Summertime Madness

Carly and Vanessa sat on a park bench watching their children play and drinking the coffee Vanessa had brought for both of them. “Did you see the pictures Miranda posted this morning from their Disney trip?” Vanessa asked.

Carly nodded. “Home from vacation and on to the next thing. Wonder if they’ve even unpacked with all the other stuff they do.”

“Like the 5k they’re supposed to do tomorrow?” Carly snorted into her coffee. Vanessa continued, “Next week they’re at day camp. They’ve been to several of the free summer movies too. And the kids are taking swim lessons.” She paused, thinking with a concerned look. “I’m wondering when she’ll have time to plan for the retreat in September. As far as I know she’s officially in charge of it.”

Just then Carly’s and Vanessa’s phones buzzed with a message from Miranda asking if they’d like to join her summer book club, which would include crafts for the kids. “That sounds fun, but I just can’t even with her,” Carly said. “I don’t even want to read in the summer. I’m content to take the kids to the pool a few times and rest. Summer is too short anyway, and I have enough to do during the school year. My introvert brain needs a break. If I was a cool mom I’d do more, but by the time I think to plan something, summer is practically over.”

Vanessa sighed. “I kind of feel like I should be doing more, but it seems like no matter how much or how little you plan to do you always end up crazy busy. I do feel bad when the kids don’t get to do the things they love over the summer, though.”

Carly shrugged. “No matter what you do the kids still complain that they’re bored for two months straight.”

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.--Ephesians 4:32

Summer is here, ladies. What’s your plan? Are you Miranda, filling up every minute of every day with activities, or are you Carly, using summer as an excuse to say, “My job’s done for now,” and scoffing at the Mirandas you know? Or are you Vanessa, floating somewhere between the two and not knowing what to do about either of your friends who seem to have their priorities in the wrong order?

What attitudes are behind these mindsets? A casual, or perhaps cynical, observer might assume Miranda is just trying to show off or win some contest or is gathering blog or social media content. There’s no denying that possibility, but consider the alternative–that Miranda is genuinely trying to steward her blessings well and is just misguided. Maybe she really does want to bring up her children well and to be a hardworking mom, but she falls prey to the pride that tells her she must be the “best” mom.

And what shall we do about Carly, who, to someone who’s more inclined to do “all the things,” might seem lazy and selfish in her not wanting to fill up her summer schedule with activities? Maybe she really is lazy and selfish, or maybe she’s just worn out and overwhelmed (or both, as those things certainly can go hand-in-hand). Perhaps she can’t seem to keep her head above water and can’t imagine adding more to her already messy and overflowing plate.

Both Miranda and Carly have sins to contend with. If indeed they are Christians, they have some kind of motivation to do what’s right, but according to their life experience, indwelling sin, and personality types, they’re tempted by different things. They both need to examine their hearts, repent, and pray for better attitudes. Miranda can still stay busy but do it in a way that doesn’t exasperate her husband and children and cause her household duties to be neglected. Carly can still be more laid-back but in a more organized and unselfish way. Both ladies need to depend on their husbands and other Christian women to help them order their lives in godly ways and keep them accountable.

By the way, if you are Vanessa, don’t get pulled in by the temptation to gossip with Miranda and Carly, each about the other. Pray for them both, and do what you can to help them, both physically and spiritually. Instead of complaining with them about each other, help each to see the other’s good qualities and encourage them to pray for each other as well.

Whatever category we fall into, let’s be charitable toward each other. Let’s love our neighbor and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Find out why your friends do what they do on a daily basis, and help where you can. Pray for them, and pray about your own attitude and priorities as well.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.--Galatians 6:9-10

And just where along this summer-busyness spectrum should you be? First things first–pray about it. Then get some guidance from your husband, or if you’re not married, from your parents. How much you should fill your summer schedule depends on a lot of things, including your personality, your stage in life, and your budget. If you have a hard time handling crowds multiple times a week, don’t plan on going to the zoo on Tuesday and the pool on Friday. If you’re about to have a baby, don’t go hiking. If you’re in college and have a summer job, don’t offer to babysit every day. If you can barely afford your bills, don’t get a season pass to the water park.

But on the flip side, if you don’t mind being at the park for play dates but can’t motivate yourself to put together lunch for yourself and the kids, pray about your attitude and love your neighbor enough to do something fun for your kids and hang out with your friends. Plan to have the housework done enough the day before to feel good about leaving the house on play-date day. Get the kids to help with the preparations. If you can afford it, buy Lunchables or one of those meat and cheese trays that so often get marked down at Kroger. If your budget is tight, stick to parks close to you and bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. There’s plenty of cheap and free fun to be had.

If you’re a teenager and just want all your time to yourself or want to sleep all day over the summer, pray about your attitude and see what family you can assist on a fun outing. Do this regularly. It will do your heart good!

