As many people are watching their kids graduate from High School as I write this blog today, many others are realizing how limited time really is with our kids. I recently read a blog that reminded us that we have 18 summers between birth and graduation with our kids. This equates to 936 weeks. The reality that this summer is our seventeenth summer with my oldest son really put this in perspective.
It is sobering to think about that fact that we are in the final stretch of preparing a little red headed and fun loving boy for his future as an adult. Our goal has always been to help our kids grow into independent young men who will seek God’s plan for themselves and have the courage to follow it. That is all well and good until we realize that will probably lead them to spread their wings in a place where we are not living. Not that I want my kids to live on our basement when they are 30 or anything, but I do love having them with us. My oldest son is at a place where we can have real conversations about important topics, he can provide insight and wisdom, and I absolutely love seeing him beginning to come into his own. So how do we prepare our kids for their future and enjoy the process?
Make Memories! There is nothing like the feeling of knowing school is out and the summer is here… for our kids at least. As adults we still have a job in the summer and sometimes the fact that our kids don’t have school complicates this season of the year. Let’s not forget it is summer. Plan some lazy days, movie nights, and vacations. Roast marshmallows, let them play outside with the neighborhood kids past dark and buy enough popsicles so all the kids in the neighborhood hang out at your house. Memories are created when we intentionally let life happen. Embrace moments that can create memories. Remember we have over 900 weeks with our kids. Let’s say we allow space to make memories once a week, that is a lot of relationship building through fun.
Take the Trip! Summer can come and go and we realize we never took the vacation we talked about. We just never had the time to sit down and plan or maybe it seemed like the money should be spent on something more important. If we only have 18 opportunities to make vacation memories I think we better take the trip. We have a week where we can all disconnect from “real life” and spend time together. Whether it is a cheap vacation or the trip you have all been dreaming about… go for it! We only get 18 opportunities.
Be Intentional But Don’t Over Plan – We can get so caught up in creating memories that we feel like we need to create intentional moments. I am a firm believer that we need to be intentional with strengthening our relationships but not so intentional we miss the opportunities that just happen to come up. When I sit down with my kids to “have a talk” they know it and clam up. When I bribe them to go to the grocery store with me with an offer for ice cream they become an open book. No one ever asks if they can go to the grocery store with me, but if I can get them there they seem to be able to tell me about what is happening in their lives in the midst of picking out cereal. For some reason when there is food on the grill my teenage boys end up on the back porch with us, so we grill out… a lot. Let’s not get so busy that we miss seeing when our kids are willing to engage. Let’s jump on those moments like white on rice as the older our kids get the fewer and more far between those opportunities become.
Lead by Example – I want my kids to create beautiful moments and memories that are a part of building deep relationships within their own families someday. I want them to see us slow down enough to engage in a moment that comes our way. I want them to learn a parent says “yes” to a game of basketball in the driveway even if it means the floor doesn’t get swept or dinner is late. I want them to see that we should always prioritize time to connect with our spouse. I want them to see the priority of connecting with God and studying His Word. I want them to see us celebrate our anniversaries, a promotion, and a good grade on a test. I want to set a foundation in 936 weeks that bleeds into a close relationship for our entire lives.
So today I am going to follow the example of Jesus’ mom and as it says she did in Luke 2:19; “but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” I am also going to go ahead and plan the trip for this summer. What about you?