School’s out and summer days are here! How do you ensure a fun summer for the family without letting the house fall apart or stressing everyone out with a packed schedule? Here’s what works for us.
Without the school tardy bell to prod us along, my children tend to think they can roll out of bed, turn on a movie or computer game, and relax their way into the day during the summer. The problem with that is our morning’s half done and it’s getting hot outside before we’ve accomplished a thing.
We all fare better if we follow an easy morning routine. Ours looks like this:
- Get dressed.
- Brush teeth.
- Drink a glass of water. (Are my children the only ones who seriously forget to drink anything during the day?!)
- Make beds.
- Tidy bedrooms.
It doesn’t take long, but by the time that’s done I usually have breakfast ready and then we can go about the rest of the day.
Heads Up on the Schedule
Surprises are fun, but when one day doesn’t look like the next it’s sometimes helpful to give everyone a heads up on what to expect. Tonight at bedtime we had a little family meeting. Tomorrow looks like basically like this:
- Vacation Bible School
- Quiet time/Nap time (for everyone ~ if they’re not sleeping, they’re reading)
- Clean Bedrooms
- Free time
No one needs to grab the ipod or the computer when we get back from VBS because we have a plan. I also keep the big stuff on a dry erase calendar on the fridge for easy reference. With games nearly every day, it’s nice to know who’s playing and what time we leave without having to repeat myself 20 times throughout the day.
Chore Charts and Bingo Boards
I expect more help from my big kids during the summer because we are here more (most days). Summer’s a great time for older children to earn some extra cash, too, so we’ve got chore charts made and cash rewards prepared to encourage them to get some things done.
Bingo Boards are one way to nix too much “Mom, I’m boooored” talk. Long days at home can turn into project or discovery days with a little push from an incentive chart.
Keep it Simple
For the most part we try to keep things simple in the summer. Simple meals that are easy and fast free us up for last-minute walks to the pool or a quick drive to the farm. (A well-stocked freezer is a valuable summer asset!) A short, simple cleaning routine keeps the house from falling apart while not taking up the best parts of our day. Limiting commitments allows us the freedom to do whatever suits our fancy and limits “have to be there, let’s get going!” stress.
Don’t Forget the Free Time
Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to schedule every minute of every day during the summer (or any time of year!) with outings and activities. A little structure is good for everyone, and no one will complain about a day at the zoo or water park, but let’s let kids be kids. They need down time to play, to rest, and yes, to be bored. Free time is a good thing!
The days are long, but the season is short. With a little advanced planning, summer days can be fun and productive for everyone in the family!
What essentials do you include in your summer days?