3 Questions to Help Christian Moms Thrive This Summer

We can succeed at creating a positive environment for our children to grow and thrive during the summer break without sacrificing our own sense of well-being in the process. All that is required to accomplish this goal is a few simple strategies, a slight shift in expectation and a lot of prayer. Here are three thought-provoking questions to hep you prepare your heart for the summer months...
“Mommy, this was the best day ever,” my 8-year old daughter announced in between bites of frozen custard.

It was our very first day of summer break, and we were making the most of it.

After an impromptu playdate at the park with two of my best friends and their flock of 5, we headed off to Culvers to spend the free lunch coupons my children earned at their End of School Awards Ceremony.

As I sat there, watching my children giggle and eat their frozen desert, I recognized that creating a memorable summer break for my children was going to require some effort on my part.

I love our school year schedule. I get 40+ hours of peace and quiet every week while my children attend school, and I passionately pursue my career goals during the day while focusing on the needs of my family each evening.

During the school year, I get to enjoy the best of both worlds…motherhood and career.

The thought of 103 consecutive days with my children makes me feel overwhelmed and apprehensive.

Balancing work and family is never easy, and for those of us who work from home and care for young children, it sometimes feels impossible.

You see, I have to make a major shift in my work schedule and my productivity expectations throughout the summer break in order to create space to love and serve my children.

I have been preparing my heart for this transition for well over a month, yet now that it is here, I’m afraid that I will fail.

I have to believe that I am not the only mom struggling with this right now, so I wanted to take some time to share my personal strategies for transitioning well.

This piece will include a mixture of practical advice and freeing spiritual truths that have helped transform my fear into hope.

We can succeed at creating a positive environment for our children to grow and thrive during the summer break without sacrificing our own sense of well-being in the process. All that is required to accomplish this goal is a few simple strategies, a slight shift in expectation and a lot of prayer. Here are three thought-provoking questions to hep you prepare your heart for the summer months...

We can succeed at creating a positive environment for our children to grow and thrive during the summer break without sacrificing our own sense of well-being in the process.

All that is required to accomplish this goal is a few simple strategies, a slight shift in expectation and a lot of prayer.

Here are three thought-provoking questions to hep you prepare your heart for the summer months:

Who is your Master?

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24 NIV

When we allow our children or our work to become our master, we will quickly discover a constant need to choose one over the other.

This scenario plays out in one of two ways. We either spend our days

We either spend our days hushing our children and telling them “just one more minute” as we focus on achieving our work goals, or we set aside our work completely and allow ourselves to become a slave to our children’s wants and whims. Either way, it’s a losing proposition.

Either way, it’s a losing proposition.

The only way to properly establish a work/ family balance is to recognize that our only master is the Lord God and our true purpose is to serve Him alone.  When we focus on honoring God with our time and our decisions, He gives us peace and directs our steps.

Whenever I lose sight of this important truth, I find myself distracted and discouraged.

I encourage you to take some time to make certain your heart isn’t divided and establish a habit of serving God in all that you do.

What is your Plan?

“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV

I am a very structured person and place a high value on planning.

For the past five summers, a key element of my plan has been to do something fun with my kids 5 days a week while daddy is at work.

Each day has an event to look forward to, a set chunk of time that is focused on having fun and creating memories.

This strategy has served me well as it takes pressure off of the rest of the day.

This form of block scheduling has helped me set clear expectations and a solid routine for my children.

They give me the space that I need first thing in the morning to complete my work tasks for the day because they know that by 10:00am I am going to turn the computer off and do something fun with them.

We can succeed at creating a positive environment for our children to grow and thrive during the summer break without sacrificing our own sense of well-being in the process. All that is required to accomplish this goal is a few simple strategies, a slight shift in expectation and a lot of prayer. Here are three thought-provoking questions to hep you prepare your heart for the summer months...

They are excited when mom takes her afternoon rest because that is when they get to do their hour of computer time and they can’t wait for dad to come home because they know that our evenings are focused on family time.

I encourage you to prayerfully consider creating a summer routine that works for your family, just be sure to leave room for flexibility (it is summertime after all).

What is your Exit Strategy?

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. Proverbs 14:29 NIV

Endless days with our children in tow is bound to test a mother’s patience.

I believe that focusing our attention on serving God and having a routine in place will alleviate some of the pressure, but the truth of the matter is that we all need an exit strategy.

