Do you or your family dream of having a wide-open summer with no plans? But wait, your summer activities need to include:
- swim/soccer/baseball/band practices
- service hours
- reading programs
- time with friends and play dates
- family vacation/cookouts/camping
- DIY projects
- Vacation Bible School
- And being outside 24/7
Add to this the fact that school starts back a mere two months from now. Soon you feel like throwing in the towel on any kind of rest or sanity for Mom with this much activity.
Just Say No
Practice saying no or at least practice saying let me get back to you on that. Whether you are saying no to your kids or to all the people/activities you will be bombarded with over the few short months of summer, protect your schedule and your sanity. Set boundaries ahead of time for what time you want to have free and do not schedule every minute of the day.
Set Your Priorities Now For Your Summer Activities
Before summer arrives, daydream and brainstorm about how you would like your ideal summer to look and play out. Kids grow up so fast and you want to make the most of the time you have together.
Plan what works for your family and what makes YOUR family happy. (Also, teach your kids to say let me check rather than saying yes to everything – which they will if you let them.)
Set Expectations and Parameters with Your Kids
Establish from the beginning your expectations for this summer with the items your family values being scheduled first. You need to have at least a rough plan of what you would like to do over the summer or where you would like to go and spend your time.
What would a successful summer look like to you and your family? You can set expectations regarding:
- Reading Time
- Educational Activities
- Extra-Curricular Activities
- Time with Friends
- Screen Time
- Play and Fun
Get Input from Your Kids on What They Would Like to Do Too
This is their summer break after all. What would they most like to do? You can have your kids make a summer bucket list and then ask them what their top 10 items would be off the list. What will make them feel like their summer break was a break and a rest period?
You may need to coach them a bit on the value of being bored (which can breed creativity) and recharging by just doing nothing and relaxing. My kids always surprise me by the things that most make it feel like a fun summer to them (especially the free things like going to the library and catching lightning bugs).
Remember You are in Control of the Schedule
You want to get your kids and spouse’s input, but you are the one in charge. What works best for you too? How can you schedule your day to have quality time with your kids but also leave some energy for work and other things you need to accomplish? Because just because they are on break – doesn’t mean all of your outside the home responsibilities stop. (Wouldn’t that be lovely if they did?)
Plan Down Time
The most important tip is to not over-schedule your summer! An excellent recipe for sheer misery on your part and theirs is to plan every minute. Have hours each day and days each week where you have nothing planned ahead of time except for them to rest.
By allowing time and space for them to get bored and therefore rediscover aspects of themselves they thought they left behind (I still like to draw/write/paint!), you are giving them a gift. You also want to allow room for the unexpected things they might be really interested in this year as opposed to last, because kids are always changing and their interests change right along with them.
Automate What You Can Ahead of Time
Put on auto-pilot now, the things you know you are going to hear about like – food. Create a written list of the items they can have for breakfast and lunch and if possible, have it grab and go kinds of options they can make for themselves. This way they aren’t anticipating going out to eat every day. It’s summer break, not a budget free-for-all.
Help Kids Express Their Creativity
Kids are typically so hyper scheduled at school because of standardized testing and course demands, they don’t have a lot of time to feed their creativity. You can ask your kids if there is a particular project or something new they would like to work on or try over the summer. Maybe, there is an online source for more info rather than them having to go to a class too.
Being Outside and Active
Having your kids (and you) outside as much as possible is a good thing. We all spend so much time tethered to our various phones, tablets, and computers that any time spent out in nature is particularly healing for us. (For more on this, see the post “Being in Nature – Away from the Things of Man.”)
There are plenty of options for fun things they can do outside and once they get started hopefully they will forget all about the latest popular video game. Experiment and encourage them to spend time outside creating their own brand of fun.
Sketch Your summer Activities Schedule Out in Pencil
When all is said and done, you need to sit down with a pencil and paper and sketch out your tentative schedule for the summer. Remember to put all of your dreams, their bucket list items, and any other must do items (including relax time) on their first. Then, add in the other items and prioritize as needed.
Once you are happy with the schedule, have a quick meeting with the rest of the family and get their buy-in for the best summer ever. Then, make it for real using Google Calendar or your favorite calendar program and print it out where everyone can see the plan.
Tip – If you are lacking ideas for summer activities your family wants to do, here is a great resource to get you started from Fun, Cheap or Free: 100 Summer Activities for Kids.
You deserve a big pat on the back for tackling this massive endeavor, Mom! You are guiding your family to a summer that is all about your family’s priorities and not someone else’s. Bravo and enjoy your precious time with your family.
What are your favorite ways to spend quality time with your family? Share in the comments below – we can all use some inspiration in this area. Thank you!
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