How To Make The Most Out Of Your Summer Family Outings

Our summer camping trip is coming up this weekend. Every year we go with friends to a quaint little spot out in the woods. The kids love to explore and get as dirty as they possibly can. My husband and I wanted to encourage you as you set out to take adventures with your family by sharing some tips on how to make the most of your time spent together.

If you already took that vacation or went on that camping trip be sure to save this for your next go around! We pray this blesses you and your family!

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Aaron Smith: Hey we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

Jennifer Smith: Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Aaron Smith: Today we’re going to talk about how to make the most out of your family outings this summer.

Aaron Smith: Hey thanks for joining us this week. We just want you to invite you as usual to subscribe to our channel so you get notified every time we upload a new episode.

Jennifer Smith: Also, this week’s episode is super exciting and fun, and we know that you guys have a lot of ideas about summer outings, so please feel free to leave comments of ideas in the comments section.

Aaron Smith: This is one of those fun episodes we do, we’ve been trying to do fun episodes every so often. We do Biblical, Biblical, Biblical episode.

Jennifer Smith: Really heavy, really heavy.

Aaron Smith: And then we want to do like a fun one-

Jennifer Smith: Light hearted.

Aaron Smith: We did the date night one a couple episodes ago. Now we’re talking about summer outings, summer family trips. It’s something, especially if you live in a place that has seasons, four seasons, where we have all four seasons. We just came out of winter. It was snowing, cold, couldn’t do anything much.

Jennifer Smith: Everybody looks forward to the summer.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, everyone looks for the summer here. Or you live in California like we used to, and it’s just summer every single day of the year.

Jennifer Smith: Which is also exciting.

Aaron Smith: Which could also be exciting. But, this is going to be just for those of you that during the summer you plan things, you go do trips, you do beach trips, you do lake trips, you do mountain trips, you do hikes. Every summer we like to try and plan what we call an adventure day on Saturdays. It’s on the calendar. It doesn’t mean we know exactly what it’s going to be every Saturday, but Saturday we do something. Some Saturdays we miss, something comes up, but for the most part it’s on the calendar. Like we talked about in our dating episode that when it’s on the calendar it’s easier to, harder to-

Jennifer Smith: Make sure it happens.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, it’s easier to make sure it happens. It’s harder to miss than if it’s not on the calendar and you’re just trying to whimsically oh this Saturday let’s do something versus it’s on the calendar, you know that something is going to happen.

Jennifer Smith: It forces us to kind of plan and prepare for it versus not think about it at all until the summer is gone, and then you’re like whoops.

Aaron Smith: Which we’ve had a few summers where we’re like what did we do that summer. We just worked, and we did normal things. So that’s our first tip is just put it on the calendar. Maybe it’s once a week, maybe it’s once every other week that you just know that you’re going to do something as a family. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s just a dedicated adventure day.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, sometimes we plan something that only takes an hour or two, and then other times it’s literally all day. It just depends on what we decide to do. But either way it’s really fun and it helps our minds engage with our kids on what we are doing.

Aaron Smith: Yeah. It’s also something that our kids get really excited about because they know it’s coming. They know, “Hey are we doing our adventure day today? What’s the adventure? What are we going to do?” Then they get really sad when we’re like actually-

Jennifer Smith: It’s yard work day.

Aaron Smith: We’re working in the house today. But it’s a good break up of the summer, and our kids love it. It’s just a tradition that we’ve started, so maybe you guys as a family could start that tradition as well. But we just want to talk about the value of planning outings and adventures with our families, and how that could just benefit us spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Why don’t you bring up some of the reasons why you love them?

Jennifer Smith: I mean just right off the bat building memories with you, with our children, and just knowing that they come back up so often throughout the year. Hey remember when we did that, or hey can we go do that again. It’s just a fun way to engage with everyone at the same time, whether again it’s something small or something really grand. It doesn’t really matter what the thing is, we’re building memories together and they’re going to be things that either our kids will remember, or our littlest ones will look back at pictures and say, “Oh, that looked really fun. I’m sure I had a great time.”

Aaron Smith: No, they’re going to remember them all.

Jennifer Smith: But another thing that I really feel like doing these outings does for our family at least is we get to work together. I mean it takes time to prep things.

Aaron Smith: Plan it, yeah.

Jennifer Smith: Especially like we go on a camping trip every year. In order to do that, there’s a lot involved. We try and make sure the house is clean before we leave. We have to pack. We have to pack the car. We have to-

Aaron Smith: Food.