I am used to having 40 hours a week of peace and quiet, and during the summertime, that number dwindles to almost nothing.

That is why it is crucial for me to create an exit strategy for myself a few times a week.

We are blessed to live close to family and I am not above asking for help, especially during the summer.

Next time your patience is dwindling and your temper is rising, recognize that you are a limited resource and it’s time to do what you can to refresh and restore your soul.

We can succeed at creating a positive environment for our children to grow and thrive during the summer break without sacrificing our own sense of well-being in the process. All that is required to accomplish this goal is a few simple strategies, a slight shift in expectation and a lot of prayer. Christian Mom | Summer Mom Tips | Summertime | Parenting Advice

I am so excited to make memories with my kids this summer.

I don’t mind backing off on my work schedule during the warmer months of the year because I know that I will be rested and refreshed to dive back in come fall.

That knowledge doesn’t make the transition any easier.

I have to be strategic and structured as I move from my winter routine to the lazy days of summer break.

I recognize that I will not always be successful at being the kind of mom my kids desire, but so long as I am focused on serving my True Master, I will be able to navigate the highs and lows this season holds.

And you will too!

Four days down, ninety-nine to go.

What is your best advice for moms who are preparing their hearts for a smooth transition to summer break?  I’d love to chat about it in the comments.

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This article has been shared at many of my favorite linkups.

This article was originally published on May 23, 2016. Updated May 29, 2017.

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

  Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life. Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Read Sarah's full Bio Here.

62 thoughts on “3 Questions to Help Christian Moms Thrive This Summer

  1. Thank you for your post today …it reminded me that I need to plan ahead too. I often have to wait until last minute to find out what availability there is for carers who give me respite from my special needs daughter (so that I can spend time with my other children making memories). I often dread holidays because it is such a mammoth task. So far I have book two weeks away (two separate breaks… one with disabled daughter and carers and one respite break for me hubby and other kids). I have to get my skates on to organize some fun for the other weeks now…
    We usually only get 6 weeks for summer in England but this year It’s 8 because my kids are having a new school built)
    I hope you make many special memories this summer xx (your neighbor today on moments of Hope)

    1. Hi Jade! Parenting a special needs child is a tremendous task, and I think it is fantastic that you have planned for some help/breaks this summer. It sounds to me like you are well on your way to preparing your heart and your schedule for the break. I always have to remind myself that kids aren’t complicated. It is often the simplest things I plan for them that leave their little love tanks feeling full..a trip to the park, a picnic in the backyard, running through the sprinkler with them. All they really want is our time and our attention. Blessings to you and yours this summer.

  2. there is so much time in a day and while there are so many things that need to be done we all deserve a break. I am well aware that lessons must be learned but the lessons of life and memories must be created as well. Thanks for the post and offering us all something to think about.

  3. As a homeschooling mom, I plan 5 days a week all year long, so summer is a break for all of us! 🙂 I actually place a high value on kids being allowed to feel “bored” without being allowed to escape to screen time. Yes, there is whining and occasional tears, but what comes out of that struggle is totally worth it! They play games, go outside, read, draw, and get creative. They make costumes and art projects. They bake something for dessert. With six kids ranging in ages from 13 to 2, I place a high value on letting them figure out some things on their own! It’s good for them AND good for me! 😊

    1. I can see how the challenges of transitioning a homeschooling family to summertime would be different. Less structure would be important so the kids and parents can enjoy the break together. I hear you about allowing children to become bored. We spend hours out in the garden each evening while the kids lose interest after about 30 minutes. But they are expected to stay outside and entertain themselves while we work and it is so fun to see what they come up with. Of course, their default passtime is playing with our 30 free range chickens. The first day of break, we worked together to make a list of 34 activities that the kids can do on their own without help from a parent. I plan on sending them to review the list when I hear “I’m Bored” this summer. Blessings to you, Susan. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us.

  4. This is great! It’s not summer here, Australia, but my 2 year olds family daycare just suddenly had to shut down and I’m having a baby and trying to grow the blog, so now I have no set aside time, and I think I should just wait for a few weeks and let things rest.

  5. Sarah- such GOOD GOOD stuff here! And the wisdom?! This is something that ALL moms can relate too…and you’re so right, focusing on God and making sure HE is the master is really the “fix-all.” Yes, tempers will rise and anxiety will not hide, but when HE is our master and HE is the focus, handling it all can be smooth! Thank you for the reminder today!

