Focus on the Family Broadcast

Fun Ideas to Make Your Summer Memorable

Fun Ideas to Make Your Summer Memorable

Author Kathi Lipp offers suggestions to moms for planning summer activities the whole family will enjoy.
Original Air Date: May 27, 2015



Jim Daly: Kathi, have you ever lost your sanity during summer vacation?

Kathi Lipp: (Laughing) Uh … sanity, summer vacation, the two words do not go together. Yes (Laughter)

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, if you’ve struggled as a mom or a dad knowing just how to deal with that summer vacation time without the structure and the routine that the school year affords, uh … then you’ll appreciate today’s “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and I cannot believe, Jim. It’s summertime again.

Jim: I love it; I love it; I love it. You know, here we have such a long winter in Colorado. When summer rolls around, I’m ready.

John: In fact—

Jim: And …

John: –we may not be over—

Jim: It’s true. (Laughing)

John: –even at this point in time. (Laughter)

Jim: Yeah, you never know when it’s gonna snow in Colorado. But you know, it’s camping, it’s getting everything ready, pullin’ the camper, the fifth-wheel out. And everybody knows those silly stories, so I’m sure something’s gonna break and I’ll be the one breaking it.

Jim: And uh … but we love the summer. It’s just so much fun. I try not to travel during this time out of town. I mean, I’m here at the office.

John: You do a lot of family vacations—

Jim: We do.

John: –during the summer.

Jim: Yeah, we save it up for summer, because it’s just a great time for the kids. And we want to talk about different strategies to make summer … uh … a better experience. You know, when you think about it, for those of us who have kids in the home particularly, um, you only got so many summers with those kids. I mean, if you think about it, from the time they’re born, maybe 18 or 19. And well, for some of you, it may be 25 or 30, but (Laughter) that’s a whole ‘nother discussion. But you know, you really … you do need to be strategic in what you want to do with that time and we’re gonna talk about that today.


John: Yeah, we have some great practical insights from a woman who suggests that summer vacation and sanity actually can go together, despite what Kathi Lipp said at the beginning there. Kathi Lipp is an author, a very popular speaker. She hosts a podcast and she has an e-book called Surviving Summer Vacation: Plans and Prayers for a Mom’s Sanity.

Jim: Hey, Kathi, let me say welcome back to Focus.

Kathi: Thank so much for having me, guys.

Jim: Okay, let’s just start right there. I mean, how can sanity and plans for the summer all go together?

Kathi: Well, I think that we’re … we’re so excited for summer, because it’s finally a break, especially if you have school-age kids. The thought of no home … well, I know you even get homework during the summer sometimes, but it’s a different pace. It’s a different thing.

But then you get into the first couple weeks and you’re look … maybe missing some of that structure you had. (Laughter) And you know, the … the two worst words a mom can hear, “I’m bored,” and all of that starts to come into play. And so, I really do believe you have to go into summer with a plan, like you go into the school year.

Jim: Well, and that is part of your e-book. You talk about how a … a mom needs to think about being a teacher—

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: –and kind of approaching it with a le … a lesson plan. Now some mom’s going, oh, no! ‘Cause for her it’s a break, as well, from the routine of school year and all that. How do you gear up to become a teacher for your child during the summer?

Kathi: Well, and it’s not … I’m not saying install a blackboard and stand in front of your kids and teach history lessons. But what I’m saying is, you know, we are so interested in what our kids are learning and what they’re achieving through the school year. We don’t want to lose that through the summer, because …

Jim: The kids do.

Kathi: Yeah, I know. (Laughter) The kids do, but we also have an opportunity to make the learning through the summer a little bit more fun, a little bit more something that can be tailored to each kid’s individual taste, something that they could really dive into.

And so, saying … approaching it as a teacher, when I say that, I mean, go in with a plan. A teacher would never stand up in front of their classroom and say, “Hey, let’s wing it today and figure it out.” Chaos would rule.

And so, during the summer I’m saying, just go in with a plan, even if it’s a really loose plan. And it really changes for each family. I had one kid who did not do well without structure. Left to his own devices, uh … it would’ve been chaos. And so, to know that there were some activities planned was actually a benefit to me.