Jennifer Smith: Get food. There’s just a lot, and there’s a lot of things involved in doing it, and a lot of different parts that people in our family can play. I think just being able to say we’re working together as a team to make this happen.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, and giving the kids chores to do. Like hey you’re going to pack the chairs. Hey, you’re going to help me get the paper plates, or whatever we’re going to do. They can participate and prepare for the adventure instead of just participating in it, which is awesome.

Aaron Smith: Another thing it makes me think of is I actually used to be really bad at wanting to go do things because of how inconvenient it made me feel, or what did you call it, I was a stick in the mud. Is that what it was?

Jennifer Smith: I’ve used some terms.

Aaron Smith: I don’t know what it was about me, but I had a hard time. I’m sure that I’m not the only one in marriages that watch us that struggles with the preparing and this like, oh going to the lake, then there’s sunscreen and I’ve got to be sticky, and then what are we going to do about bathrooms-

Jennifer Smith: Towels, bathing suits, and-

Aaron Smith: When the kids are dirty how are we going to get back in the car. Then we’ve got to drive, and what about … When we think about all of the logistics of it, it would get me really overwhelmed, and just think it would be easier just to not do it.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. The biggest one was going to the beach because I remember you just, the sand was like-

Aaron Smith: Oh, sand everywhere.

Jennifer Smith: I don’t want sand on me for weeks. I don’t want it in the car.

Aaron Smith: In the car.

Jennifer Smith: In the car seats. It was literally everywhere.

Aaron Smith: What’s funny is the kids literally don’t care at all.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, they don’t care.

Aaron Smith: There’s just sand everywhere and they’re like oh.

Jennifer Smith: They love it.

Aaron Smith: So really for me how that changed was I had to realize it wasn’t about me in those times. That our family adventure days was about the family, not about my own comfort, or things that I desired. You know what’s funny is I always loved it when we were doing it. It’s just the thought process right before doing it that would hinder me. Just another tip for you guys is if any of you in the marriage are like that, don’t let yourself get in the way of doing something awesome with your family because your kids are going to remember oh dad or mom never wanted to do anything. But if you can step out of that what you’ll teach them instead is that actually they can get out of the way of themselves to benefit others, and will enjoy it also.

Jennifer Smith: And that there’s going to be certain circumstances that are hard, or are inconvenient, or are messy, and that all of those things are okay. It adds to the flavor of life.

Aaron Smith: It’s why we call it an adventure.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, that’s why it’s an adventure because you don’t know what kind of mess you’re going to get into. I think just having the mindset that you can and should embrace it.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, and I just keep going back to that date night episode that we did where the date night for us is like getting out of the ordinary, and it’s like that romance. It’s like taking us out of the ordinary and taking a moment to be like hey this is, we’re with each other. The same with our adventure days is there’s the everyday thing, homeschool, or school, or work, and all of the things that just happen every single day and they kind of have to be routine. Then this adventure day it’s like hey, all we have to do is focus on being outdoors, being with each other, having fun, talking, doing something different-

Jennifer Smith: And doing it as a family.

Aaron Smith: And doing it together. Just having that mentality that this is the intention of it is just to get out of the day to day, get out of the ordinary and just spark adventure.

Jennifer Smith: Another thing that I’ve noticed with adventure days is the conversations that come up because of it. When you’re doing something new, you’re exploring, whether you have little kids or older kids, I feel like everybody’s engaged in whatever the mission is, or whatever the fun activity is, and they ask a lot of questions. We come up with questions. We talk about hard marriage stuff sometimes as our kids are walking ahead of us and just enjoying nature-

Aaron Smith: While they’re distracted having fun, we have a good conversation.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: So it’s kind of like a date within the adventure.

Jennifer Smith: It totally is, but one thing I really love is just the conversation that gets stirred up because you are doing something new or different.

Aaron Smith: And it highlights the creativity in us, and it brings out the emotions and the excitement, and it’s a good atmosphere to do it in, which in a little bit we’re going to talk about some tips that are going to help us get the most out of these adventure days, these outings as a family. But just understanding that we can use these times for spiritual growth, for emotional growth, for family strengthening and tying us closer together. Like you said, finding opportunities to teach our kids things. Like we’re out and about and there’s nature, and there’s birds, and there’s huge lakes, and there’s mountains, and there’s … Just saying hey look at this bug, and just stopping for a few minutes to look at a bug, which you probably wouldn’t do on a normal day.