    1. Shannon, your comments always infuse me with life and embolden me to carry on. Thank you, sweet sister, for cheering me on and supporting me on this journey. Be careful with your beautiful and encouraging words, they are inviting and slightly addicting 😉 Just sayin’….

  6. :). I’m on the opposite end of the situation–I teach full time and our own children have emptied the nest. Because of my job, I always had the summers with our girls (as well as vacations), and we managed to have adventures every summer (in fact, it was hard for me when they grew up and got summer jobs because then we couldn’t have adventures!). My problem now is staying productive in my writing during the summer months.

    1. It’s like you reside in the southern hemisphere and I’m in the northern, we are flip-flopped and upside down. I’m sure I will miss my crazy summers with young children someday, but I hope to have a bucket full of memories just like you. Summertime is so vivid and alive, I will say a prayer that all the beauty surrounding you will inspire you to dig deep in your soul and write words to inspire and empower others.

  7. Great post. I found the “exit strategy” tip very helpful. I want to focus more on a daily special activity this summer though too. 😉

    1. Start small, Mary. I’ve been doing it for so long now, it’s part of my summer survival strategy, but at the beginning I had to take it slow and steady. Even a picnic in the backyard or a stop at the local park counts. I would say that once or twice a week we do something a bit more “Mom Intensive” like fishing or hiking. If I tried to do that every day, I’d eventually find myself on strike and then where would we be?

  8. Hey Sarah!

    If you think 103 straight days of having the kiddo’s all day long is a challenge, why don’t you drink the homeschooling Kool aid and try almost 365 days?! I really (mostly) enjoy homeschooling my kids, but I sometimes wish that I had the hours of the school day to work on my own endeavors. My best advice for moms looking to transition from part time kids to all day kids is to run for the hills or hide under the bed!

    Enjoy your summer!

    1. Can I politely decline that drink you offer, dear friend? I love my homeschooling mamas to death, but you be crazy! Ok, maybe not crazy, but called and equipped for the task of schooling your children. If the Lord ever chooses to call and equip me for that path, I would humbly submit. No, I would run for the hills and hide under the bed at the same time. LOL. Thanks for bringing your humor and encouragement to my blog. Hugs to you!

  9. Sarah, this is beautiful. Such a needed reminder and I love your practical ideas of doing something fun every day but still making time for work in the morning and rest in the afternoon!

    1. Oh, Micah! Planning fun for each day is my summer kool-aid. Like, if I weren’t to do that, I would die of thirst in the desert…or something like that. It keeps me sane! I always try to keep it simple, and my kids are ready to rest and play on their own when we are done. Thanks for swinging by, praying you and yours have a beautiful summer break.

  10. I love all this whole post though I don’t have any school age kids anymore nor am I a stay at home mom (can you do that even if your kid is 20??) the practical advice about planning and especially remembering who your master is was still applicable to my family situation. You have a lovely site! God bless you Sarah!♥

    1. Heather, I’m so glad you stopped by. It’s nice to know that the truth of this post reaches beyond my particular stage of family life. I agree with you that the “Who is Your Master” question is profound and far-reaching, almost has me thinking it is worthy of its own post. Blessings to you!

    1. Lyli,

      I read your comment yesterday and it has been swimming in the recesses of my mind ever sense. I am sorry if my piece came across as complaining, but I am so grateful you took the time to share your heart with me either way.

      I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond to your comment until I read these words from Suzie Eller this morning:

      “How many times do we ask — beg — God for something, and He graciously gives it to us — only to take it for granted, or grumble because this gift came with responsibility?

      Lord, at one time I considered it a treasure. It’s still a privilege, Father. Let this be worship instead of work.”

      The best gifts in this life come with a great deal of responsibility. As we each navigate our own personal journey, it is important that we never forget to cherish and honor what the Lord has given us.

      Obviously, this piece was written with a weary mom soul in mind, but I’m so appreciative that you stopped by and added your unique perspective to the conversation.

      1. Your beautiful words here did NOT come across as complaining. I thought they were wise and very insightful. You’ve got your priorities straight, but you’ve got needs too, mama. Hope this summer breathes new life into every space of your heart.

