How To Plan a Meaningful Summer Part 2

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money on them”- Abigail Van Buren Growing up, my family never really went on vacation. My brothers and I would each get to spend a week at our grandparents, we’d go to camp, and spend a lot of time hanging out at the community pool. My grandparents retired to a lake in central Virginia and it was then that our family started “vacationing” together. Yes, we were just staying at my grandparents’ house, but it finally gave us an opportunity to play together.

Meaningful Summer Blog 2

Our kids would tell you that their very favorite vacations are spent in Cape Cod or on the lake (any lake). Last summer we headed to Lake Gaston where we spent long days jumping off docks, fishing, tubing, water skiing and just playing together. When everyone was finally water-logged we made and enjoyed homemade ice cream together and even roasted marshmallows a time or two. It wasn’t extravagant, but our kids had the time of their lives.

We believe that traveling and vacationing together as a family is important and we strive to do it every summer. Here are a few things that we prioritize:

  1. ADVENTURE! Our family tries to make adventure a top priority and vacations allow for this. When you take a vacation you will experience new things and new adventures. We love watching our kids discover places and things for the first time and they LOVE when our family discovers new things together.
  2. BONDING! Traveling and vacationing as a family will create fond memories and it strengthens family bonds. Our kids might not remember every detail of our trips and may not be able to articulate why they loved it, but I believe all these memories deeply affect their feelings of belonging, love, security, togetherness, and family.
  3. TIME! Vacationing allows us to disconnect from all the other things that distract us on a regular basis and gives us the opportunity to spend quality time with each other. When we are home we often find ourselves on the go- going to work, going to school, going to sporting events- going, going going! As Pastor Mark often says, “a change of pace plus a change of place equals a change of perspective.” SO true!
  4. PLAY and RELAX! Playing isn’t just for kids. As adults, we need to play! My kids LOVE to watch my husband and I goof around and have fun with each other and them. While we do this on a regular basis even at home, our vacations really allow for this as we RELAX! We can set aside the things that keep us busy and just have a blast as a family.

While we can’t reduce parenting to an oversimplified time versus money formula,, I do believe the quote I began with holds some truth. I mentioned the amazing long weekend our family spent at the lake- The vacation that cost us almost nothing, but left my kids begging for a repeat every summer. What I didn’t mention was that, prior to heading to the lake, we had gone on an amazing trip to Disney World. It was a dream trip that we were able to take thanks to generous grandparents. While it was surreal being in Disney and we loved that our kids got to experience Disney for the first time not only with us, but with their grandparents, it didn’t seem to have the same impact as our simple trip to the lake.

Our kids talk more about that little trip than they do Disney! So it really isn’t about the extravagance of the vacation and it certainly doesn’t have to be about the money. We realized our kids really just enjoy relaxing and playing with us-without any distractions.

Regardless of budget or other limitation, be sure to make vacation a priority for your family and start making some memories this summer!


Nicole married her high school sweetheart, Matt, and together they have three boys (9, 7, and 4). She has been a teacher for 15 years and in her spare time she loves to go for a run, drink a cup of coffee, and build community.  Nicole’s bravest moment was saying “let’s do this!” to the adventure of moving her family from NY to DC.