Jennifer Smith: Talk about God’s creativity.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, and talk about his creativity. So looking forward to these days as more than just I want to go relax because often times the adventures aren’t relaxing.

Jennifer Smith: No, they take way more energy.

Aaron Smith: They’re not vacations. So getting out of the mentality of we’re going to go have a relaxing day. That’s not the intention. I think relaxing comes as a byproduct sometimes in the perfect scenario-

Jennifer Smith: Especially when you bring your hammock.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, but if you expect it to be just relaxing, you’re going to miss out on exactly what it’s for and you actually might get frustrated because you have the kids, and they want to, they have way more energy than you might have, and you might be doing something that actually is going to be hot and dirty and sweaty, or just out of the way and not easy. It doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just doesn’t, our expectation of it should be bigger than just our own comfort, but for the actual being and excitement and fun and adventure of the family as a whole. Right?

Jennifer Smith: Yeah. So we wanted to just share some proverbs, some bits of wisdom as tips for you as you go into this summer seasons and you’re preparing for these summer adventures with your family. We just thought it would be fun to dive into some of these scriptures to just be an encouragement to you in some of those, they can be sensitive situations where frustrations are starting to get stirred up, you’re trying to leave and things aren’t going the way as planned, or whatever-

Aaron Smith: Expectations are broken, bickering starts.

Jennifer Smith: Exactly. So we’re going to start with Proverbs 17:14. It says, “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” This one just speaks to when you feel that tension in your heart start to rise up because your little ones aren’t obeying or doing what you’ve asked them to do-

Aaron Smith: You can’t find the tent that you’re looking for, or the-

Jennifer Smith: Or sometimes like me you feel like you’re doing a little bit more of the heavy lifting than your spouse when really they are you just have a skewed perspective because of all the work that you’re doing. When you feel those tensions start to rise up in your heart, I feel like this is a great proverb, a bit of wisdom, to just encourage us to say hey we need to stop that. Just be aware that we can easily get to a point of strife, but we don’t have to.

Aaron Smith: So recognizing it when the bickering starts, like hey well you’re not going fast enough, hey can we actually get this going, and when you start feeling the tensions rising, and the words are getting a little sharper, stop it. It says, I’m going to read it again. It says, “The beginning of strife is like letting out of water.” Imagine a bag of water and you poke a little hole in it, and water just start coming out. But imagine it more like a balloon, you poke a hole in it, if you get that hole just right-

Jennifer Smith: Big gush.

Aaron Smith: But it could boom, and then all of a sudden you’re in strife. When you see the water start to trickle out, plug it. Say actually we’re not going to do that. Let’s take a moment, let’s pray as a family, let’s get our hearts right and say this is just going to be fun. Some of the expectations, we’re just going to let those go.

Jennifer Smith: Because otherwise that strife is going to flow into whatever adventure you’re trying to prepare and be really awesome for your family, and it’s going to feel very burdensome.

Aaron Smith: Well you’ll turn the adventure into more of a nightmare.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: You’re yelling at the kids, and you’re yelling at each other, and like I hate going out with everyone. So the moment you recognize the strife happening, just stop it immediately.

Jennifer Smith: And don’t justify your part in it by saying well I didn’t start it, or it’s not my fault. You could still stop it, even if you believe those things about yourself, you could still be the one that initiates the stopping because-

Aaron Smith: Because it’s a teamwork.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: You’re realizing well okay, I’m just going to shut up, I’m not going to say anything, and I’m going to move forward. I know that my wife’s probably just tired or whatever, or my husband just needs a second, and we’re going to get going, and it’s going to be good. We’re going to do it for the sake of the kids.

Jennifer Smith: Yup. In order to do that, you have to have a bit of patience. So, do you want to read the next proverb?

Aaron Smith: Which is Proverbs 19, verse 11. “Good sense makes one slow to anger,” or patient, “and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” In the ESV, the slow to anger means essentially patience. It’s like I’m going to be patient with the things that are getting in the way of what I think should be happening, and I’m not going to get frustrated by it, I’m not going to get angry by it. This kind of ties into what we were just talking about. That’s usually, this is usually what leads to the strife is you’re being impatient, you’re rushing, or things aren’t happening exactly how you want it, when you want it, and the way you want it, and so it builds up, and you get angry. You’re like okay this is not how I want it. So just having good sense in the situation. The sense is like you’re aware and saying you know what, this is going to be a fun day. Whether we leave at 9:00 like I said we were going to leave last night, or 9:45, or 10:00, I’m going to go with it, we’re going to go with it as a family.

