“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 ESV
I read somewhere once that we get 18 summers with our children, while they are our children. Eighteen. They are numbered. That clearly resonated with me, because summers in my family growing up, and still, are always for adventure together. A few weeks of togetherness that created memories that became stories woven into the folkloric tales you tell for years to come. Think about it. How many times has your dad told that one story you will never live down? Was it made during a time of togetherness, like on a trip? We get 18 of those summers, and they go by fast.
These are the years and opportunities for cultivating; for speaking truth and goodness into our children as we are creating memories together. No need to have robotic and stiff life lessons, when you can be giggling on a trail somewhere, or swimming, or flying a kite, or horseback riding, or on an airplane. Life lessons can be learned anywhere at all times. The harvest comes later, because right now we are pruning, and fertilizing, and pulling weeds.
Do you know why play therapy works so well with children? Because they are more likely to talk and open up while their hands are busy. In the same way, going and experiencing something new together opens up channels of communicating because you are doing them together. Instead of reading about God’s creation in a book, how much more awe inspiring is it to go out a BE IN God’s creation? Wouldn’t it be fun to memorize a Bible verse while you are experiencing what it says? Psalm 95:4-5 ESV “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” Psalm 95:4-5 makes me want to plan a trip right now!
According to “Take Back Your Time” (.org) vacationing strengthens your relationships. “Vacationing with your family or loved ones help forge closer bonds. Studies have found women who take vacations with spouses report feeling more satisfied with their marriages. Research has also uncovered a correlation between children’s academic achievement and summer family vacations. These shared experiences promote family bonding, which is priceless. Family vacations create more memories than any other activity. In fact, other studies have found people place a higher value on the shared experiences they have on vacations than the material goods they have acquired during their lifetime.” Think about it, the only thing we can’t get back is time. You’re not going to want that LV purse at the end of your life, you’re going to want more time with those you love. The things you hold on to most are memories, not things.
Did I mourn a bit when my oldest turned nine and I realized I was halfway through? Yup, yup I did. I know, I know, I will always be his mom, and I will continue to be there to guide and teach, but there is a change once he is an adult. There has to be. I have to have created in him enough independence to be a man after God’s own heart, and be a leader in his own family once the time comes. I know that the next half of his childhood will be unique as well, so I will tailor our adventures to things that add a sparkle to his eye. When he’s excited, I know I’ve done something right. That doesn’t mean it can’t be something I want to do too, but I always like to include at least one thing I know each kid will enjoy and look forward too. The anticipation alone for the activity can be a teaching moment on its own.
Nurture your family unit. Pour into quality time with them exploring. You have 18 summers, and don’t think for one minute they are too young to take a trip. The younger the better because those kiddos learn how to travel well! The memories you as the parent will have still matter whether or not they can remember it. Watching your toddler do something epic in an environment totally new to them, will forever be etched in your mind, and as the parent you’ve earned that special moment! You have 18 summers, don’t waste them!
Kristin Petersen enjoys traveling and making memories with her husband, Tim, and 3 children. She is a graduate of Liberty University and former school teacher. She currently helps plan and create adventures for other families with Travelmation. Baseball and Disney take up most of her time.