Now that summer has officially arrived, are you prepared for it? While most of us hope our summers will be filled with long days languishing in the sun, the reality can often be quite different.
Since my kids are still small, I’ve yet to experience the abrupt change of pace that can accompany school being out for the year. This post from the New York Time’s Motherlode blog has opened my eyes a bit as to what awaits me:
“the need to suddenly create and manage a different structure for family life is as oppressive as a string of 90-degree days. I know children spending weeks with grandparents, weeks at day and sleep-away camp, children at home with a mother’s helper, children in summer school, and children who (like mine) will spend their summer hopping from one to another of these varying activities, meaning that every week presents a new opportunity to sort out and screw up a new schedule of pickups and drop-offs and lunches and hats and sunscreen and but-wait-today-we-were-supposed-to-bring-water-shoes.“
If you’re wondering how you’re going to navigate the summer, you may want to consider throwing together a general family schedule.
Finding a way to occupy the kids all summer will be challenging, especially if both parents work. Unfortunately, I’m not the woman to ask about how to handle that particular predicament (although my parents somehow managed it every summer for both my sister and I). But even parents who are lucky enough to be home with their children may be at a bit of a loss as to what to do with them. I know I’ve found the loss of preschool two mornings a week to be a bit unsettling.
By summer schedule, I’m not talking about jamming your day with summer camps and swim lessons – just the opposite, in fact. On the days when it’s possible, I think it’s vital for children to be allowed plenty of free time to explore, especially outside, and stretch their imaginations. By taking a little time to sketch out a general tempo for your days, you’ll be much more likely to spend them in a mindful manner.
To create our summer schedule, I began with a pen and piece of notebook paper. On the paper I made three columns: things that need to be done, general experiences and activities I’d like to provide for the kids, and activities I’d personally like to pursue this summer. The next step was to break up our daily schedule into chunks of time (morning, lunch, naptime, etc.).
The last step was to take everything from my columns and use them to fill in our schedule. Here’s how it turned out:
This is, of course, only a general (and optimistic) outline of our days. In putting together our three columns, I found that outdoor time and creative time are what I most want to focus on with the kids this summer. Also, C is becoming more and more fond of cooking so I wanted to work that into our one-on-one time. With that in mind, I set aside the mornings for being active.
After lunch we have about 45 minutes for creative pursuits before S heads off to her nap. What C and I do while S is asleep will ideally vary. If we’re really into an art project, we’ll keep on. Other days we may work on prepping dinner or, if it’s a really good day, even get an organizational project accomplished.
Mondays – Thursdays I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful sitter that comes to the house to watch the kids. She does a fantastic job of getting them outside, often to a nearby park, while I work away in the office. After that it’s dinner, baths, and a little down time before the kids head off to bed.
I have to be honest here and say that, so far, the last three hours of this plan are only wishful thinking. I am bound and determined to strike a better work/life balance this summer, mainly by no longer blogging into the wee hours of the night and taking the evenings to get things done and center a bit instead.
If you want to make your schedule extra pretty, my friend Jen has this fun free printable. And just so you know I have no preconceived notions that unstructured summers are perfect, check out Amy’s experience (as well as her tips).
What do you all think? Is it worth it for your families to create a summer schedule? How do you go about it?
This post is part of MPMK’s “Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life”. You can read all about it here, check out all of our projects here, and join thousands of POYEL facebook group members here.
For even more help keeping the kids busy this summer, don’t forget…