Aaron Smith: If I see it coming up, I’m going to slow down and say hey let’s take a break for a second, I feel like we’re elevating in our frustrations, our patience are getting short, let’s work on becoming more patient. You know what, when the husband and wife work on this, it’s very visible to the children.

Jennifer Smith: Oh yeah.

Aaron Smith: They see you either working terribly together to do something fun, or they see fun things as a fun thing. Like oh mom and dad, they actually figured it out. It looks like they were getting frustrated, but they stopped. We actually teach our kids how to do that.

Jennifer Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well we teach our kids the other way too because if we’re in strife and we’re not being patient, our children are just going to follow in that example. Then all of a sudden they’re going to have attitudes-

Aaron Smith: And it will get elevated.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, so it gets rough real fast.

Aaron Smith: We’ve seen that many of times. We’ve had many adventure days ruined because of our impatience with each other, our not being slow to anger, and just letting things get in the way. Then we see it in our kids, like you said. But the days that we’re totally patient, even if our kids are tired, or having a little attitude, or whatever, it’s usually so much, like a percent of what it usually is when we’re also that way. They’re actually, like they bounce really quick out of it, and we can easily, because we have patience, be patient with them and say hey we’re having fun today, let’s change the way we’re thinking about this, and they change. It’s pretty amazing when we control ourselves and how they can control themselves.

Aaron Smith: So what’s the next?

Jennifer Smith: Well part of this is you’re talking about self-control. Could you read Proverbs 15:1 about your words and just the impact that they can have?

Aaron Smith: Yup. So Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We went from seeing strife before it came and just stopping it, talking about patience and being slow to anger and just lowering our expectations, and just being aware that it’s a fun day and we can be relaxed and loose, but then what often happens is it’s our words that triggers a lot of us.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: Like, “You’re not going fast enough. Hey, I asked for that 10 minutes ago. Why weren’t you ready when I thought you should be?” Just really using those kind of cutting words to let the other person know, or our children know, that they’re not living up to our expectations, they’re getting in our way, they’re not moving fast enough. Do I ever do that?

Jennifer Smith: Well, I was just going to say in my Bible on this verse I have a little note next to it. I don’t know when I wrote it, but it says, “I do this with Aaron.”

Aaron Smith: Oh do you?

Jennifer Smith: But I know this about myself. That especially in times of high stress where I feel like there is an expectation, or that something needs to be happening on a certain timeframe, and I’ve prepared myself, and I feel like you haven’t stuck to my timeframe, that those kinds of words, manipulation, things like that start coming out. So I’m very aware of that in my own heart, and I’m just being real with you guys, I’m just being honest so that you know that if you do it too you’re not alone it in, but I do think it’s an area of growth that we need to recognize, and again be initiators in. We need to be willing to stop the moment we feel our hearts directed in that way and pull back. Even if we have to look at some of these scriptures before we actually prepare for our adventures, I think that could be a really powerful way to prepare your heart and mind for these adventures.

Aaron Smith: Well that’s a good bit of advice actually is reading through some scripture as a family, these verses-

Jennifer Smith: Remind everyone of the goal.

Aaron Smith: Let’s get our minds in the right place, and then praying as a family. Hey God, be with us today. Put our minds in the right place.

Jennifer Smith: That’s good.

Aaron Smith: Help us to have good attitudes and be patient with each other. That’s an amazing way to start the day. We often, usually the morning goes rough, and then we’re in the car driving and we’re like we should pray as a family.

Jennifer Smith: A little late, but-

Aaron Smith: Yeah, a little late-

Jennifer Smith: But we get there.

Aaron Smith: But we’re getting a little better at it. Sometimes we forget, but sometimes we don’t. But just making sure that our words are good. A lot of these, and you’ll probably attest to this, a lot of these things that come up, it’s almost like every single time you’re going to go do something fun as a family, it’s like fights, it’s like frustration.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: Because we have this idea that today’s going to be perfect. We’re going to have so much fun-

Jennifer Smith: Guilty!

Aaron Smith: Everyone’s so tired, and nothing’s going to stop us from having fun. If you get in my way of this-

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, don’t get in my way. I’ve totally done that before.

