What will you do with your kids this summer? Those days for us will be so wildly different than the school year! We all want it to be a fun time, full of memories and happy days. I want us to feel at the end of the summer really REFRESHED and like it was a great time! And also for my house not to be a wreck and my nerves totally shot! Here's how to make a plan for your family's summer days that will help you look back on the season with fond memories instead of nightmares.
Get the Bonus Meal Time Tip at the end of the post!
My kids like to look at the calendar and victoriously declare the number of dwindling days until the end of school! Ack! Summer is coming quick! Do you have a plan for what your daily life will look like?
Why not just wing it? That might be great for you and the personalities of your kids, but if you have a kindergartner about to start summer break, here's a tip: he or she is having LOTS of structure at school. Structured fun ALL DAY LONG. Sometimes going from a highly structured day to no structure at all can be overwhelming and stressful (read: illogically super-fussy kid).
And if you have little ones at home and will have school-aged kids joining them, it can become chaotic in a snap! My four-year-old spends all day YEARNING for her big sisters to get home from school to play. And sometimes, they come home and play and it's AMAZING. BUT. But all the rest of the time, they come home and want to do their own thing (which is totally understandable because they've been in school all day and they just need a BREAK!) and she is SO SAD and MAD about it. Because it's not what she expected it would be. It's not the glorious fun and adventure she's been building up in her mind all day. Even though we talk about this ALMOST DAILY. You can certainly throw the schedule out the window if everyone is having a blast throwing caution to the wind, but it's helpful to have if necessary...
We have 5 kids, so things sometimes are a little different for us than for a smaller family. We still have a daily napping child and I work part time from home. We live in the midwest so in August and September, it's usually in the high 90s or 100s in the afternoons, making going outside pretty unbearable during those hours.
So I like to have a plan. I like to be prepared and know the direction we're headed (at least generally). Or maybe have MULTIPLE plans because you know what? I like options. And if me spending 1 hour coming up with a couple plans makes life considerably better later, that's definitely worth it to me! All of these things I'm talking about go into my plan(s).
The First Step: Know What You Want
What do I want to accomplish? (Big picture)
- I want summer to be fun
- I want to grow my relationships with my kids
- I want to prevent summer slide (where they lose some progress they made in school, especially in reading and math)
- I want them to read A LOT
- I want to still be reasonably productive
- I want them to learn to do their work more efficiently and with NO complaining!
- I want NOT to hate our schedule
- I want NOT to lose my mind
- Go outside daily
- Because I want us to go outside daily, I want to get them bathed daily (which does NOT happen for the non-independent showers).
- Do chores (or rather get them to do age-appropriate chores daily)
- Do a few "special" things each week (or at least weekly)
- Each of us have some independent time each day
- Each of my kids to have some "Mom Time" each day--at least a few minutes of my undivided attention
OK, so now what? Get a piece of paper, or open your notes app. Start at the top with Wake Up. Whatever that time might be for you. (And for us it's WAY different in the summer than in the school year.) At the bottom, write Bed Time. You're off to the races!
Ask yourself this: What HAS to happen at certain times? You know. Those critically important things like FOOD. And sometimes cleaning. For sure add in naps for little ones who need them (also, bigger ones like you, if you're a napper). Write them down at the appropriate times. Now you can see your Day Skeleton and have a more realistic idea of what you can actually do.
Neither I nor my kids want to spend more than like 30 minutes at a time cleaning. So I'm adding that to the day in a 30 minute chunk. And approaching our outdoor time more like a daily recess (30-45 min) and less like Mom-never-lets-us-go-outside-because-she-hates-nature-so-I-never-want-to-go-in makes everything a little simpler. And with them being hot and stinky after "recess," that's a perfect time for them to have some showers and then chill out a bit independently while I work.
Then lunch time and clean up. And chores. My kids have grown an entire YEAR since last summer's chore assignments. They're older, wiser, taller, stronger, and more savvy. So I'm going to expect more out of all of them. I'm not sure what will work better for chores, so here are my ideas.