And I wrote so much of this book because I want moms to experience some sanity. I don’t want you to get to July 4th and think, “When will these kids be back in school?” (Laughter)

Jim: Right, which a—

Kathi: I want you …

Jim: –lot of moms—

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: –you know, they get there.

Kathi: I … I want you to enjoy your kids. I want this to be a blessing, ’cause like you said, there are about 18 summers. And let’s be honest. As your kids get older, they’re spending less and less of that summer with you. So, really making those summers that you guys have together really count.

Jim: Well, that’s true. By the time they’re 16, they got the keys to the car.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: And so, that’s different. You in fact, call it a “summer manifesto,” (Laughter) which I … I always liked that word, “manifesto.”

John: It sounds so important.

Jim: It does (Laughter), doesn’t it?

Kathi: Yeah, it really does.

Jim: So, what does a summer manifesto look like for Kathi Lipp?

Kathi: Well, I’ve got a few different things. One of ’em is, I will not summer alone. That’s my very first thing. And what I mean by that is, I am going to get together with other moms. I’m gonna say, let’s plan on this together. ‘Cause when you’re trying to pull off this dog and pony show every week or every day, let’s just be clear, every day, it’s a little bit overwhelming and exhausting.

But one of the things that I learned through a time when I was homeschooling my kids, is different moms have different skill sets. I was not the arts and crafts mom. That was not … I … I think that skips generations and it definitely skipped my generation. But my daughter loves arts and crafts.

You know, I had a friend, Becky, whose daughter was all into reading. That wasn’t what Becky was into. So, I hosted the book club—

Jim: Oh, okay.

Kathi: –for all these preteen girls. And so, I would read the book. We would go to Starbucks. We’d sit around and discuss what we were talking about and what we were reading. And that was so much fun for me.

Becky would set up the arts and crafts camp and have that at her house, have all the mess at her house, let’s just be clear, a total bonus for me. And so, get together with other moms. Plan and have your kids involved with different great adults.

Jim: Now that … that is good and keep rollin’ with that manifesto, ’cause I think the other point that you’re making there is, I will plan activities that will not cause me to slip into a mind-numbing coma.

Kathi: Absolutely. I think summer, if you are able to spend a portion of the summer home with your kids and I understand, we have working moms. We have stay-at-home moms. We have moms who are working from home. We have every variation. But when you’re doing stuff with your kids, I see so many moms who are setting up for an hour, so that their kids can do a 15-minute activity. Or they’re … they’re doing things that the mom’s not interested in. That’s why I was saying, you know, I loved hosting a book club. I loved doing this with these little girls. That’s something that filled me up. So, think about what you really enjoy, too, and what you can do with that.

And then a couple other things from the manifesto. I will remember that work is good. This may be vacation, but that doesn’t mean my kids are on vacation.

Jim: Okay, now this is a tough one, because—

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: –I think kids, I know my kids—

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: –they think a vacation is vacation.

John: Right—

Jim: They don’t think—

John: –check-out, check-out time.

Jim: –yeah.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: They think, you know, now we get a little more time allotted to us to do video games.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: We get a little more time to play—

Kathi: And I—

Jim: –and they struggle.

Kathi: –yeah, I—

Jim: They struggle.

Kathi: –I agree with some of that. You know, there is a little bit looser schedule. But that doesn’t mean that chores don’t need to be done. That doesn’t mean that we don’t read and don’t continue learning throughout the summer.

Jim: Did you hear that, Trent and Troy? (Laughter) Say … say that one more time; go ahead. Say that–

Kathi: You have—

Jim: –one more time.

Kathi: –to keep learning.

Jim: Okay, good.

Kathi: And we want, but we can do it in a fun way. If your kids are into reading, then this is the time where they get to linger with a good book. If your kids are more focused outdoors, well then, they can go and play and they can have those activities that they may not have time for when all of the school and all that work is going on. So, you get to expand, but that doesn’t mean you get to “veg” in front of the TV for 12 hours a day. It means that you’re gonna learn in new and fun ways.

