Usually around this time of year I go through a small panic. Summer is around the corner and we haven’t made any plans and WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THE KIDS ALLLLLLL SUMMER? How the heck are we not going to kill each other?!
Then… I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that at the end of every summer I’ve actually loved the time spent together and I’m sad to send the kids back to school. Last summer was a huge exception to our normal routine as we were out of town for our sabbatical most the time, but here are some things we’ve done in the past that have made the summer super fun and enjoyable:
- THE “I’m bored” LIST
I did not come up with this and I can’t remember where I got the idea, but this is the single best summer parenting hack I’ve ever heard of. It’s so simple, and takes only a little bit of preparation. Before summer hits, make a list and write it of all the things the kids could do to entertain themselves at home over the summer. Write it on a posterboard and leave it somewhere the kids can easily refer to it. Some examples are: read a book, shoot hoops, make a scavenger hunt, paint, make a fort…
Any time your kids tell you they are bored, you point them to the list. I can’t tell you how helpful this was for me! By the end of the summer, my two older ones were skipping the step of complaining to me and going straight to the board, finding something to do on their own and then doing it! It made the times we were at home so much more enjoyable.
- Make a (loose) Schedule
Like many people I know, one of the things I love about summer is not having the full schedule we have during the school year. However, I’ve found that kids (and adults for that matter) crave a little routine.
Rather than the kids incessantly asking me what they were going to be doing each day, I created general schedule (a very flexible one) so that they would know the deal. Some people hate routines and if you are one of those people, you can just write this off, but for me (and especially for my first born who likes to feel in control), it was super helpful. My favorite part of having the routine written down was my kids stopped going into the pantry and asking me for food all day long (please tell me I’m not alone on this issue) and instead waited until they knew it was time.
Just like the “I’m Bored” list, I wrote the schedule on a poster board so they knew how the days would generally go and so I could point them to the board when they asked me about when we were going to do something. Of course there were lots of days we completely threw off the schedule because it’s summer time and who cares, but for the days when we were home and had less going on, I found it to be so useful.
- Plan Quiet Time in Your Days
Our kids tend to get on each other’s nerves when they’ve spent too much time together, especially in the summer when we are together all day long, and then the fighting begins. Taking an hour a day of quiet time apart from each other to just have a restful, quiet space allowed them some room and eased the fighting a bit. Quiet time did wonders for my one introvert son who is always trying to pull away to get a little space for himself. And let’s be honest, the quiet time was amazing for me too! I used the time to read or re-center myself, which helped me be a more patient mom the rest of the day. Since I had a little one who napped, I simply scheduled the Quiet Time during his nap, but you could do it whenever.
I’ve noticed this is the go-to for most parents (at least in Orange County), but this can obviously get expensive quickly, especially with multiple kids. I’m not sure if we will do one this year or not, but it is a great way to break up the summer. Groupon actually has some great deals for camps
(check this one out if you’re in Orange County and your kids like the beach:https://www.groupon.com/deals/california-junior-lifeguard-programs-inc-2 )
5. Don’t Go it Alone
Finally, team up with other friends and parents. If your church or community center plans play-dates or activities, jump on those things! Make plans with friends to meet at the beach or park. Switch it up and plan day trips to nearby cities and look up fun, free things to do in your local area and then make plans with other parents to do those things together! Many cities have Concerts in the Park or other novel, inexpensive activities. A little adult company always makes it more fun when doing kid activities. Finally, switch off taking your friend’s kids for a day or even a few hours to give her a break and then let her take yours.
It takes a village!
Ok, now that I’ve written this all out, I’m actually feeling excited for summer! Let the beach and pool days begin! We would love to hear how you survive summer and keep it fun!