What is your initial reaction to summer? I have two:
#1: AHHHHHHH! Yes! We can finally slow down. I get the kids home more. We can sleep in a bit, relax a bit, and just have fun.
#2: AHHHHHHH! How am I going to do this? How am I going to entertain and manage all these kids all day, everyday?!?! I’m going to lose it!!
I tend to fluctuate between the two emotions daily and reaction #2 usually leads to me locked away in the pantry, eating m&ms. (I have a secret shelf no one under 4 1/2 feet can reach. It’s a mothering necessity.)
But overall, I really love summer. The slowness of the days, the outside play- it’s the kind of stuff that childhood is made for. I want my kids to relish and enjoy their summers in a toes in the sand, popsicle melting on sticky fingers kind of way.
This kind of summer cannot happen in front of a screen.
There isn’t any secret dirt-licking or sprinkler-running or friendship-making. Just mind-numbing zombieness.
So how can we create a summer that is magical, mostly screen-free AND keep ourselves sane?
Planning, my friend. Planning.
Luckily for us, there are millions of ideas out there for planning a great summer (search for it on Pinterest. You’ll be busy for hours.) Here are a few of my favorites:
- Set up a daily schedule. Create a general outline to follow everyday. This way your kids will know what to expect, and you won’t let things like daily reading fall by the wayside. And importantly, electronic time will be scheduled, with a well-defined time frame. Print it out and post it on the fridge.
- Set up a weekly schedule. A common theme floating around the internet is scheduling a different activity every weekday morning- Make a Craft Monday, LEGO Tuesday, Water Activities Wednesday, Field Trip Thursday, Service Friday. You could create any sort of theme you want. I’ve even seen some moms schedule certain days for playing with friends, but keep other days for just family activities. Create a plan around what YOU want to have happen with your family. (You better believe I’m going to plan one entire morning for trips to the library.)
- What if you also set up a weekly theme? For one whole week, you could take a teddy bear everywhere you go and document his adventures. The next week could be all about nature. Go to as many outside places that you can and make a “nature collection”. Or a LEGO week or a READ-A-THON week or science week or service week. Once you get thinking, I’ll bet your ideas come quickly. Cater it to your family.
- One of my favorite summer activities was planning a mini summer camp with a neighbor friend. The camp was for one week. I took Monday and Wednesday, she took Tuesday and Thursday. On our days, we were responsible for a two hour activity. They ranged from sponge-ball making and water games to homemade play-dough. Friday we took big field trip to a nearby park. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! My kids had a blast and I got a bit of a break. Win-win.
- Summer Bucket Lists are amazing. Take one night with your family and have everyone write down 5 things they want to do this summer. And they don’t all need to be big. Sometimes the smallest activities are the most memorable. Our favorites have been watching a sunset in the park, dipping toes in cold creek water and learning how to make amazing milkshakes.
To start your planning, I created a little visual for you (because that’s how my brain works). Feel free to pull out a piece of paper and jot down your thoughts.
It starts with writing down your most important goals this summer. Maybe it’s an increased closeness with your family, working on your son’s reading skills or just simply getting your nine year old to finally learn how to ride a bike (yep, that’s one of ours).
The questions then help you analyze last summer and decide how to improve. And finally… map out all your plans!!!
One last thing I want to mention. Do you have any goals just for you? Summer is not just a time to cater to everyone else’s needs. It can be a time of growth for you, too. Be sure to take some time to do something you love. I am signed up for a bike ride with a great friend and I’m also planning on hiring my oldest daughter as a “mother’s helper” a few times a week so I can read and create on this blog. What about you?
Bring on summer!