John: Well, how do you know, Kathi … um … just how much free time and how much schedule to have? How do you come to some balance on that?

Kathi: I, it differed for both of my kids, I’ll be honest with you. I have, like I said, one does well with structure. One is very good without structure. My daughter, she would fill up her day with all these great activities that she wanted to do. And she was doing art; she was doing reading. And my son was like, okay, when’s my program on? You know, that’s … that’s the difference in their personalities.

And so, Kimberly I was able to say, okay, let’s talk about what you’re gonna be doing today. And so, maybe we were going out to a park or something like that and she could fill in the rest. With Justin, he needed a little more down time, I’ll be honest with you. That was something that he really craved. And so, I said, but your choices are, there’s a certain amount of time for video games. There’s a certain amount of time for TV each week, but there’s a lot of time for reading and he’s a reader. So, find the thing, the enriching thing your kid loves to do and focus on that.

We had twice a week trips to the library so that they could load up on the books that they loved and it didn’t cost us a dime, except for when we turned ’em in late. But, um … not that any mom has ever gone through that. But I had to stop feeling pressure from other moms about what they were doing with their kids.

You know, one of the points of the manifesto is, I am not going to pick projects for my kids based on how the Pinterest pictures are going to turn out.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

Kathi: You … it’s so important, because first of all, my Pinterest pictures would be Pinterest fails every single time. But those were not a lot of the activities that really filled my kids up. I had to figure out what was the rhythm of our family? And what were the goals for the end of the summer?

For the end of the summer, if my son … we could have him have a goal of reading 100 books. He could do that. That’s what filled him up. And so, that was a great goal for … that doesn’t work for every family, so you gotta figure out what’s gonna work for yours.

Jim: Do you make a chart? Again, I … in the practical senses—

Kathi: Uh-hm.

Jim: –I know my boys crave that play time.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: I mean, that’s what they really look forward to in summer. We do, do a lot of camping—

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: –so we get that worked in. So, they get a lot of wilderness experience that way—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –a lot of hiking. But um … for one of my sons, reading is a … you know, it’s not something he enjoys. The other one really enjoys it. And so, like you, it’d just be, what book are you reading now–

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –not will you read a book?

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: But for the one who struggles in that regard how do you really make that happen?

Kathi: So, I think there are a couple of different ways. One, let the child who loves to read, read most of the books. That’s okay. But we still want to develop that reading muscle in our kids, who maybe that isn’t such a joy for. So, I think spending the time finding books on subjects he loves. You know, if he’s a sports guy, then you’re gonna find those books that talk about the sport that he loves.

If he’s into hiking, you know, finding those outdoor adventure kind of books. And also I don’t discount audio books. I think audio books are really, really important. That’s my favorite way to digest a lot of books.

And my kids will tell you, some of the books that made the biggest impact in their lives were the ones we listened to on the way to go camping–

Jim: That’s what—

Kathi: –or on—

Jim: –we do.

Kathi: –the way to grandma’s house.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: We have a list of books that we just love and we still talk about to this day, that we listened to on the way to the activity.

Jim: You talk about something in your e-book that caught my attention. That’s space boxing.

Kathi: Oh, yeah.

Jim: (Chuckling) Now my boys would say, that’s sound fun. (Laughter)

Kathi: Yeah, puffy boxing gloves. Sowhat I mean by space boxing is this. When we’re talking about chores and cleaning up and things like that, if you tell a child to go clean their room, nine times out of 10, they’re going to sit in the middle of their room and be totally overwhelmed. It’s …

Jim: Yeah, play.

Kathi: Yeah, yeah, because what … to clean your room, that’s kind of an abstract concept for a lot of kids, unless they’ve got that personality where they really like order and structure. And so, what I’ll say … space boxing is, I just want you to work on your bookshelf. Right now I want you to pull out all the library books and let’s go put ’em in the library book bag downstairs. And giving them specifics.

