Ain’t NO mama got time for bored children’s life-draining, warring antics. So here are some of my go-tos when summertime heats things up on the homestead:
Check yo’self. (Before you wreck yo’self).
Sadly, when peace flies out the window ‘round here, I can usually trace the problem to my own stinky attitude. Like it or not, Mama sets the tone. We moms wield tremendous power—to either fortify or loose wrecking balls on our homes.
I’ve learned I need to get with God first thing each day–before Satan has the chance to infiltrate with his agenda: to steal, kill, and destroy. Total annihilation is his game –and he doesn’t waste any time. So I strive to get us all prayed and armored up at the outset.
Lysa TerKeurst nails it in her Unglued Devotional: “Each morning my mind is like a dry sponge. Whatever I soak up first is what I’ll be most saturated with each day. And what I’m most saturated with each day is what I’ll leak out onto others when life’s tough stuff squeezes me.” Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued Devotional (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 9-10.
If we want God’s peace to fill our homes, we mamas need first to be peace-soakers, so we can be peace-leakers.
Fill the family’s Scripture tank.
Years ago when I was drowning in stacks of parenting books and philosophies touting boxes my children refused to fit neatly into, God showed me this: when I don’t know the answer, it’s the Bible. I started taping passages around the house and made my kids write out verses befitting their crimes…and watched Scripture’s Sword penetrate our hearts, and transform our home.
“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’ ” Luke 12:13-15 (NIV)
This, the prologue to the parable of the rich fool, boasts a trove of riches in and of itself:
- See? Even Jesus was annoyed at having to play referee! Moms, we can quote Jesus here, in our exasperation!
- Most conflicts stem from the Me Monster: selfishness. A great object lesson to share with kids, and discuss, exposing the great lengths we will go, to acquire what’s rightfully another’s.
Here are a few more Scriptures to get you started:
“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:11-14 (NIV)
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (NLT)
And one that’s become a mantra in the Bauer household:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Choose a verse each week to meditate on as a family and watch the tone in your home change…
Make ye a LIST.
And make it a family activity—brainstorm inexpensive ideas for summer fun, and check them off each week (dollar movies, museums, park-hopping, kite-flying, hiking, biking, roller-rinks, themed picnics, etc.) Choose one every week, or every day, if you’re ambitious–or simply when you need a distraction in the worst way. This is one of the best things we’ve done—a sanity-saver if ever there was one. Having a bucket list of sorts keeps everyone’s spirits up through the summer months, while stockpiling family treasure—memories!
Structure: the summer sanity-saver.
I know I’ve just set off a chain-cringe among the free spirited, but may I submit that everyone needs a little structure in her life? Our kids get a steady diet of it at school, so as tempting as it might be to relegate the S-word to the closet with their backpacks, you might want to test it out in the summer months!
Yes ma’am, the Bauer kids have doors-shut, don’t-care-if-they-say-they’re-too-old for-it quiet time every afternoon (mainly so their introverted Queen Mother can relish a cocoon of silence for thirty delicious minutes). However I’m a firm believer they need this recharge as much as I do. I also enforce reading time, which we use as currency for video game time, and chore lists they must complete each day, before said technology time may commence.
Never fear…we do make time for fun. However the name of the summer-survival game is BALANCE. Think of it like an equation: reading time (a.k.a. Mom’s life-saving QT with God) + fun activity + quiet time + chore time + backyard playtime = a great, balanced summer day. Plus, the day looks a lot less intimidating when divided into manageable chunks.
Embrace the growth inherent in summertime, and thrive!
The fact is, summer vacation is a gift–a precious gift of time. A Sabbath of sorts, that families desperately need every nine months. And most of us mamas truly desire to squeeze the marrow out of every last minute.
“So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don’t run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times.” Ephesians 5:15-16 (VOICE)
Just like the verdant earth, our families can burst with new life, thriving in the space and sunlight of summer—so we can all belt out, with passion equaling Alice Cooper’s: “SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER”!