mindful living, effortless style

Making a mindful summer schedule - post has some great tips on how to customize this for your family

POYEL: Summer Schedule

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:


Making a mindful summer schedule - post has some great tips on how to customize this for your family


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.


How to set up a mindful summer schedule with your kids
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…

Camp mom activities eBook

Our Camp Mom activities eBook is once again available for sale for a limited time only.

It’s an 84 page PDF from my all-time favorite play bloggers, and myself, stuffed with activities, reading lists, and advice for kicking back and connecting with your kids this summer.

Learn more and get your copy here.



P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time so you can connect with your family? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Check out our "Save Your Spring" bundle: over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more PLUS 84 pages of kid activities perfect for spring break!

Over 50 pages of organizational gold


2) Sign up for our newsletter:

sign up for the newsletter and get a free 6 week meal plan


3) Bookmark our famous Gift Guides for the next time you need the perfect kids' gift! (350+ detailed descriptions including age recommendations)

Our infamous kids' gift guides

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tansy Dolls June 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Great post! I’ll have to do just that. My summer this year is going to be particularly busy since I started an internship, am doing research, and taking a reading and conference for my doctoral program. In between that I need to fit playdates, summer adventures, and downtime. I’ll have to make some time today to make out a schedule to make sure nothing gets left out!


iheartorganizing June 26, 2012 at 2:19 am

Thanks so much for sharing the printable! :) Such a lovely surprise to see it featured at one of my favorite blogs!



Mama Pea Pod June 26, 2012 at 3:48 am

I had great plans to have a productive summer schedule, but somewhere along the way it’s all fallen apart. Thanks for this reminder to get back on track.


Heather@ Creative Family Moments June 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I completely relate to the excerpt posted. I was really struggling until I spoke to a mom of 7 children and she gave me an idea that helped me have a very basic structure by week, based on theme. It’s turned our summer around!


Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm

This only works if you don’t have to work a full week. I wish I could have a sitter for a couple hours a day and work from home. My schedule involves dropping kids off and picking up from camp and maybe getting a bit of family time in between dinner and bed. Enjoy your summer!


A October 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm

With our munchkins a bit older than yours, we sit down and bang out a goal sheet for the summer/year. This way, whenever they are home from a camp or project, they can look at their own personal goals and work toward them. Some of them have included creating a stop motion lego video, hike a local waterfall, build a dangerous bike ramp, prep for the SAT… all at their own pace and without any “mom I’m bored” comments.


Trudi Spork June 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm

oh and it okay to have a sitter if you just want down time for yourself!!!


Katie June 5, 2015 at 1:18 pm

I used to have a daily schedule like this when my kids are younger. I’ve been worrying about the structure of our summer, and it sounds like creating a basic schedule would be helpful. Maybe more for me than the kids! :-)


Leave a Comment