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9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

Childhood is short.
Summer is even shorter.
God willing, eighteen summers are what we get with our children at home full-time in our nest.

How will your family spend this precious summer season?

While June, July, and August may be perfect for lazy days and relaxation, we mustn’t make the mistake of aimlessly drifting through the summer months without purposely making a proactive plan for our family.

What exactly is it that you want and need?

I love that summer provides my teenagers mornings to sleep in and time to rest and recover from their normally stressful high school scheduled programming. Yet, more downtime equates to more screen time if we’re not mindful.

How can we get our kids off screens and make this summer count?

I know this summer of ours matters yet how do we make the most of it despite our realities and circumstances?

We must decide to deliberately design our summers.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

1. Teach life skills
With more free time, we can take the opportunity to teach our children how to do their own laundry, cook, clean, or change a tire. Perhaps you finally open that bank account or help your child start a little business. Or simply teach them to tie their shoes or handwrite, address, and mail a thank you note.

What life skill will you purposely teach your child this summer?

2. Prioritize play
Summer is the time to strengthen family relationships and sibling bonds. Deliberately purchase new indoor and outdoor games that give your family members a reason to play together. Check out my Parent on Purpose Amazon store for our family favorites.

Where are your family playgrounds?

Fun can be found at your dining table for card games or going to the pool. Perhaps it’s fishing at the pond or hiking in the mountains. Maybe it’s bike riding to seek out geocaches together in your hometown. One of our favorite family playgrounds is the beach in California.

Where does your family enjoy playing together? Go there.

3. Strengthen family values and purpose
Summer is a great time to strengthen family values and purpose which may have gotten buried under the reality of a busy school year.

We send our kids to sleep away summer camp for a couple of weeks to strengthen every aspect of their lives as well as for my husband and me to begin to successfully separate from our children.

Our family also goes on a medical mission trip to the Yucatan to serve the beautiful, yet impoverished, community together. We also seek out ways to help locally when we can as well.

What is it that you do that says this is who we are as a family? This is what WE do.

What have you purposely planned this summer to strengthen your family purpose?

4. Cultivate an atmosphere of growth
Summer can be a time for family members to learn new skills as well as strengthen existing ones. Take advantage of camps, classes, clinics, or unique opportunities that can help grow passions and personal interests.

What is something new each family member can learn this summer?
What passion will each person continue to pursue and grow?

5. Sacrifice personal pursuits
Make sure you are also willing to sacrifice personal pursuits once in a while to carve out family time together. Don’t be afraid to have your child miss some training, classes, practices, or opportunities so that your family can enjoy quality time to bond together.

What are you willing to sacrifice this summer so your family can spend quality time together?

6. Make mindful entertainment choices
Binge-watching television shows or non-stop video game play isn’t a good use of our child’s time. Sure, there may be space for mindless entertainment choices this summer, but we must purposely set boundaries on them, so they don’t consume our days.

Make reading a priority in your home this summer. If your kids have required reading for school, help them make a plan to proactively get those books finished. Be sure that your kids also see you taking the time to read as well.

What healthy entertainment choices will you choose for your family this summer?


7. Go on local adventures
You don’t have to venture further than your hometown for family fun. Most of us take for granted the exciting places that surround us locally that we’ve never taken the time to visit… yet.

You don’t even have to leave the comforts of your own home to create meaningful memories either. Or maybe you’re at a stage where your family would thrive on an epic vacation.

What adventures will you create this summer that will add to your family narrative and strengthen your relationships?

8. Clean, organize and discard
The summer months might be a perfect time to clean out bedrooms, closets, and garages with your kid’s help. Purposely decide where to donate your treasures. Maybe have a family garage sale to support a cause or just to have fun together earning some extra summer spending money.

Where can you purposely take your donated treasures to benefit an organization you believe in and want to support?

9. Save space for spontaneity
We don’t want to be so scheduled and entertained that we have no space for spontaneous fun this summer. Purposely leave open spots on the calendar for boredom and time to decide on a whim to take a day trip or to go try a new ice cream or donut shop.

Don’t get to the end of summer and realize that you didn’t take the time or make an effort to differentiate this special season at all.

How will you deliberately spend this summer?

Questions to Ask Yourself-

  • What does each family member need this summer to strengthen them physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally?
  • What frustrated you the most this school year? Work on improving that area this summer so when school rolls around again you may have established better habits.
  • What summer family tradition will you repeat again this year? Summer wouldn’t be summer without this…. bike rides to the bagel shop or boating on the lake. What are the simple things your family does each summer together?
8 replies
  1. Renee McKinney
    Renee McKinney says:

    LOVED this article! My girls are 13 and 9 and although it may feel like I still have a lot of years left with them, I really don’t. This is the first summer where they are doing more with their friends and less with me-which I guess is a stepping stone. I wrote down the tips above and plan to show this to my husband, so we can make some plans. 🙂

  2. Suzie
    Suzie says:

    We just moved to a new area in January. Yes, my daughter met some some class friends but not very many. We are low on funds at that minimum moment. We live very near the beach but, we are both fair & burn even with SPF 50. I make us both read at least an hour a day & she rides a bike for an hour a day for exercise. What else can we do to fill our days. I’m lucky that she does want to do things with me. I want to take advantage of every second of this time ( all we have is each other since my husband/her father died just almost 4 years ago. The 1st 3 summers I took her to an overnight camp & worked it so she could go for free but, it wasn’t quite the experience it should have been ( 2-3 generations have gone to this camp & they all lived a short distance from the camp. The 1st year a girl poured very hot water over the shower on her. ) We changed camps & she had a good time but doesn’t want to go back a be the new kid again another year ( I tried to let her see a lot of the US along the way to camps each year ) But, what can I do with her this summer now that we are staying home? She’s brushing up on some subjects at school till 11:30am 4 days a week so she can increase her GPA ( her idea to which I’m proud ) but, this leaves a lot of time to fill with not a lot of monetary help.

    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      Hi Suzie. It’s a really good question on what can we do with our kids as a single parent without extra cash to spend?! Sounds like you’ve got well-rounded activities planned already. I’m not sure how old your daughter is, but can you work on building more life skills? Cooking? A business on ebay? What’s something creative you can do in your home? Work on printing pictures and putting together family albums or framing some of your favorites? There are lots of quality podcasts, videos and shows to watch too, if you seek them out. Here’s a compilation I like…https://grownandflown.com/10-graduation-speeches-stand-cheer/. Is there somewhere you can serve others together in your community? Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy summer!

  3. Cindy Carney
    Cindy Carney says:

    This is so well written Amy!!! These ideas/ parenting strategies make sense and are very attainable! I hope that by the end of the summer my family and I have some great memories to return to school with!


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