3 Ideas to Make Your Summer Count

By Rachel Tiemeyer

In 3 Steps to Prepare for Summer 2020, I shared some simple ways for prepare to make your summer at home with kids a great one. As you think through your goals and schedule for this summer, consider these three ideas that I’ve learned and tried to implement over the years.

It’s been exciting to see how these ideas have reaped benefits in our home and in our kids’ lives. I hope they do in yours, too!

Idea #1: Involve your kids in household chores.

As the acclaimed parenting book How to Raise an Adult reminds us, our job as parents is to raise adults who can run their own lives with competence and confidence. That is where chores come in.

Part of that training towards adulthood is teaching them how to do age-appropriate tasks at home now–like caring for pets, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. Our kids can do much more than we often give them credit for! Instilling a strong work ethic and helping them care for the things they own and spaces they live in starts when they are young.

Below is an example of a chore chart I used when my kids were 7, 5, and 3. Notice how I wrote down my own chores to keep myself accountable!

Last summer, I used a laminated Summer Daily Checklist (see example below) for my 12, 10, and 8-year-olds. This starts their day with the same rhythm. The kids used a dry erase marker to check off tasks. Our checklist helped us meet many of our goals: house chores, reading, spiritual growth, and exercise.

I often remind my children that working around the house is part of being a good family member. While they certainly don’t get rewarded for everything they do, I do have some rewards in place if they complete their summer checklists. They can’t have free time or screen time that day until they have finished, teaching them to put work before play.

Also, they earn a small allowance in the summer at the end of the week if they have done their daily checklist each day and helped clean the whole house one day a week (see more below). I didn’t always do this, but an allowance has given them a way to learn how to earn, spend, save, and give money.

As my children have gotten older, I have added in one day a week where we all clean the house from top to bottom. This has been a life-saver for me and lets them try out and learn more advanced chores, like cleaning the shower, mopping, or cleaning the windows. It does take time on my end to oversee their work and help them learn to do it the right way, but it’s gotten easier for them each summer.

Idea #2: Plan a few ways to serve others.

“The world doesn’t revolve around you.” That phrase sounds calloused in today’s parenting culture, but it might be one of the best things we can teach our children.

I don’t know about you, but the people I tend to like to work with and be around the most are those who think about themselves the least. As a Christian, “loving our neighbor” is an especially high value for our family, so I want to be intentional about serving others this summer.

It may not be possible to do an organized service project this summer during the pandemic, but there are lots of ways we can get creative to serve others. A service project can be as simple as thinking about people in your neighborhood, school, or community whom you could help or encourage. 

Here are just a few ideas, but I’m sure you and your kids can come up with a whole list of your own:

  • Make no-bake cookies with the kids and deliver them to neighbors with an encouraging note.
  • Make a freezer meal for a new mom or a homebound at-risk person who may appreciate the help.
  • Clean up trash in a local park or your neighborhood.
  • Write a letter to someone in a nursing home who might be lonely right now.

One of the outcomes of serving others is that we begin to become more grateful ourselves.

Idea #3: Stock up on great learning resources.

Lastly, take the time to invest in new books, board games, and puzzles each summer. My kids think it’s Christmas at the beginning of summer when I open up a big box of summer learning resources for them.

Polly and I have curated our favorite learning toys and resources in one place for you…

We’ve also curated a list of some of our favorite board games to give you some ideas…

Audiobooks are another fun way to spend your summer when you’re in the car or at night before bedtime. We’ve gathered some of the best audiobooks for families here…

To help your children grow spiritually, you may want to invest in an age-appropriate Bible. I’ve written a review of some of the best children’s Bibles to make it easy for parents. (You’ll find some of the best tween/teen Bibles here.)

Be sure to restock your craft and art supplies to help your kids’ creative juices flow all summer long. Grab some of these items:

  • Construction and white paper
  • Good quality markers
  • Stickers
  • Stamps and ink pads
  • Pipe cleaners (my kids come up with all kinds of creations with these)
  • Embroidery thread and beads – for making jewelry
  • Do-a-Dot Paints – These are my favorite paints for preschoolers! Very little mess and very fun to use!
  • Water color and/or acrylic paints and good brushes
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles (Polly’s family has enjoyed this cool bubble wand set.)
  • An egg timer (for timing Clean-Up Time, Reading Time, Room Time, and time-outs for younger kids)
  • Journals (for writing stories or as a nature notebook on walks)
30+ Journal Prompts for Kids (FREE PRINTABLE)

When all else fails, give your kids a box. Seriously. They might amaze you.

I know I’ve given you a lot of ideas and resources. I sincerely hope you can choose one or two ways to be intentional at home this summer. With just a bit of planning, you can prepare for your family’s most meaningful and memorable summer yet!

Check out my article about 3 simple steps for preparing for your summer. It’s never too late to set a few goals and create a schedule!


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