        Don’t you love that Suzie Eller? She is a gift. 🙂

  11. I love the idea of an exit strategy, Sarah! Our schedule here is a modified year-round one. For the most part, it works out beautifully because long summers are rough when it is 115 degrees! lol! We are all confined to the pool or indoor activities. So, we get 7 weeks in the summer and spread the remaining weeks throughout the school year. My biggest struggle is never feeling quite settled into any routine! It seems as soon as I get a few weeks of a regular work schedule, then I change because the kids are home for a couple of weeks again. So we change again … and on goes that cycle!
    However, I think no matter our particular situation, we all struggle to find the balance. It’s tough stuff and you give beautiful hope here for the Mama who is feeling overwhelmed! Thank you so much for sharing these precious words with us at Moments of Hope! You always breathe such life, love, joy, and hope into all your words!!!

    1. Lori, I’ve never heard of a modified year-round schedule, but it sounds brilliant! I can see how it would affect your “mom rhythm” though. My biggest struggle is when kids have odd breaks from school, it sets me off kilter! I can do summer well because I prepare for it and I have time to settle in. You are right about the struggle to find balance….ALWAYS a struggle! Honest and hopeful words are my favorite gift to give, and I am grateful for your support and encouragement.

  12. A working mom’s perspective on summer vacation is always interesting to me. As a homeschooling mom, I tend to find I have more free time in the summer – just the opposite from you. Although our situations vary, I think it’s great that we are both prioritizing our children while letting God be our master. Blessings to you and thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup

    1. And here I am, forever fascinated by the homeschooling mom’s perspective on…well….life in general. We all do this mothering thing a big different, but you are so right, prioritizing our children and allowing God to be our master is a common thread I hope we all share.

  13. Sarah, I needed this when my children were still in school. Anticipating and preparing can make a huge difference in staying positive and making happy memories. Having a plan for getting a break when needed is excellent advice. Lots of wisdom here, Sarah. Looking for to helping lots of moms by sharing it. Blessings to you!

  14. What a helpful and practical post for moms! Love this one, Sarah!

    Wish I’d had it about 10 years ago when my kids were younger. There are still moments when we have to find that balance with our kids and their needs. Good planning and boundaries are always necessary.

    I hear from my older friends that this only continues. As your kids start to have kids, you have to have a plan then as well!

    Love the way you share with honesty, practicality, and encouragement!

  15. Sarah, you’re a planner after my own heart. Our summer break is still a month away but I’ve been known to have our own version ‘summer camp’ with several activities scheduled and sprinkled throughout the week. I get the kids involved in making a summer bucket list and have Friday field trips (beach, hike, etc.) with the cousins. It’s always loads of fun but it comes at a price, just as you said. I love your point about having an exit strategy because there always comes a time when I just long for a moment or two of adult time. Lol

  16. I so enjoyed this post. In fact, I found myself reading through all the comments to see what everyone else had to say! The truth is, I’m pretty burned out right now. I’ve been blogging 10 plus hours a week for a year on top of homeschooling, worship leading, working in accounting for my husband’s business, being in charge of homeschool field trips, etc, etc. Right now, I’m plain tired. Tired of getting up early and working when the kids go to bed. I’m looking forward to summer break, but I’m actually not sure what it’ll look like. You encouraged me that I may just need to figure that out. In the past, I have worked on my housework/blogging until 10/10:30 in the summer and then spent some time with my children. They have known what to expect and are (mostly) pretty good at respecting it. This summer, though, I really want to get some painting and crafty endeavors and even getting back into running. I’m not sure how to accomplish the things I want or even how to prioritize what matters. (Obviously, I can’t do everything) Praying for the Lord to give me instruction and wisdom just like King Solomon asked for.

    1. Rosanna, it sure does sound like your plate’s been full. I’m taking my first ever blogging break this summer. It’s difficult to make the decision to step back and let my blog sit for a while, but I plan to keep in touch with my readers through my weekly SOULfood e-mails and I do need to catch up on rest. As my kids get older, I find they are more interested in participating in whatever I am doing. Maybe you will find the same. Wishing you a restful summer!

    1. Block scheduling is a life-saver, I agree! I don’t remember my mom scheduling us at all during the summer, we were just sort of on our own. My kids truly do respond well to loose scheduling and benefit from knowing what to expect from the day.

