The long awaited summer vacation is here!! We leave behind the days of waking up early to study for exams and those early rises to take the train twice a week for track practice at school (they have to be there one hour before school starts). They will no longer see their classmates every day at their desk and in the classroom.

Each one of my kids plans their summer differently: some will sign up for a language or sports course, others will work to help the family or to save for their small expenses the next year… each one in their own way, but we must help our kids to plan well how to spend the summer months, because 2.5 months is a long time! And it’s even more important for those of us that work that only really have one month of vacation, if that.

At home, together with my husband, because there were so many of us, we took out our paper and sharpened our pencil. We had to write down which summer camps and other activities each of the children wanted to go to. We focused on camps that would contribute to the personal growth of each child in another environment outside the family. Camps with values that help our children grow in service and learn how to give of themselves for the others. Or perhaps what kind of volunteering they wanted to do: there are so many opportunities all over the world. But it’s true, you don’t need to take a plane, I’m sure there are opportunities in your own city.

I leave you with some ideas that have come to me throughout my time practicing this:

  • Book Time – Carry their books in their suitcase depending on the age. At home we usually talk during dinner about the book they are reading at the time. In the living room there are many books on the table and everywhere… hopefully those that haven’t been bitten by the reading bug can soon be “infected.”
  • Sports – As you know, we are a family that is passionate about sports. From a very young age we have signed our children up for sports at school. When they were little they learned to swim and ride a bike in the summer. As they get older they improve in these and other areas and they become responsible for teaching the younger ones. Everything from soccer to paddle tennis. We love hiking together and exploring nature. There are times in the summer where we go walking for two hours a day. When we have done the Camino de Santiago, we walk from 5 to 6 hours in a single day!
  • Cooking – Not everyone is great at cooking, but in the summer they learn to cook the basics. We even do a “Master Chef” week in teams, an older sibling with a younger siblings, and I’m the lucky judge. I have to tell you that it is a real competition and that week we eat like Kings and Queens. They research in gastronomy magazines, decorate the dinner table… sometimes we can be surprised at what our children are capable of doing!
  • Time for Boredom – Without computer games or television. In summer you have to limit the time spent on the screens. If we let our kids think and be bored, oftentimes they use their creativity to develop new games and competitions. It’s so important to make them think!

  • Cleaning Time – Even though we are on vacation, someone has to do the cleaning. This responsibility is split between all of us. We are lucky to have so many in our house that in less than an hour we can get almost anything done. One week we have to sweep and clean the floors, the next week we have to dust the house, then every week we have to do the laundry and clean the bathrooms. We rarely, if ever, use the iron. The sheets are cleaned and put back on the beds and the clothes we simply fold them and put them back in the closet. We even have someone responsible for all the pool towels!
  • Time at the Table – Three times a day we have to set the table and do the dishes: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My children know that each of them is responsible for one day of the week. We usually start with the youngest, Rafa, on Mondays, then Lolita on Tuesdays, and so on. Sometimes people ask me what I do? Well, I organize everything and often help them because they are sometimes lazy…
  • Time to Talk – Yes, we must talk a lot with our children. Resume those conversations we left halfway through because we didn’t have time. I like to bring up new conversation topics at the table to teach them how to think through things. We often comment on newspaper stories, talk about a performance we saw or even about something our friends have told us about. I love those endless gatherings when night falls: the cool breeze, the sound of nature, the light from the moon and stars… We love to laugh together and share our stories about various adventures.
  • Time to Give of Yourself – Your family comes first. Sometimes that comes in the form of caring for the sick grandmother or the elderly aunt. In every town there are nursing homes, and we love to visit them and sing to them or just sit and speak to them. Giving our time is important. And as I said above, we can always look for volunteer opportunities in any city.
  • Time for Friends – Be careful when choosing friends. There are some that contribute and help you grow, but there are also others that can become a bad influence. We all know people who give off negative energy, to put it one way. Friends have to help each other, have fun, laugh together, play sports, share, and even cry together. They should be people that will be by your side when you need them. Whoever has a good friend has a treasure.
  • Time to Think – We have to stop and think about where we are going and how we want to direct our life and family. I pray for a while every day on this subject. I need it. We are body and spirit. Just like we take care of ourselves by having a good diet and playing sports, we have to take care of our spiritual side and the spiritual life of our children. From a very young age we must begin to teach them this.

Anyway, long live the holidays and love live the summer vacation!! If we plan it well, we can enjoy it more and get more out of it.

This post was originally published on on June 24th, 2019.

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