The posts have already begun. Moms on day one and two of summer break asking how they will manage the entire summer with their children. We aren’t a big camp family, so I like to keep my sanity by using summer schedules. If the thought of creating schedules makes you start to freak out, I promise that this one won’t.
Schedules = Sanity (I promise)
While many schedule haters will argue that summers should be completely free of schedules, I have to respectfully disagree. Kids LOVE schedules. They thrive on them. When their very scheduled lives come to a screeching halt at the end of June, their whole world turns upside down. Do I think that a schedule should be minute to minute with strict bedtimes and wake times? No way. However, I do think that a general guideline of how the day will go is super helpful. Our daily schedule includes some “theme” days and plenty of room for free play and fun. Since I am a teacher, I enjoy having some unscheduled time as well, so a very loose schedule is the perfect compromise.
Chores and Responsibilities
Each member of our family has their own chores and responsibilities. Our summer schedule includes these responsibilities as part of the daily routine. Summer is a good time to introduce new chores and responsibilities to your kiddo. Keeping a clean room is one of our non-negotiable activities. Room cleaning is on the list daily before we leave the house. If we have an activity outside of the house, we do not leave until the room is clean. Other responsibilities might include getting dressed, helping a sibling get dressed or packing snacks for the day. Feeling stuck? I have some great independence building ideas in this post. Need some ideas about creating your own chore chart? Check out this post.
Theme Days for fun Schedules
There are endless ideas for theme days. If you check out Pinterest, you will see some super crafty moms doing all kinds of stuff on “Make it Monday.” Ya’ll know that crafting isn’t my strong suit, so we use our themes for a little bit of everything. To avoid the “summer slide” we have some activities on Math Monday, Write Wednesday and Tech Tuesday. On Think Thursday and Fun Friday we play board games and put together puzzles. We also use fun games in our Highlights subscription as well. There are so many ways to engage your kiddos on these theme days. They may include trips, exploring or art.
Make a Rainy Day Jar
There’s nothing like a gloomy day to foil beach plans in the summer. Since we do like to do something each day, I created a rainy day jar with a list of activities to use when the weather doesn’t cooperate. There are about a million choices for the rainy day activity list, but make your list one that doesn’t make you cranky. What do I mean? If you don’t feel like touring local museums, don’t make it part of your lists. There are plenty of activities you can do at home and others if you want to head out. Kids love drawing the “surprise” activity for the day. If your activities take some planning, you can have kids draw the night before so you have some time to plan and organize if need be!
Boredom is Good
My schedule may sound packed, but there is plenty of boredom time built in. There are lots of spaces for “playtime” which essentially means entertaining oneself without TV or electronics. Our daily activity is also almost always the beach or pool, so not much going on there by way of structured play. Since my girl is an only child, I think it’s important for her to consistently interact with kids her age. She has been enjoying meeting random playmates at the beach and having her own adventures. Don’t feel like you have to build in structured activities. Free play is ESSENTIAL to your child’s development.
To Screen or Not to Screen
When kiddos get bored, they start annoying mom. When they annoy mom, mom gets aggravated. When mom reaches her boiling point, out come the screens. While I am not an advocate for long stretches of unsupervised screen time (read more about that here), some screen time is perfectly fine during the long days of summer. We have a strict 30 minute daily limit with our kiddo. It’s so easy to hide out behind the screens and forget about all that beautiful sunshine. Since my hospitalization (read about that here) I have even imposed limits on my phone use. So far, I haven’t lost anything but the stress. Totally okay with that.
Decompress and Enjoy
If you are wondering how to make the summer completely awesome for your kiddos, just try to kick back and enjoy. If that means hanging in your own backyard all summer long, I say go with it. We only get a few months of the beautiful weather up here in New England! Stay up late, sleep in on the weekends, have some laughs and remember that this is your summer too, mom.