During the school year, it's easy to find a weekly rhythm revolving around school hours and after-school activities. Summertime, on the other hand, brings so many variables to the table that finding a rhythm or schedule can be more difficult.
As you juggle camps, sports and vacations, here are some ideas for creating a summer schedule that works:
Prioritize ahead of time. What activities are on your must-do list? What are your goals for the summer? Are structured educational opportunities important to you? Lots of time spent with family friends?
Choose carefully before saying yes. Even though summer hasn't begun yet, we've received a number of invitations already. Saying yes to everything that comes up will leave us little time for each other – or to accept impromptu invitations later down the road – so we're evaluating each one carefully.
Plan free days. If your summer is going to be full, make sure you schedule free days when you just stay home and unwind. You'll need the time to recharge and relax, and precious memories can be made when there's nothing on the schedule!
Create routines that work. Summer schedules may be more relaxed or more variable, but routines are still important! Use daily routines such as starting a load of laundry before breakfast or cleaning up before bed to help bring a steadiness to your days. Also be sure to schedule downtime for everyone in your daily routine so you don't get burnt out in the midst of a busy week.
Keep activities and educational activities on hand. Summer time can be especially hard on new readers and young kids who are just mastering certain skills in school because a lot can be forgotten in three months! Keep books, workbooks, educational DVDs and plenty of art supplies on hand as boredom busters and to reinforce the things they've learned during the school year!
Don't forget chores. Summertime is a great time to teach your kids new skills and give them additional chores. Most kids can do more than we give them credit for as long as they have a little help getting started!
Use a reward system. If you're looking for a way to keep kids motivated to do chores and educational activities, try a point system, where they earn points each time they choose an activity from your list. Offer prizes when they reach so many points, but remember that prizes don't have to be money or more toys; they can be things like an ice cream date with dad, a chance to stay up late with mom or a special family outing.
Whether you prefer a full summer or a laid-back summer, take time to think through your routines and schedules so that you can make the most of that time!