Clean all together during chore time 1 room each day
Give each kid their own tasks. They probably can't do the ceiling fans, but they can certainly put away toys, trash, and dirty clothes. They can use the Swiffer Duster on windowsills and baseboards. They can make beds (it's just pulling up sheets and blankets, right??) Try to "do a good job" AND be done in 30 minutes. I don't know if this will work, because 2yo tends to "impede progress." Maybe one of the big kids jobs can be to entertain her while we all do the cleaning?
Each kid has their own chores
Have you built a chore list yet? Break down EVERY. SINGLE. JOB. that needs to be done into manageable chunks that kids can do. Like "Scrub bathroom sink," not "Clean Bathroom." Or Empty Bathroom Trash. Then assign chores to each kid. And make them actually do them. Rewards also work. I like rewards. I've been known to give myself a piece of candy for cleaning the bathroom before! The benefit of each kid just being responsible for their own chores and doing them independently is you avoid the catastrophe of 1 kid not helping (I don't really think it's a catastrophe, but there's a lot of hollering around here when there's a real or perceived unfairness). Then it doesn't really matter when they're being a turd. They just can't do the fun thing if their chores aren't done. No skin off my back (which is consequently a DISGUSTING metaphor and makes me think of a cheese slicer--GROSS!).
We'll try each of these (or end up doing a combination). The point is Finding Something That Works For You!
Continue adding to your daily plan until you're happy. Want them to read more like me? Write it down. Mandatory trampoline time? Add it in. Maybe you have too many things you want to do. Or not nearly enough. Be really flexible. Talk to your kids about what they might want to include in the day. Watch their beautiful faces light up in anticipation!
The great thing about making the plan is that you can make the best plan that works for you. I wash towels on Wednesdays. That means my 4yo can fold the towels on Wednesdays as one of her chores. You don't have to be that detailed if you don't want to be. But think through what you want and make a plan!
Fun Outdoor Activities
So here's my (flexible) daily plan
Brush hair and teeth. Put on play clothes.
Showers/baths and rest
Independent playtime or "special thing" time
Lunch and clean up
Independent playtime or "special thing" time
Video time/Dinner prep
Eat dinner and clean up
Family fun time
What if this isn't for you?
Does this sound WAY too structured for you? Do you think you'll hate it?
So don't do it every day! You can make this your Monday, Wednesday, Friday plan and do something completely different on Tuesday and Thursday. Or you can totally change everything about it. Make a plan that will work for you and your family. Think outside the box. You do you.
Bonus: Meal Time Tip
Meal Time With Kids Can Be Difficult (Read: Nightmare)
One thing that has helped us SO MUCH is having a Breakfast Schedule and Lunch Schedule.
We've had the same Breakfast Schedule for YEARS and it works amazingly well for us. Everyone knows what to expect, it's economical, and only 1 day each week are we making different breakfasts for each kid.
At the beginning of summer, I sit down with the kids and we discuss Lunch. What kinds of food do we want to have? Is it economical? Is it nutritious? Will it take forever to prepare? Will everyone gripe about it? They give me lots of feedback and we make some compromises.
I'm going to share 1 tip with you right now that will radically change your life.
People will accept mediocrity far more easily if it is paired with variety.
What do I mean by that?
As long as you have a lot of different things that people are eating, they don't have to be awesome. I'm not an amazing cook. But I've discovered with my meal planning and food choices that so long as I give my family a lot of DIFFERENT meals, and don't make them eat the same recipes week after Week after WEEK, they're totally content to eat food that isn't amazing. It's just OK. It's economicaly and nutritious and...decent. It's works on me, too. We never have the same meal more than once a month. Preferably no more than once every 2 or 3 months. Disheroo.com will help you with that. It's a free meal planning website with free meal plans and a completely customizable system. You're in total control. Check it out today!
And here are my Breakfast and Lunch Schedules!
Monday: Buttered Toast and Yogurt
Tuesday: Bagels with Cream Cheese
Thursday: Buttered Toast and Yogurt
Friday: Oatmeal (Quick Oats and Brown Sugar)
Saturday: Pick your own breakfast
Tuesday: Dip Stuff in Hummus (tortilla chips, baby carrots, bell pepper strips, broccoli)
Wednesday: Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
Thursday: Cheese Quesadillas
Saturday: Pick your own lunch
Sunday: Cheese Quesadillas
Have more ideas? Share them with me in the comments!
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