Summer is a great time to do what you don’t have time for during the school year, but it certainly comes with challenges. Pray continually about it, and make sure you’re getting guidance from your husband (or parents) and trusted Christian friends no matter your level of confidence about what you’re doing with your time.

To help you along, here’s a list of fun things you can do in our area!

  • Have themed playdates at your house. Invite a couple families over for water play, painting, tie-dye, or pizza making. Some of these ideas involve a lot of prep work, but if you do it just one time this summer, chances are your kids will be talking about it for the rest of the year, and it’s a lot less work than a full-blown party.

  • Start a book club, one for kids and one for grown-ups. You could even make a list of picture books for the little kids, or you could have story time when you meet. The older kids could even read to the younger kids! Print out coloring pages or have the kids draw something about their stories while the moms talk about the book they’re reading. The grown-up book doesn’t have to be a Bible study or a theology book (though it certainly could be); there’s plenty to talk about in good fiction!

  • Combine Bible study with a weekly play date. Talk about what you’re studying for a half hour to an hour while the kids play, and then have lunch and hang out.

  • Invite a friend over for the day. You don’t have to have anything planned. Moms can chat and kids can play. All you have to figure out is lunch.

  • Go to the splash pad! Here are a few good ones in the area:
    • Kevin Hammersmith Park in New Albany
    • Silver Street Park in New Albany
    • Clarksville Cove–Not free, so plan in advance.
    • Robsion Park in Louisville
    • Beckley Creek Park in Louisville–This park is huge, so if you want the playground you need to find Marshall Playground and Sprayground. The playground and splash pad are great, and they’re close enough to the creek that you can easily head over to it if you want to include that in your park trip.
    • Charlestown Family Activities Park—It costs $5 for ages 3 and up, but that includes the splash pad, playground, putt-putt, skating, outdoor games, and video games. It’s worth the price! There’s also a concession stand available.

  • Visit a park with a lake or creek–This adds a whole different element from just a playground or splash pad, especially if you have older boys who get bored at the playground. Here are a few good ones:
    • Hayswood Nature Preserve in Corydon: Yes, that’s the one with the monster playground. The trail to Indian Creek is pretty far from the playground, but it’s definitely worth checking out. There are tons of birds to see and hear, and there’s a bridge where you can easily see frogs, turtles, and fish in the water. The plant life is pretty, too, and the walking path is stroller-friendly!
    • Sam Peden Community Park in New Albany: The playground is nice, and the pond is fun to explore! There’s a variety of waterfowl to observe, and there are tons of wildflowers. You can even go fishing there.
    • Chapel Lake Park in Jeffersonville: The playground and walking path do not offer shade, so plan on going when the weather is on the cooler side. There is a nice big shelterhouse, but it’s not right beside the playground. It’s really cool if you’re a fan of barn swallows, though. The walking path around the lake is stroller-friendly, but it can feel a bit long with younger kids even though it’s really only about half a mile. There’s all kinds of plant life to observe along the path, and if you step up to the water you can easily see small fish and turtles and hear frogs. Butterflies are numerous there, too.
    • Borden Community Park: The creek at this park is very nice. Don’t go with little kids if it’s been raining a lot because it gets too deep and moves too fast for tiny people, but if it hasn’t been raining much, the water is clear and shallow and beautiful. The creek is shaded by trees and surrounded by ever so many kinds of rocks to examine, including geodes and skipping rocks. It’s truly a lovely place. There are a small playground and a shelter house as well. You can’t see them from the creek because you have to walk down the bank to get to the water, but they are right next to it.
    • Brown Park in St. Matthews–The park is beautiful and offers plenty of shade, and the playground is good for both little kids and big kids.

  • Get Cultural Passes: If you haven’t used the Cultural Pass, check it out and see if anything interests you. Cultural Passes are free, and they get passholders free admission to many fun locations around Louisville. Sign up online or in-person and pick up your pass in person at your local library. Here’s the official website. Find your library at the bottom of the page.  Some of the things on the pass may be woke but others are a lot of fun. 

  • Do long-term educational projects together, such as gardening. Start small; if you plant a huge garden when you’ve never done it before, you’ll likely be overwhelmed and burnt out before you’re even able to harvest. Start with a few tomato or strawberry plants, or even propagate lettuce or potatoes you’ve bought from the store.

  • Go on educational nature-focused outings, such as hikes where you teach your kids (or learn as a family) about various plants and animals, stargazing and finding constellations, and fishing.

  • Work on home-centered projects like canning, sewing, or yard work

Let’s make the most of our summer and set a good example for our kids and our peers. Don’t let the bugs and the heat get to you; there are ways of minimizing their effect on you. Pray about your attitude toward those as well. Talk to the other ladies at church about what you can do together. Summer is made by God just as fall, winter, and spring are. Don’t waste it.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.--Philippians 4:6-7