For Adults

Tips for Making the Most of Your Family’s Summer

Summer! Ice cream and cook outs. Staying up late and sleeping in. No homework and no alarm clocks. With all of the fun and freedom of the summer season, it will pass in the blink of an eye. How can we make this summer count in the lives of our teens and the story of our family?

1. Talk about it.

Set a goal for something you want to achieve this summer. Would you like to learn a skill? Explore a strength your teen has? Find a new way to serve as a family? Build on a relationship? Go on an adventure? Try something new? Take time to talk about it as a family and brainstorm your ideas for goals you can set as a family. (Bonus Handout: Check out our list of summer activities for inspiration.)

2. Schedule it.

Set realistic goals and mark it on the calendar. For most teens, summer is only 11 or 12 weeks long. That means there are only 12 Saturdays to make the most of! When you add in summer camps, family vacations, and church events, much of the summer is already planned out.
Choose one thing to focus on this summer with your teen or family, then put it on the calendar. Scheduling it gives you the best chance that it will actually happen. If your schedule is tight, you may only have one or two Saturdays this summer to set aside for your goal. If you have more open time, you might be able to spend one day each week or month focused on your goal. If you are a parent, you may still work full time, or if you are a youth leader, you may be seeing your students even less frequently in the summer. Don’t be discouraged if you only have a small amount of time with your teen! Even a small amount of time is powerful if we invest it wisely.

3. Look to the future.

Go ahead and start planning a fall schedule for your family. Make sure your your calendar reflects your priorities. Whether is it serving together, learning together, or spending time together, block out a time every month to continue to grow with your teen.

We only get 5 summers with our teenagers. Let’s invest these days, not just spend them.

Start a Conversation with Your Teen

  • What do you think is the most important thing on our schedule this summer?
  • Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never gotten the chance?
  • If you had $100 to do something new, what would you spend it on?
  • What is something that you could spend time doing this summer that you would be proud of?

Need help with coming up with a goal for your family? Check out our list for inspiration!

We also have a blog post on making the most of the summer geared for teens! Share this post with your teen daughter or a teen girl in your life.

Sign up to get the latest from the Shine! team here.

For Girls

Stressed Out: A God’s Girl’s Guide to Streamlining Stress

By Beth Bryant

Let’s be clear about one thing: stress is a part of life.

It affects every human, and teen girls are certainly no exception. With so many different activities, commitments, and social pressures, girls are susceptible to plenty of stressors—especially when you add in hormones, technology, and relationships! It’s important for God’s Girls to learn how to manage everyday stress in order to be healthy and focused—and better serve the Kingdom of God.

Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to depression or anxiety. Stress can come from many directions, and it can be helpful to figure out where the greatest amount of stress is coming from so that you can better deal with it. For teen girls, stress can come from a demanding schedule, physical health and hormones, relationships with family, friends, and boys, or even from a sudden transition, like starting a new school or moving to a new place.

Once the source of stress is identified, you can take practical steps to get it under control:

Managing Your Schedule

  • Prioritize your activities. Even if an activity is good, it might not be a wise idea to add it to an already overflowing schedule. Prayerfully and critically consider what can be cut from your schedule to give you more free time.
  • Make time to relax. Spend a small amount of time each day, even just 20 minutes, on something you enjoy. Do you like to read? Ride a bike? Color, draw, or crochet? Low-key activities you can put down and pick back up easily are great for getting some “you” time.
  • Sync a family calendar. If you can see everyone else’s commitments in the same place, it will help you be more prepared for things like meals and rides, and cut down on stress.

Staying on Top of School

  • Keep a planner that contains due dates and reminders to keep track of tests and projects. (And actually USE IT!)
  • Plan your day. Make sure you schedule time to study—if you can, the same time each day.
  • Ask for help. If you’re struggling with algebra or writing a paper, ask a teacher who can help you or give you pointers.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute.

A Healthy You

  • Track your periods. You might not be completely regular, but that’s okay. If you can figure out when they’re coming, you can prepare emotionally and otherwise.
  • Get the right amount of sleep. Both too much and too little sleep can be damaging physically and emotionally. Studies show 9-10 hours is about the right amount for middle and high school age girls.
  • Get some sunshine! Take a walk, sit by a window.
  • Eat for nutrition. Toss the junk food (most of the time!) and opt for nutrient-packed foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain.

Real Relationships

  • Communicate with your parents/guardians. It may seem annoying, but lack of communication causes stress and plenty of arguments. Let them know what’s going on at school and how you’re feeling emotionally. Make sure you’re clear on what’s expected of you and do your best to honor them.
  • Steer clear of “friends” who make you feel bad about yourself or pressure you into acting different from who you really are.
  • Limit time with any one particular friend. It’s great to have a BFF, but even besties need space. Try to spend time with different people.
  • Limit time on Instagram, Facebook, and other virtual social networks. Remember, people only share their highlights. Everything on social media isn’t real life!
  • Focus on friendships with guys instead of intense romantic relationships—at least in this stage of your life. This will keep the stress level down and allow you room to figure out who you are and what you want in a guy when the time is right.

Big Changes

  • Find a project to focus on. In the middle of big change like moving, starting a new school, family changes, or another life event, keeping up with a reading list or a creative project can help you stay centered.
  • Talk to a trusted adult who can help you sort through your stress or hurt.

So, what now? Even after taking these practical steps, we aren’t guaranteed that everything will be easy. Life is still tough! Sin in the world messes up God’s perfect plan, so we have to deal with stuff like stress. But God loves us and promises in Hebrews 13:5 that He will NEVER leave us alone. Jesus understands what you’re dealing with, and in Hebrews 4:16, He tells us how to respond to our stress:

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

God tells us to ask for His help when we need it! The result?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

When we take practical steps to manage our stress and rely on our relationship with God to give us the strength we need to respond to it properly, we can face stress with peace and confidence.

For a printable version of this list, check out the Resources page.

Announcements

Shine! in Oklahoma

We just wrapped up the first conference of 2017 in Oklahoma! We loved meeting so many new girls, youth leaders, and moms, and we even got to see some God’s Girls for the second time with our new alumni track. God moved among the almost 100 participants as we talked about finding identity in God, God’s plan for our bodies, and strategies for making smart decisions that honor God.

Moms and youth leaders learned ways to pray for their teen girls and gained new resources for ministering to girls. Everyone heard testimonies of God’s grace from two different women who shared about how finding their identity in God has transformed their lives.

After a fantastic meeting at Randall University, the Shine! team is gearing up for the next conference near Tampa, Florida. We can’t wait to see you there!