Ah, sweet summertime.  

Some of us live for summer and a break from routine.  Some of us crave routine and the thought of having to create a new rhythm makes us start to sweat.  

As a person who falls in the second category (I love my paper calendar and the timer app on my phone is well used), let me encourage us all to have more fun.  

My children’s definition of fun means “spend money like it is water and eat everything under the sun”.  By their definition I am not very fun.  Every once in a while, I totally surprise them and do something that doesn’t cost much money and shockingly, it qualifies as fun!  Here is some inspiration to get your summer off to a fun start.

Taste Test
We are big ice cream lovers so we have done a family taste test the past two summers.  Our first summer, we compared different brands of cookies and cream ice cream.  Last summer, we tried several flavors of Little Debbie ice cream.  The key here is to make it work for your group. Make a score sheet if you like with criteria to judge different aspects of the ice cream.  We prefer to do a blind test and just talk about our choices, revealing our favorites at the end.  If ice cream is not your thing, try pizza, candy, chicken wings, or popsicles.  Choose something that fits your family and go for it!

Park Perusing
I am not an outdoorsy gal, but I have found that when my kids are having a “moment,” getting everyone outside almost always improves our attitudes toward each other.  You obviously know that it is hot where we live (duh) so going out first thing after breakfast is a way to beat the heat.  Also, I have found that driving north about 30 minutes to Travelers Rest and the mountains usually takes the temperature down about 10 degrees.  We try to go to as many different parks as we can in the summer.  We frequent the ones closest to us the most so we try to branch out and hit some up that are in Greer and in Greenville.  It is easy to find a list with park locations and details about what each park offers (playground, walking trails, restrooms, etc.) at the Greenville County Rec website.  

Goal Getter
Come up with a goal that everyone in your family can participate in.  It can be a family goal that everyone can participate in (“As a family, we are going to walk 5 miles each week.”), or each person can have a similar goal (“Every person in the family is going to make a goal for spending time walking each week.”).  Every summer, we have a goal to read 100 picture books as a family.  When the sun has chased us indoors and lunchtime is calling, we all settle down in the den with stacks of books.  While I am getting the baby down for a nap and refilling water bottles, each kid chooses a book or two for me to read aloud.  They also pick something to do to keep themselves busy if laying on the floor under the ceiling fan is not enough to keep quiet while I read.  

This year, I homeschooled Beck and after Christmas, we started memorizing Scripture.  He memorized over 6 verses in that short period of time!  I decided that we could all memorize some Bible verses this summer.  I don’t have a number goal, but I saw how simply reading and repeating the verse each day just 3 times lead to several verses being sealed in his memory and at the ready when he needs to recall them.  Kids are sponges and I am always impressed at their ability to memorize poems, songs, and Bible passages, and recall them.  Even if we just get one verse, that is one more Biblical truth that will be with them forever!

There is much fun to be found in just being together.  Even the most mundane and ordinary activities are elevated when they are done with people you love (or love to annoy, in the case of my children).  My last tip for finding fun is to let your kids lead.  They have great ideas.  If they love to compete, have them come up with different contests.  If the park has become boring, have them come up with something they can do at the park to dial up the fun.  I am confident there will be some baking and cooking competitions at my house this summer courtesy of my kids and their creativity.  

I hope you and your family end the summer with lots of memories and that most of them were fun!
Sarah Ellen Edwards