Or I want you to find five books that you don’t read anymore and we’re gonna donate that to our church library, something like that. So, you’re giving them a very specific place and time to clean out, so they don’t get overwhelmed by everything.

Jim: That is good advice. I mean, I … I hadn’t thought about it that way. I think what … what can happen (Chuckling) for us is, “Clean your room.”

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: And it doesn’t get done and we’re, “Clean your room.”

Kathi: Right.

Jim: And then it just escalates into, “How come you haven’t cleaned your room yet?”

Kathi: Yeah and “You’re never leaving this room until it’s clean,” yeah.

Jim: It … it … right (Laughing).

Kathi: And … and you know what? This is a great concept for adults, too. (Laughter) Do you get—

Jim: Ouch!

Kathi: –overwhelmed. I’m sorry … well, for me. I’ll just speak for me, nobody else.

Jim: Are … have you and Jean been talking?

Kathi: No, what are you (Laughter) saying, Jim? But what I will say is, that if you get overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, setting a timer and saying, okay, for the next 15 minutes, I’m gonna work on the counters in my kitchen. It’s the same concept that applies to kids, but the summertime is a great time to develop these habits and saying, okay, we’re gonna get this portion of the room done in the next 15 minutes. And so, when you get to the school year where you only have weekends and sometimes afternoons to get those things done, you’ve trained a good habit.

John: Well, that’s some good perspective about the importance of modeling and doing things with your child. We’re talking to Kathi Lipp on “Focus on the Family.” Her e-book is Surviving Summer Vacation: Plans and Prayers for a Mom’s Sanity. And you can find out details about that or a CD or download of our conversation today, maybe just for a little shot in the arm boost as you deal with summer vacation here. Our website is Our phone number is 800-232-6459.

Jim: You know, Kathi, typically and we’ve talked a bit about this in terms of the book assignments or something like that, our school, which happens to be a … a public school—it’s a charter school—but they do have reading assignments through the summer—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –to prepare them for the next grade.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: And it can be about three books typically–

Kathi: Okay.

Jim: –through the summer. And again (Laughing), what happens for us is, we’ve been campin’ a lot.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: We’ve been runnin’ around a lot and they usually start school about mid-August.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: So, right at the end of July, we start going, “Oh, no!, the books!”

Kathi: Oh, the … yeah. (Laughter) Exactly.

Jim: And they go, “Oh, yeah, we forgot. We gotta read those.” And so, again one of ’em will be already ahead of schedule and “Oh, I—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –already read the three books, mom and dad.” And … and our other son’ll be, “Do I really, reallygotta do that?” And it can be anything. It could be freshening up their math skills. It could be whatever they need—

Kathi: Sure.

Jim: –to go into school with, you know, a bit of work under their belt. What do you recommend in that regard, not to overwhelm them and start school two weeks before they start school?

Kathi: Right.

Jim: But how can you prepare your child to get mentally ready for the big game?

Kathi: Well, I think that it’s important at the beginning of summer to really have a break. If your child enjoys reading, that’s great. If your child hates reading, give yourself and your child and let’s be clear, it’s more yourself, a break. You need … I understand. There’s a lot of stress and drama around that for some people.

But so many of the moms I know, if they had not made the choice to be stay-at-home, full-time moms, they would be running Fortune 500 companies. I know some really amazing moms. And we have to take that planning brain that we have and apply it to our summers.

So, it may seem a little weird to say, “Hey, let’s have an excel spreadsheet of all the things we have to get accomplished this summer.”

Jim: I just lit up. I like that. (Laughter)

Kathi: But we don’t want to pack it all into the last week of August, ’cause that’s overwhelming. So, if we can do a little bit at a time and say, “Hey, guys, if we can get this done, then we can enjoy the read of our day. We can do some other things that are maybe a little less structured. But let’s get this out from underneath us, so that we can enjoy the rest of our day.”

Or you know, maybe it’s done each evening, so you can have the next day to yourself. But planning that out over the summer, so that it’s not all packed in to the last week, where really, the person who’s gonna take the brunt of that is mom.

