Taming the Summer Days
Tips & Tricks to Make the Most of Your Time When the Kids Are Home
At the end of each school year, children and parents eagerly await the last bell. We envision a summer filled with leisurely schedules, endless play days, and relaxing by the pool or beach.
It’s easy to overlook how hectic summer can be. It can be chaotic and sometimes unenjoyable if you overthink the three-month adventure, but it does not have to be. While planning activities for the season sounds fun, it can become taxing. The initial excitement can fade, being replaced with a sense of dread. Here are some tips and tricks to help everyone survive the summer months and make the most out of your time together.
Don’t bend on bedtimes…seriously.
In the summer, this can be a challenge. As the sun sets later, kids play outside longer, it becomes all too simple to let this slide. But knowing that kiddos (and parents) thrive on consistency, everyone deserves a nighttime respite. This can add a little structure to an oftentimes unstructured day. Choose a summer bedtime, maybe an hour later than the school year, and adhere to it. Of course, this won’t happen every night. But try to get the kids to bed at that time more often than not.
Wake up! No really, wake up.
During summertime, it can be tempting to sleep in and be lazy. While it’s okay to do this occasionally, it’s beneficial to establish a consistent wake-up time. This will improve everyone’s mood and help your family establish a fun summer routine. Create morning rituals like pancakes on Monday, a morning walk to the park, chores on Tuesday before the pool, 30 minutes of reading, or summer work. Make a fun chart or sign for everyone to see what’s on tap for the day.
Don’t OVER schedule.
Parents are notorious for overbooking their summers and then spending the days stressed while attempting to keep up. Summers can often seem even busier than the school year. Every day does not have to be a “vacation” or an adventure. Sometimes the best days are chilled and relaxed.
Make those memories.
It’s important to make time for memorable activities. Involve your kids in the planning process, considering both big and small ideas. To make it easier for you and your kids to get out of the house or take a quick break between errands, keep a list of affordable or even free places that you all enjoy. This can include favorite playgrounds, hiking trails, river/lake access points, patio restaurants, splash pads, and local libraries or bookstores. And take lots of pictures!
Quiet time is not just for napping.
Dealing with irritable and bored children is not fun. Quiet time can work wonders in these situations, especially on those super-hot days when outside play may be limited. Let everyone selects a screen-free activity and a separate location within the house, while a timer is set for 20 to 60 minutes. This quiet time is an effective technique for resetting and rejuvenating.
Pick your battles.
This can be a little challenging, but try to unwind throughout the summer and savor the time you are spending as a family. We all overindulge in ice cream and popsicles, the house gets messier, the kids grow dirtier, and things don’t always go as planned. But it’s okay! Try to maintain order in your life, but let the rest go and embrace the chaos and excitement of summer.
Many hands make light…
The house is a little fuller during the summer months, which makes the house a little messier. It is not fair for parents to shoulder the burden of constant cleanup. Encourage kids to help with basic chores. You can even create a chore chart to include making their bed, feeding any animals, loading/emptying the dishwasher, and taking out the trash.
To maintain your sanity (and food budget) during summer, try to establish a kitchen schedule. Otherwise, your kids might end up eating you out of house and home. Establish snack times, perhaps even set up snack stations for easy (but controlled) access, eat meals at consistent times, and let everyone know when the kitchen is closed.
Incorporate a few basic learning activities.
Summer can still include learning time. Most schools send home summer reading lists and bridge books that help prepare kiddos for their upcoming school year. You can create simple worksheets or flashcards, tune into YouTube art lessons, or create mini-science projects to enjoy.
Make time for yourself.
As you plan for the summer, don’t forget to schedule a mid-week escape (think girl’s night out), and remember to make time for date night. Hold these dates sacred and don’t let a lack of babysitter cause you to cancel. In a pinch, prepare a list of family-friendly spots where you can enjoy time with other adults while the kids have fun in a nearby playground or sandbox.
As quickly as summer comes upon us, remember that it won’t last forever. Soon enough, it will be time to get back to the daily routine of school days. Be sure to take pleasure in both the small and big moments and give yourself time to unwind. To all the Moms and Dads out there, enjoy your summer!