Aaron Smith: It’s not just you, it’s like the family has this kind of like expectation about the day versus just enjoying it, every part of it.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: The preparing, the going, the coming back, the being dirty, the doing the thing that you went to go to. But having that expectation of like this day better be good because I’ve been looking forward to it. Then that brings us to the moment something gets in the way of that, it hurts our flesh. So just being very loose with that, and just letting it be a fun day.

Jennifer Smith: That’s really good. That actually leads us into our last bit of advice and bit of wisdom from Proverbs. It’s found in 4:18. It says, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” We kind of, this is an interesting imagery that we have going on-

Aaron Smith: I love that scripture there.

Jennifer Smith: But we picked it because we wanted to remind you guys that we shouldn’t be so self-focused when it comes to these family outings. Not only, like you’re talking about, each individual person having a specific expectation of the day being perfect, and all those expectations probably are different, but then there’s other people who are going to be a part of the journey, people who you’re walking past, people who you’re engaging in.

Aaron Smith: The person that’s taking too long getting gas at the gas station.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah, and every single person matters. So we need to be, we need to remember that we can’t be self-focused when it comes to these family adventures.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, and even as your family is going to do this fun day, we still have a mission as a family. That’s the whole reason we started Marriage After God is because we believe that our marriages, our families, have a mission for the kingdom of heaven. If we just let all of those things in the morning, we’re just fighting, and irritated, and bothered, and we’re yelling at the kids, and it’s icky. Then we’re waiting at the gas station and we’re just like well get the gas, like this guy’s just in front of me, and the world that we’re encountering could be encountering the gospel, the good news, or they could be encountering something else.

Jennifer Smith: Yeah.

Aaron Smith: So recognizing that as a family you’re a light. You’re a light in this world, and wherever you go for that adventure day is part of the mission because there’s going to be other people there that went through the exact same thing that you went through and probably didn’t do it as well, that don’t have the hope of Christ, that don’t have the Holy Spirit, that don’t have the word of God to help guide them. Then they’re seeing you guys and you look just like them, and there’s nothing exciting, there’s nothing interesting about you, there’s nothing that draws them in and says why are they so different. Or are you as a family, because you were walking in patience, and you were being careful with your words, and were being careful with your expectations, and now you just have this lightness and this fun, and you have this perspective as a family like hey, while we’re out today, let’s also find opportunities to love on someone, to invite someone to hang out with us, to talk to someone, to encourage someone, to help someone.

Aaron Smith: Instead of being so self-focused and being inward, and just like this is our day and if it doesn’t happen, and that’s usually when we’re like ooh, recognizing that you have a ministry as a family, even your kids. We tell our kids all the time, “Hey, where we’re going today, you guys are a witness. The way you act, the way you are towards others is going to show people that you love them. It’s going to show people how we are as a family.” Then you’d be a light, shining brighter and brighter.

Jennifer Smith: That also means that other people can interrupt your family outing-

Aaron Smith: That’s really good.

Jennifer Smith: Because I actually struggle with this a lot in that I have a specific expectation of how I want the day to go, and nobody can bump into that, but it happens all the time. Again, holding loosely this family adventure, or outing, or whatever you guys have planned, and letting it be okay that God bring people into your family and into your life that are going to interrupt things. Whether it’s a conversation, or you’re helping someone get gas because their car is broken down on the side of the road, whatever the situation is just be mindful and submit it to the Lord and make sure your hearts are yielded to his will so that he can interrupt you if he wants to.

Aaron Smith: Yeah. I would say even go further than that. Don’t even just be okay with the interruption, invite it. Ask God to, say God use our family today to be a light in the life of someone, another family. Ask have our children be a light to other children. Allowing these scheduled fun days to be intentional opportunities for mission work in the world.

Aaron Smith: So that was just our last tip in this idea of how to get the most out of our family outings this summer. We’re going to be trying all these things. I’m already thinking about when we plan these things, our adventures, that I have to remind myself of these things.

Jennifer Smith: I think we should just print out this list and make sure we read through it as a family and pray before anything starts.

Aaron Smith: Yeah, I like it. Then teach our kids to memorize those verses too.

Jennifer Smith: Exactly.

Aaron Smith: Hey we just thank you for joining us this week. We hope that this sparks awesome conversation with you and your family. We’d love to hear from you of the kinds of things you guys are going to do this summer. Give us some tips, ideas of your own. We’ll see you next week.

Aaron Smith: Did you enjoy today’s show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com, and let us help you cultivate and extraordinary marriage.

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