Jim: We touched on this and it’s the “I’m bored”—

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: –statement, which can pop up at any time during the summer. And I would only say, my observation, Jean has done a great job at this, and I want to talk about how you can’t be parenting alone.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: We’ll get to that in a second.

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: We all, both have to be involved. But when a child says that, I think one of the undercurrents why that is occurring is, that they haven’t been taught how to be resourceful—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –how to have imagination, how to create a … a meaningful couple of hours out of nothing. And parents, we want to come in. We want to rescue them.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: Okay, we gotta keep them entertained, because if they’re not entertained, they’re bored.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: And blah, blah, blah. The point is, let ’em struggle a little.

Kathi: I …

Jim: It’s actually healthy.

Kathi: You are speaking my heart language, because our kids are so scheduled. Every moment of their day from the time they start school in September, till the time they’re out in May or June, everything is decided for them. And so, when our kids have no white space in their lives, no margin and you know, they’re only bored for a little while. Kids will not stay bored forever, because they will find things to do if given the opportunity and the space. They will build something. They will cook something. They will read something. They will perform something. They will find something to do.

But there is nothing worse in the world than a jaded 8-year-old (Laughter), who … who cannot make it through a day without some kind of somebody entertaining them. And so, we need to give our kids … now I understand that there are kids who have different sensory issues. I understand all of that.

But for your average kid, they need to have a little bit of down time, a little bit of quiet, so that they can discover what brings them joy, so they can discover the activities that make them want to get up in the morning and go create and go be. And we need to give ’em that space to do it.

Jim: I envision this little prince sitting in a throne, saying, “I shall now be entertained.”

Kathi: Yeah, ab …

Jim: “Bring me the entertainment.”

Kathi: Absolutely (Laughter) and we’ve got a generation of adults now who have to be entertained all the time. You know, this happened to me recently. I was walking my dog and I always put my iPod in and listen to a book on tape. And I’d forgotten to charge it the night before. And I honestly thought to myself, “Well, I can’t walk the dog unless I have my iPod.” (Laughter) Well–

Jim: ‘Cause your legs–

Kathi: –the dog—

Jim: –don’t work.

Kathi: –would disagree, you know. (Laughter) But I … you know, it’s like, that told me I haven’t had enough white space.

Jim: Yeah.

Kathi: I haven’t had enough time to just think and imagine and pray and be.

Jim: And … and I think to add to it, the age-appropriateness of that.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: You’ve gotta be teaching your 6-, 7-, 8-year-old—

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: –what to do with down time—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –things that they enjoy—

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: –so that when they’re 14, 15, 16, when it hits, they’re not grumpy and upset about it.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: And then again, it … thankfully, our boys have terrific imaginations and they’re able to go out and you know, find tree limbs and do something with them.

Kathi: That’s awesome.

Jim: And hopefully, they’ve … they’re whittling them. They don’t cut each other.

Kathi: I dare say—

John: Not burning–

Kathi: –are they—

John: –them.

Kathi: –beating each other with them?

Jim: Which is whole ‘nother thing I want to touch on.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: And I don’t know that it was in the book per se—

Kathi: Okay.

Jim: –but moms particularly, when you look at summer and I’m gonna relate to boys, but I’m sure this is true with daughters, as well, we can be in hyper safety mode during summer.

Kathi: Ah.

Jim: You know, “Uh-oh!”

Kathi: Yeah.

Jim: And vigilant and—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –always watching and—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –if the boys are outside or your kids are outside, you’re always worried about ’em. How can a mom take a deep breath and let ’em climb a tree they might, in fact, even fall out of. You don’t want that to happen, but it is life.

Kathi: Okay, so this is the most horrifying statement I think I have ever made to a friend, so I’m just going to bare my soul here. She was absolutely terrified. On a little bit different note, her daughter was driving for the first time. (Laughter) And she says, “I’m so scared. I’m so scared that she’s gonna get into an accident. I’m so terrified.”

