Enhanced – read by the author
Growing Relationships
Through Parenting & Education

by Connie Albers

Making Fun Family Memories

At a recent family dinner, my oldest began, “Mom, do you remember the time we had to pull you out of the gator-infested river after you flipped the canoe, got wedged between two tree branches, and couldn’t break free?”

I promptly replied, “Of course, I remember! One of the scariest days of my life.” No sooner had I uttered those words when the kids began retelling the event in vivid detail. By the time the last person chimed in, the story was a blur of fact and fiction. At first, I tried to correct their inaccuracies—at least from my point of view. I eventually gave up and just let them talk while shaking my head and laughing as they recounted their mom frantically trying to climb back into a sinking boat as our oars and belongings traveled down the river. My harrowing experience didn’t end once my feet were safely on the riverbank. Before I could dry off, swarms of hungry mosquitos found me. According to the kids, I went from being terrified of being in the water to swatting and dancing as I tried not to be carried off by bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

As I sat at the table laughing, it got me thinking about how summertime adventures shaped our family and created memories they continue to talk about—including the flipped canoe outing. And this is true for your family too.

Yet it can be easy to miss these stories in the making when we are actively raising children and homeschooling. Maybe it’s because much of our daily lives are filled with repetition, not moments of exploration. And while repetition is crucial, we need to make room for some adventures in our homeschool life. When we do, our children experience the joy and freedom that comes from being homeschooled.

As a veteran homeschool mom of twenty-one years and now a grandmother, I have the vantage point of seeing the bonding that happens when we take a break and have fun together. I have seen and heard all the comments and complaints about all the schoolwork, yardwork, and housework we had to do. And with five kids running around, there was a lot to get done.

I tried so hard to be a yes mom, a responsible mom, an organized mom, and a creative mom who planned all sorts of fun adventures. Can you relate? Are you there now? Do you feel like every adventure you plan turns into a disaster—sort of like my “fun” canoeing trip?

The truth is, summertime is an excellent time to lighten-up on the schoolwork and have some good ole fun.

Learning doesn’t stop over the summer, it changes. It’s a time for fun and laughter.

Kids eating lunch outside at a picnic

Where should you start? Let’s begin by figuring out how much time you can take off for the summer.

Some of you take the entire summer off like the local public school system does. Some of you only take a week off here and there because you need to get caught up or you don’t want your children to forget what they learned this school year. Some of you don’t take any time off because you plan to go to popular vacation spots when they are less crowded. There isn’t a right or wrong here. The question is: What is right for your family this year? Only focus on this summer! Next year might be different.

Whatever decision you make for this year is okay. It’s your family.

Next, I want to encourage you to look for adventures that fit your budget and needs! Now don’t let the thought of coming up with a host of new ideas keep you from trying. Ask your children what they’d like to do. If you have older children, you can tell them what the budget is and any ideas you have. Then add their ideas to the list. Don’t be surprised if some of the kids don’t want to do certain activities. You can get creative by suggesting each child will get one adventure.

Children don’t need elaborate parties, expensive vacations, or long getaways to have fun together. Remember that like you, children will remember stories, places, people, and outings as they get older, and homeschooling provides the perfect environment for creating these experiences.

Kids playing in the water with a water hose
Here is a short list to get you thinking:
  • Camping together or with other like-minded families
  • Taking day trips to the lake or beach or water park
  • Picnicing at a neighboring city that has a fun playground, splash park, museum, or farmers’ market
  • Attending an evening concert in a local, small town
  • Getting a summer membership at a community pool
  • Going on weekend getaways to their grandparents’ home
  • Enjoying an outdoor movie night
  • Riding horseback
  • Taking art lessons from a local artist
  • Having neighborhood playdates
  • Canoeing in a local river—But BE CAREFUL!

The list of possibilities is endless. Gather your family together and let the ideas flow freely. Hint: Strongly discourage making fun of each other’s ideas. Brainstorming needs to be a no-criticizing zone.

My family often brings up memorable moments from their childhood when we get together. In case you are wondering, they rarely talk about the times they read to each other or cooked together or did school together, though they did these every day. Not because they weren’t memorable, but they want to relive the field trips, summer vacations, and beach outings. It’s not that daily life wasn’t worthy of remembering. They just don’t think about those days as much more than a regular day in the Albers’ home. The memories of their school days aren’t the school days.

Which brings me more to the point: Take time to have fun this summer. Don’t worry if your plans don’t match your itinerary. Adventures can happen at home or in your community. Creating memorable moments doesn’t have to be expensive.

Whether you are taking a few days off or a three-month break, don’t overlook the memories your family can make this summer. You will soon look back and see how important they were to building a strong family.

Connie Albers

onnie Albers is a mother of five and veteran homeschool mom who has used her public relations background to help shape the homeschooling movement for twenty-seven years. She has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom and mompreneur with an outreach and ministry to parents through her speaking, writing, and various leadership roles. More recently Connie’s newest book, Parenting Beyond the Rules by NavPress, outlines positive approaches to parenting today’s teenagers. Her enthusiasm for helping others navigate social media led to her taking a post at Social Media Marketing World. Connie’s mission is to equip moms to live their lives with confidence and joy.

Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married thirty-five years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida, from the beginning.