bringing families together

6 Ideas for Bringing Families Together This Summer

Summer is here and many parents find themselves without a plan. Isn’t summer supposed to be bringing families together? So far, odds are bad. The “get out of town” family vacation is a no-go this year. It could be because of money or schedules. Whatever the reason, it’s not happening. But that doesn’t mean your summer can’t be good.

However, if we’re not intentional, one day, the fall school semester will start and it’ll be too late. So what can we do to make this summer special, unique, and family-friendly? Here are 6 ideas for bringing families together this summer.

1. If you can’t take a vacation, take a weekend.

Or two. My wife and I blew our vacation budget on a large trip last year, so this year we’re doing a “staycation” anchored by two weekends away. The point here is to plan intentional activities that are not run-of-the-mill. “A change,” the old saying goes, “is as good as a rest.”

2. Plan a series of “one tank trips” based out of your home.

So you’re staying put? See what’s going on within a couple of hours’ drive of home, learn some local history, visit some local sites. Find out what tourists come to your town to see or do and then pretend to be them for a week.

3. Friday night is movie night.

Or Wednesday night is bowling night. Or Monday night is board game night—you get the idea. This is about acting like you’re on vacation. What happens when you travel? Everyone does everything together. You may not be in a cheap motel in another state, but you can be together as a family. Move the furniture, put a blanket on the floor, order a pizza, turn off the phone, and do a family double feature.

4. Color it different.

Sometimes all fun takes is being distinctly different. Pile the family in the car and drive across the city or to the next town for church on Sunday morning. Ban computers and phones for a day like you do when you rent that place at the beach. Do a family run for ice cream sundaes. Plan a day outing as a family to a minor league ballpark and watch a doubleheader. Make it different and make it memorable.

5. Each family member designs one outing.

Huddle together as a family and brainstorm summer fun days.

Huddle together as a family and brainstorm summer fun days. Each family member gets to have his or her best idea (within budget constraints) as the featured family activity once during the summer.

6. Sponsor a kid (or two) at camp.

Talk to your YMCA or find another organization that provides resources to local kids and find out how to help a child who doesn’t have the opportunity to vacation with his or her family this summer. Make this a family project. Organize fundraisers so you all have ownership in another child’s joy. Then write postcards and send them to the kid you sponsored.

Sound off: What is your favorite summer memory from your childhood?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What have you been hoping to do this summer?”