And I said, “Can I just tell you, each of my kids within the first six months of driving, got into a fender bender.” And she was horrified. I said, “But you know what? Everybody’s fine. Everybody’s okay.” To expect that something is gonna happen. Now I mean, that makes it sound like my husband and I are the worst driving teachers in the world.

But pulling around two tons of machinery is a new challenge. And we need to make sure that our kids know that when they go out to play, they’re gonna get bumps. They’re gonna get bruises. And that’s okay. That’s a part of growing up. That’s a part of childhood. We need to give ’em the space to be able to do that.

We have Bactine and Band-Aids at the house. You are going to be fine. But sending them back out to play, so that they … and this is for boys and for girls. You’re absolutely right, but bumps and bruises come with it. I read an article recently by a wonderful author, Erin MacPherson.

John: Uh-hm.

Kathi: And it’s talking …

John: She’s been here before.

Kathi: Yes and let my boys be boys. My boys get to play and they get to be rough. Now they don’t get to hurt anybody, but they get to be boys and we get to celebrate that.

Jim: I’ll tell you a fun one. I mean, I … I just thought of this as you’re talking. Just put a hose out there and tell ’em to have a mud fight.

Kathi: Absolutely. (Laughter) Be that …

Jim: I think that would work.

Kathi: Hey, have a spaghetti feast. We’ve the three of us have had conversations about boys and food (Laughter). And you know, putting down a sheet and letting them have a spaghetti feast without utensils.

Jim: That’s it, no utensils. I love that one.

Kathi: Yep.

Jim: Talk about that bucket list and what the summer could look like.

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: It does and you know, it does require a little bit of planning—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –but you can do a lot of fun things that summer becomes something that the whole family looks forward to. When it … you know, April, May, school is ending, everybody starts getting excited, because it’s special.

Kathi: Yes. Well, and think about it. I know that one of my dreams as my kids was [sic] growing up, is I wanted to be the house where kids wanted to hang out. I wanted to be the place where their friends wanted to come over. And that takes a little forethought and planning. It doesn’t just come because you’re the fun mom.

Jim: It takes a lot of food, too.

Kathi: It takes a lot of food (Laughter); it really does. But getting your kids involved in that aspect and saying, “Okay, we’re gonna cook together before your friends come over. And we’re gonna bake cookies.” And the bucket list is, what I talk about that is saying, okay, let’s come up with, not just what’s important to mom, but what’s important to the kids. But everybody gets a say in this and dad gets a say in it, too.

You know, maybe it’s the 10 things or the 50 things, I don’t know. But you know, when you have a little forethought, you can do things like, we want to show a movie on our garage door. So, I’m gonna have dad bring home a projector from work with his boss’s permission and we’re gonna get a movie and we’re going to have the drive-in movie at our house. (Laughter) And it takes a little planning. It takes a little thought, but how fun is that? And think, your kids are gonna remember that the rest of their lives.

Jim: I … I love those ideas and … uh … let’s at the end here, we got the grumpy teenager. Let’s talk about that one. We haven’t talked about that one yet.

John: I got a couple.

Jim: And (Laughter) that’s a teenager that is the one-word answer teenager. How was your day?

Kathi: Yes.

Jim: –Good. What’d you do today? Nothin’. You know—

Kathi: Do you have—

Jim: –you know the mind-set.

Kathi: –any homework? No.

Jim: No.

Kathi: Liar.

Jim: Well, it’s summertime, so—

Kathi: Yes, that’s true.

Jim: –that’s not gonna be it.

Kathi: They don’t.

Jim: But it … but it’s just, they’re in their world.

Kathi: Right.

Jim: They’re in that funky moment in life, where nothing pleases them. Uh … speak about that situation. What can you do as a mom to motivate them a little bit to look at life with a little more optimism?

Kathi: Well, I’ll give you the big answer and, one of our big answers and one of our little answers. And one, is to, as a parent, trying to understand what really does light their fire. You know, understand their genre of music or reading, just so you have an understanding of where they’re coming from.

But also, if they lean towards art, finding programs that they would be involved in and supporting them in that. And even if they don’t say thank you, you will find out years later that, that was important to them, but being able to support that.