  17. I love this! >> “I have to make a major shift in my work schedule and my productivity expectations throughout the summer break in order to create space to love and serve my children.” YES! Thank you for continually being a champion for loving well and resting well. It is part of what allowed me to give myself permission to take a step back.

    I don’t have children, but I have a husband, a dog and a health disorder that requires a lot of my time.

    Cheers to making space for the things that truly matter. Love you, sister.

    1. I’m so proud of you, Lauren. God is going to honor your decision, I have not doubt. I trust He will continue to surprise you as you follow after Him and seek His best for your life.

  18. I’m visiting from Testimony Tuesday. I didn’t work from home, but I did always have a transition period from having a lot of quiet time during the school year to having all the kids home in the summer. These are all great ideas. Keeping the Master first is the main one, but having a schedule helps the kids to know what to expect. I am an introvert who feels fairly depleted without some alone time here and there, and I learned that instead of being frustrated with not knowing how and when I was going to get it, I just needed to trust the God who made me to provide what He knew I needed.

    1. Oh, how I miss the quiet. I’m learning to clear my schedule of things that don’t tolerate interruption (aka…writing) and focus on other things this summer (aka…research/Bible study). I’ve learned that I simply have to do everything different in the summer and let some things go in order to create a positive environment for my kiddos. I agree, keeping God first is an absolute must!

    1. Oh, Bobi! I hear you. Ugh…if my kids would just stop fighting we would be doing pretty good around here. Saying a prayer over your transitioning household right now.

  19. I love how real you are here. It’s easy in this Pinterest perfect world to pretend we are all sunshine and rainbows about summer with perfect bucket lists and plans and every moment in the sun. But that’s not real life. Grateful for your tips, practical and spiritual, that help us enjoy summer with our kids more!

    1. You are right, from where I’m sitting…life is good, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows! I think managing our expectations (and our childrens’ expectations) is key. Happy to know the tools and principles that have helped me are also helpful to you.

  20. Hi Sarah. You share great tips here. I am a planner too. Since my children are older, I have asked them to do their own thing until 10:30 a.m. That gives me about five uninterrupted hours to work at home in the morning, plus they get to sleep in! We have been interacting more in the afternoons and evenings. So far, this schedule is working well. I agree–planning is the key to success.

  21. Sarah, my children are all adults now. I remember being where you are and facing the summer with a hint of anxiety. We had no money so the library, long walks in the forest, raising a garden and games in the yard filled our days. I love that you scheduled in rest and respite. I don’t think I did well with that needed ingredient.

    1. I need the rest, so my kids have learned to accept the afternoon break. Since I’ve decided to take time to prepare my heart, I’ve found this transition to be much easier than in the past. It’s all about our focus, and creating a positive environment for everyone.

  22. I really love summer and am so glad in the break from the other nine months of the year. But even good things come with adjustments. I hope y’all have a great summer together. Thanks for linking up at #PorchStories

  23. Sarah- I love your tips! I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and my kids have 1 more day of school. I have a routine now and it’s about to be flipped. I think the block schedule idea with a fun element each day is a great idea!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Visiting from #DancewithJesus

    1. Oh, the first week or two are always the most difficult! Everyone is still tuckered out from the end of school, and it takes time to settle into a new routine. You’ve got this Mama.

  24. Such great insight for moms. I’m a “work-outside-the-home” mom, so it’s hard for me to translate this post for myself, as I need to squeeze everything into my evenings. But my children are older (adults and teens) and somedays I hardly see them as they are off with friends, church group, etc.

    1. I have some dear friends who work outside the home. I think summer just has a different rhythm and expectation to it. So it’s important we approach it proactively and do our best to care for ourselves and love our family well. Thanks for swinging by.

  25. Sara, though my two kids are no longer “kids”, I remember what it was like trying to plan work and family time in the summers, never easy…but ever so important. Your words are wise and though my kids are older, setting aside family time is still very important to us. Thank you for a great post.

    1. I hope I never cease to plan and pray over how we organize our family time. Even when kids are grown and gone, it’s important to maintain the family unit. I’m sort of dreading the teen years as I think they are some of the most challenging years to remain connected to your children.

    1. It’s so easy to serve other masters (especially the ones that come in small, demanding packages). Keeping our focus on the One who created us helps us create a positive environment for our families. No other way!

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