Our story begins with me sitting in my recliner on Mother’s Day sobbing hysterically. My…
We just had our yearly summer family vacation, a near miracle to schedule as your adult children and mates climb the ladders of success in their given careers– and as grands begin to get jobs, go on summer missions, compete in sports, or attend summer camps. But God carved out 6 days of Southern California sunshine for some precious memory making for our family this year. We usually ask at the beginning of the week, “What would it make it feel like vacation to each of you?” Then we do our best to plan in at least one thing off each family member’s list. Here are SEVEN of our favorite fun ideas for you to try with your family too:
- Build a Family Brand: One of our daughters in love works for a brand company, and another owns a Cricket*, so T shirts, mugs, tumblers, bags and swag are all possibilities! This summer, at our first meal together, was the unveiling of our “summer tee 2022” . Let me share what the symbolism means on the back. The design replicates the look of a “yacht club” (a nod to Papa, Captain of our family) because we live on a boat. The theme says, “Where family meetings start in 5 minutes!” (a saying I (Nana) used ALOT while raising three sons) and #voluntold (My favorite way to delegate is to say to one of the sons (or now grands), “Honey, I will let you carry in the groceries, let you take out the trash, let you set the table, etc. ” It is a combo of being volunteered and told a task to complete) Having a good sense of humor helps make creating a family brand a positive experience.
- Snap a Family Photo: It helps to have some matching shirts or a color template or even a suggestion of “dress Sunday best” or “dress beach casual” .If you can afford to buy each family member an item, it might lower the stress when it comes to photo time. Arrange a professional photographer for best results, but a phone with a good camera and timer can work well too. The most important tips are (1) Set the photo shoot someplace comfortable (2) set the time after naps and with tummies full (3) take a gazillion (well many in a row quickly in a few poses and places) and the most vital tip, (4) plan on the photos being, “perfectly IMPERFECT”. It is just as important to capture the giggles, pouting faces, and awkward phases of youth.
- Stay Active: Take family walks, hikes, or bike together. If your family loves water sports, strap on lifejackets and jet ski, kayak, or paddleboard. This year we had a “right of passage” with several of our grandchildren deciding to kayak to a near by frozen yogurt cafe. On the way home, accompanied with the strongest adult kayakers, as we paddled home, the wind came up. Our grands dug in, put on their brave and paddled on! These children felt like victorious warriors when we landed dockside!
- Relax! Do not over plan your schedule, decide which meals are “must attends” and which can be “on your own” . We have a flexible breakfast as family members (especially teens and two pregnant daughters in love) took turns sleeping in. We keep lunch items and snacks on hand and sometimes we eat all at once at midday, other times it is “as you get hungry- fix your own”. Dinners are an entire family event! We also schedule time for a few meals being just Nana and Papa with the grands so the married couples can get in a “date night” or a “grown up siblings” activity. Some vacations, we host an all girls and an all guys activity. We also have plenty of fun deserts like a smores bar and fire pit or brownies and ice cream (with bonus points if you hand crank this!) Our family enjoys the farmer’s market, sidewalk art shows, local parks or chalk drawing on sidewalk, or painting stones with positive messages and go on a family “hope walk” and place these stones of love along the path for others to see and gain encouragement. Have a stash of cards and family games on hand too.
- Have a daily family devotional time. This was my favorite moment of our family vacation this year. The first morning, Bill, our patriarch, gave a 5 minute “kick- off- the- week” devotional, then each morning after, one of our adult sons shared. All I asked is that they share some verse or slice of what God was teaching them, so we gained wisdom from God’s Word and a glimpse into the heart and ministry of each son. Other year’s we have asked the grandkids to lead a church service (one will preach, another lead a song, do a dance to praise music, lead in a craft etc.) It can be a highlight to see a grand mimic Papa’s preaching and Nana speaking on one of her books.
- Family prayer time: We find it goes smoother if we host this during babies nap time or after the infants are rocked to sleep at night. We welcome toddlers through great grandparents to participate. Each is given a 3 x 5 card for every person represented. We either start with the youngest or oldest, that person shares his or her request, then we set a two minute timer to pray silently and ask God to give each of us a scripture, a word of encouragement, a quote, or we write or draw a prayer. We then give each person their set of prayer cards for them to have to use as a part of their own devotional life until the next family vacation.
- Create Spiritual Moments- Depending on your family, this can be any of these ideas:
- Gather a Basket of devotionals and various bible versions and give everyone their own journal and pen.
- Family hymn or praise chorus sing along
- Play Christian music in the background or in the vehicles
- Have a different person say grace before meals
- Print Christian scripture coloring sheets or gift one of the Discovering the Bible Creative Bible Studies or other Bible Art resource with colored pens and pencils. This is a marvelous multi-generational activity
- Listen to a video, podcast or movie and discuss spiritual message
- Play a Bible game (lots of options on Christianbook.com)
Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come
Catch Pam and Bill Farrel on Focus on the Family radio on Aug 18 as they share how to help strengthen and support your marriage and family with a weekly Marriage Meet Up. (Watch the Farrels share the “secret strength” of their marriage on You Tube)