And then one kinda crazy thing that my husband and I did and we learned this from a pastor that we had when I was much younger, was that they took each of their kids on a trip when they were 16-years-old.

Jim: By themselves.

Kathi: By themselves, so the dad took the son and the mom took the daughter. Now because we’re part of a blended family, I ended up taking each of my kids individually. And one of the things that we did with my son, I did with my son, is he and I went to the Shakespeare festival in Oregon. And part of the plan of this was, they had to plan with us. This wasn’t a parent-planned—

Jim: Okay.

Kathi: –trip.

Jim: So, they helped plan it.

Kathi: They helped plan it. And so, from the time he was 14, till the time he was 16, we worked on planning this trip, what plays we were gonna see. And what we did is, we stopped at used bookstores all the way from Northern California up to Oregon. And we bought a book at each used bookstore between here and there.

And for about two years, those were the best conversations I had with my son. We saved the money for it. He saved money for it. And we had such an amazing experience because we talked all the way to Oregon and we talked all the way home and he asked me questions, like one of the questions he asked me, we’re in the midst of this. We’re listening to this book on tape, a Donald Miller book. And out of the clear blue sky, my son asked me, “Do you think I’m a good person?”

Jim: Hm.

Kathi: And I was flabbergasted, but it gave us space and time that we never would’ve had at home. And so, we talked about that and we talked about what does a good person mean? And what does that mean in the light of Christ? And we had this conversation that is one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with him. And because … and this happened when he was 16-years-old. And it was because we had allowed some space and time for just our relationship. So, the little answer is, get involved in the little things. The big answer for us was creating a space and a time for us to linger over each other and just be able to be in relationship.

Jim: Well, and what a cherished moment that must have been and we can create that. We just have to slow down—

Kathi: Right.

Jim: –long enough to create it and I like that idea. I’m already thinkin’, hopefully, Trent won’t say “Antarctica.”

Kathi: Yeah, well—

Jim: It’s quite possible.

Kathi: –you had to be able to drive there. That was the—

Jim: Good.

Kathi: –that was the criteria. But I will say, you know, we talked about all this planning and it seems like it’s a lot of pressure. But the plans are up front. But the enjoyment is all summer long. So, you invest a little up front and say, I’m gonna put in some time. I may have to put a lo … aside a little bit of money and a little bit of energy, but really, the dividends last all summer long.

Jim: Uh … Kathi Lipp, author of the e-book, Surviving Summer Vacation, we’ll have details about that. Thanks for bein’ with us. And thank you for giving us ideas on what we can do to make the summer not just productive, but spiritually helpful. Thanks so much.

Kathi: It’s gonna be an amazing summer.


John: Well, I’m looking forward to it and certainly with your tips and ideas, Kathi, it’s sure to be a memorable one.

Now, we have a super resource for you. It’s free and it’ll supplement your summer plans. It’s the Thriving Families Summer Calendar and a lot of families use this for some fun, faith-filled adventures. Uh … it’s a new calendar for this year and we had one woman in Dallas, TX tell us that her children are nine, seven and five and in previous years they’ve really had a wonderful time following the daily activities in this calendar. You’ll see 32 cards for you and you’ll learn and reinforce spiritual truths through simple, exciting activities and scripture verses and you can download this free tool directly from our website.

And then, as we mentioned, Kathi’s e-book is Surviving Summer Vacation, and you’ll find that calendar and the e-book, as well as ways to donate to this … uh … family ministry at

If you’d like, give us a call and we can tell you a bit more about these resources. Our number is 800-232-6459. 800, the letter “A” and the word FAMILY.

Our program today was provided by Focus on the Family. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller inviting you back tomorrow. You’ll hear from financial expert Michelle Singletary. She’s got some great ways to break bad spending habits and plot a course to become debt free. That’s tomorrow, when we’ll have more trusted advice to help your family thrive.

Today's Guests

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Clubhouse Magazine

This kids magazine for ages 8-12 reinforces traditional values and promotes family closeness with hands-on activities, challenging puzzles, exciting stories and more!

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