurable attainable realistic and timely. Also, start slow and start small and make sure you give the kids a break first. I have barely parented my kids the last two weeks since they have been out of school, and they have had all the time in the world to sleep, do very little chores, and spend lots of time with the one friend we have allowed each of them to begin seeing again.
If you’ve never done this with kids before you may begin to wonder where do you start? I would start by asking the kids what they’re interested in learning this summer. I also have a previous blog post with great resources and books including how to continue summer education or how to introduce money and giving (EMBED). Ultimately, start with brainstorming what you and your kids could create as a purpose for them this summer? I think this direction and productivity is an important part of mental health, especially when it’s partially self-directed. It increases the kids confidence in their ability to manage themselves well.
I can’t wait to hear what your plans are with your kiddos this summer! Make sure that you drop a comment below and also join our Facebook group.