Summer is a great time of year. Families are traveling, going on vacation, and really enjoying life together. Or at least that’s what you think other families are doing. Those pictures offer so much summer encouragement. Based on what commercials and what everyone’s Instagram highlight reels look like they are frolicking on beaches getting along with each other and definitely no one was fighting on the 12-hour drive to get there.
I mean, only your family does that right? Only your kids are yelling that the other one is looking at them wrong or breathing wrong or simply existing wrong. Only you are scrambling to figure out how to leverage this summer and make it count. Right?
You are so wrong because you are not the only one. You are not the only family struggling to enjoy each other. I can promise you that. If you saw the outtakes of those photos on social media you would feel much better about what is happening on your own vacation.
But here is the great thing. You can still be encouraged and have an awesome time enjoying your family, even when it feels more like a dumpster fire than an inspiration. Because, regardless, you are making memories and your kids will likely remember the mishaps as adventures. I want to equip you with a few tips to keep you encouraged this summer.
I mean, this doesn’t really need an explanation but I’m going to give you one for the people in the back. Do you road trip often? Our family does. That is just what we do over the summer. And actually, that is when my husband and I get along the best.
I know, that seems counterintuitive because road trips with 5 kids can tend to be stressful. But here is our secret, we plan for the mishap and we laugh at ourselves.
I remember a trip we took last summer. We were driving through the mountains in Eastern Tennessee on our way to PA to visit family. This was the first time we drove our giant van on a road trip and let me tell you that driving through winding mountains has a different feel in a big van than in a Honda Odyssey.
Also, I’m a terrible passenger. For some reason I think all of my sounds, grasping at the door, and tension are going to make for a better experience. I just don’t understand why that doesn’t work. So anyway, I was apparently annoying my already tense husband because this was no picnic for him either. He ever so lovingly told me through clenched teeth with hands gripping the steering wheel at ten and two, that he would “open the door and push me out of the van if I didn’t stop.”
I just started laughing and then so did he because we both realized how ridiculous we were acting. It immediately lightened the mood.
No matter what the situation is this summer, find a way to laugh. Find something funny or happy to focus on because it will make the experience so much better that way. Your kids will appreciate it too. They will learn to “laugh at the time to come” because they saw you not take yourself too seriously.
Have A Plan
Unless you are new here you know that summer goes by in the blink of an eye. Before you know it shelves are lined with school supplies and it is time to head back to school. You may end up wondering where the time went and realizing that you didn’t get to do any of the things you wanted to do.
It is important to have a plan. Look at your schedule and decide what you are for sure going to do and when. Make a list of non-negotiable things, a list of would like to do’s, and a dream list. Get the non-negotiables on the calendar and get some plans in place to make sure execution is on point.
Your list doesn’t have to be long. Plan one or two intentional things for this summer to start and see how you feel about it. If it is already feeling like this is overwhelming then don’t plan anything else. Just play the rest of the summer by ear.
Yes, I recognize that this may seem like the opposite of what I just said. But they go hand in hand. Hear me out, it will all make sense by the end of this section. You can make all of the plans in the world but it is always possible that the plans will go off the rails. It is impossible to know who will get sick or hurt or if Covid will resurface. We just don’t know. So when you make plans it is best to hold them loosely.
Last summer we had planned to go to the Memphis Zoo to see the pandas and Fiona the baby hippo on our way home from Tennessee. We were all really excited. I mean, seriously excited. Well, guess what happened? I got an abscessed tooth. It was so painful that we just had to go straight home so I could get an emergency visit in with my dentist. Talk about a plot twist. We were disappointed but there was nothing that could be done.
That is why being flexible is so important. We just don’t know what is around the corner but getting mad and bent out of shape about it isn’t going to help.
Enjoy Your Kids and Give Grace
Summer is a time of fun and intense heat here in Texas and the best encouragement I can give you is to enjoy your kids. Yes, I said enjoy them. Even when they are bananas. Even when you seriously think about running away from home to join the circus because it would be less stressful than your circus. Because here is the truth. You only have so many summers with your kids before they leave the house and launch into adulthood. This is true about every day. You only have so many days left so leverage them well.
And along with enjoying your kids, you need to give grace. Grace for them because while summer is fun it is a time of dysregulation and lack of normal school year routine. They need a lot of understanding and love during this time. But you also need to give grace to yourself. You are simply one person and you, like me, probably don’t have the bandwidth to make this the most magical summer ever. Here is what I am going to do instead.
I am going to make this summer count for eternity. I am going to make this summer something that glorifies God in everything I do with my kids and those around me. Do you want to join me?
Are you looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marthe Durosier email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com