Ah, summer. I look forward to summer maybe even more than my kids. I’m the type of person who enjoys a morning workout by walking through my neighborhood, followed by a trip to the pool, finishing the day with popsicles on the porch.
I don’t enjoy the rush rush rush of the school year, extracurricular activities, and packed calendars.
All of that being said, by the time July 1st rolls around, my kids are starting to go crazy and so am I. We thrive on routine. If you don’t think your kids are that way, I’m willing to bet they do better when life is predictable. Even if you think you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants parent, even that behavior can be predictable for your kids.
Most kids can enjoy having no routine – for a short period of time. So by July 1st, they’ve hit their limit of having nothing to do each day.
Each summer, I create a new (summer) routine for them. For my four year old, I make his routine and keep him on schedule. My eleven year old was given the guidelines I use, then she drafted her own schedule and we reviewed it together. My fourteen year old is a go-getter and had already noticed her need for routine. She started mapping out what her days would look like. We discussed it and she has a couple of holes/blind spots that I’m helping her work through to make it work, but for the most part she did it on her own.
If your kids are bored, roaming around the house aimlessly, or driving you crazy, a schedule might be a good idea. Below are my guidelines for developing a summer schedule.
Pockets of Time
Each day has pockets of time blocks lasting about 90 minutes, give or take. If you break those down, you’ll likely end up with the following:
- Early Morning
- Mid/Late Morning
- Early Afternoon
- Late Afternoon
Think about your kids and what you like to do during these times of the day. When do you prefer to exercise? Are naps a factor? When is the best time for appointments or running errands? If your kids go to daycare or camp, you can block out several of these times of day and plan out what will happen when you’re back home.
Working parents don’t have as much time at home, but even discussing having a summer schedule, goals, and putting together a plan as a family can be beneficial. If you work and older kids are at home all day, a schedule is a great way for them to feel productive and good about themselves.
Each day should include a variety of activities. Below is the list I use to guide our schedule of what we do when. Not everything happens each day, but when I’m looking at scheduling something, I can plug it into these parameters.
- Learning – this can be school review, but can also include learning a new skill. Learning to ride a two wheeler, play an instrument, practice a sport, or play a new game. Anything that involves teaching your kids something new (or practicing something they’ve been learning) counts as this learning time.
- Personal Care – bathing takes time no matter how old your kids are. Make sure you allow for time each day for the bath/shower. This also includes doctor’s appointments and the like.
- Exercise – daily exercise for yourself and your kids is a must. It helps them sleep, stay healthy, and is really fun in the summertime! Turn on the sprinkler and sprint back and forth through the yard. Ride bikes, walk the dog, play basketball, go on a hike, there are so many options!
- Housework – this includes time for laundry and doing dishes, as well as scrubbing toilets and countertops. Involve your kids in this, especially if they’re older. They need to learn these skills! This time also includes household errands.
- Helping Others – this can be service projects outside your home, but it can be something as simple as your older kids helping YOU by watching their younger siblings, or helping out a neighbor. Other ideas are helping grandparents with chores or doing something nice for a friend. It doesn’t have to be huge, but this reinforces the idea that we’re here to help each other, not just ourselves.
- FUN – make sure you have fun with your kids during their break from school. We only get 18 summers with them and before you know it, they’ll be gone. Try something new, visit a new park, go to the zoo, be silly, get creative! Kids love it when their parents are goofy and fun (as long as friends are not around).
- Friends – it’s important for your kids to build relationships outside of school. Put this on your calendar and ask your kids each week who they’d like to get together with. When you’re planning an outing, invite a friend along once in a while.
Make It Work For You
Take your time slots and begin plugging in the activities where they make sense. Don’t be super strict about this. You don’t have to stop playing at 11:30 just because your schedule says it’s time for lunch. It’s more of a fluid, flexible schedule.
There’s also no rule that says you can’t put multiple activities in the same time block. You can do housework for an hour then squeeze in some learning in the mid/late morning time frame.
Plus, since it’s yours, you have the right to modify it as you see fit. If you normally do personal care in the evenings but you have a hair appointment one morning, just move things around.
You don’t have to do all the things each day. This is meant to help you and your kids, after all. If something isn’t working, then you’re smart enough to modify your plan until it achieves the desired outcome.
Here’s an example of one of our summer schedules to give you an idea of what the finished product can look like.
Early Morning – Housework (tidying up), learning for me
Mid/Late Morning – Exercise, Personal Care (appointments) or Friends
Lunch – Learning after or while we eat lunch
Early Afternoon – Housework (errands with the kids)
Late Afternoon – Fun time and helping others
Evening – Exercise, Personal Care (baths for kids), Helping Others