Summer Survival Tips with a Purpose
by Beth Seversen
Do you love the lazy, spontaneous days of summer? Or do you find those endless summer days just that, endless? If the latter is true of you, then perhaps you’ve experienced the struggle of trying to come up with ideas to keep your kids active, learning, and getting along with each other during these months.
Here are some fresh ideas for the approaching season that will also allow you to get to know women.
Invite all the moms from one of your children’s classrooms to a summer survival coffee. On your invitation, ask everyone to be prepared to share one summer fun idea. Encourage mothers of preschoolers not to let childcare issues prevent them from coming. Have a basket of toys and a VeggieTales video handy to occupy toddlers. When women RSVP and offer to bring something, let them! They will feel ownership for your gathering and are much more likely to attend if they’re contributing something. On the other hand, assure overwhelmed moms that they don’t need to bring a thing, other than themselves.
By using summer as a theme for your gathering, you can keep the menu and décor simple. Set out buckets, shovels and sand toys for centerpieces. Strew jump ropes, colored sidewalk chalk or jacks and rubber balls across the serving table. Offer lemonade, iced tea, Cracker Jacks, peanuts, and Popsicles -- anything that reminds you of summer. If your kids have some spare stickers, put ladybugs, bicycles, ice cream cones, roller skates, and flowers on plain name tags or labels. Hunt around the house and garage for things you already have -- picnic cloths, potted plants, bottles of bubbles, a baseball cap or mitt to enhance your theme.
Introduce your guests to each other, and socialize over treats. Try not to hurry people or appear rushed because you have an agenda. The main agenda is for you to get to know your guests better and for them to enjoy themselves. This is a fun, casual way of deepening relationships, hoping that God will use you at some point to help bring these friends to Christ.
When it seems appropriate, ask the moms to share their summer survival tips. Go first in order to give them time to collect their thoughts and to observe you modeling what you want from them. The last time I did this I brought out my daughters’ and my sketchbooks. Since the girls were three and four, we have each had a sketchbook we use two or three times a week in the summer. We may set up a still life to draw, sketch in the garden or study art books purchased at garage sales for ideas. None of us has any drawing experience. We merely draw, gab, and giggle as we politely peek at each other’s humble creations.
Results of Summer Survival
One of the mothers recorded all our ideas and sent copies home in the kids’ backpacks. The list was a reminder of the fun afternoon we had. Moms called one another for further explanation and to make dates for strawberry picking and museum outings. You also have an opportunity to followup with a guest to plan that picnic in the park she mentioned. One summer our girls each invited a friend over one morning a week for a “club.” We planned three stations: a craft, a story discussion, and snack preparation. Yarn around the house was collected to make yarn dolls and teach finger knitting. The girls squeezed into the playhouse for a read-aloud of The Hundred Dresses or There’s an Owl in the Family. We threw a little of this and a little of that from the kitchen cupboard into Ziploc bags to make gorp: Cheerios, mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips, raisins, pretzels, whatever we could find. And we built plenty of time for free play into our schedule.
Plan time in your summer schedule to get to really know and love your neighbors and their children. Just as our Father sent Jesus into the world, so our Lord sends us into the world. Our Lord Jesus also prays for those who will believe in Him through our message (Jn. 17: 18, 20)! Make play with friends a priority this summer. Knock on neighbors’ doors and invite them to join you in the evening for watermelon in the backyard. Pray that the Lord will help you develop lasting friendships based on trust and understanding and for future opportunities to talk about spiritual things. Don’t only survive the summer, but invest in it with hopes of eternal returns.
Summer Fun Ideas
Plan one or several of these fun activities with your kids this summer and don’t forget to invite a friend!
- Horseback riding
- Blueberry picking
- Sewing project, i.e. a “Mom and me” quilt
- Read chapter books aloud to one another
- Host a Friday night gathering for older children -- invite friends for kick the can or flashlight tag and snacks
- Set up tents in the backyard
- Have a spontaneous kids’ yard sale
- Throw a Beanie Baby birthday party
- Set up an outdoor nail salon
- Put on a neighborhood pet parade
- Set up an obstacle course in the backyard
- Put on a neighborhood magic show