It’s coming! The Summer is coming and the children will be home.
I know you are imagining glorious sunshine and carefree days. You’re conjuring images of children’s laughter while playing in the backyard, picnics and BBQ’s, vacations complete with gorgeous photogenic scenes, and creating lasting memories over ice-cold beverages and refreshing summertime cuisine.
I see you smiling… I can’t wait either!
I know that you are super busy with everything going on and the end-of-year hoopla but there is something that I need to tell you. In order for us to create this summer’s much-anticipated nostalgia, we need to take some time to plan.
There is that word again “plan.” I know it may not be what you want to do right now, but having a plan gives us some direction and accountability. If planning for the summer seems daunting, that’s okay… I’m happy to say that I’m here to help!
Let’s get started by preparing ourselves, the children, and creating a schedule that fits your family’s goals for the summer…here we go!
There are a few things that we need to consider in order to set the tone for our summer break with the children. The first is our own emotional disposition. We have to maintain optimism and exude love and kindness in the coming months.
As you know, it can be quite a different scene than the harmonious picture of summer-time with the children as described earlier. There will be intolerable noisy playtimes, skinned knees, sibling rivalry, and the constant repetitive calling of “mom!”
We both know that if we don’t keep laser focused on the kind of summer memories we want to create, it can quickly and easily go in another direction.
So we are going to pray for strength and guidance and peace of mind.
Next, we are going to think about how we want our children to remember their summers growing up. Will they have fond memories of going to the park, eating watermelon on the back patio, and enjoyable campfires complete with smores and plenty of laughter?
Sure they will, because of the planning we are going to put into ensuring those memories. You know, I was reminded by a friend that she remembers having “perfect” fun and carefree summers when she was a child. She said that she realizes now that she is a mother, how much effort her mother put into making sure that their summers felt that way.
How encouraging…right!! Let’s commit to enjoying our children and creating those types of memories for them this summer.
After we’ve prayed and committed to making this the summer the best yet for our families, let’s take a look at what changes may need to occur.
Adjustments in your schedule may include: Wake up times, devotionals, prayer, and bible study, breakfast, household chores, home-business hours, self-care time, shopping and errands, activities with the children, evening routine, and family vacations.
Preparing The Children
Children are very well adapted to structure and scheduling. In school, they do everything at a certain time and there is a rhythm to their day. I know that I’m mentioning the obvious but hang in there because I have a reason for it.
Many times, we want our children to have a break from all of that structure and routine and really embrace the meaning of being care-free. However, a carefree summer to a child simply means FUN. It doesn’t mean freedom to run wild and do whatever they want.
Children like to know what to expect and they enjoy structure. It helps them to feel empowered, and we certainly want that.
With that said, I think it’s a good idea to start talking to the kiddos about what they would like to do this summer. Have them write out a short bucket list so that you can get an idea of how they envision their vacation.
Compile a master list of activities from all of the children’s list that fit into the family budget and schedule. You can use this list to guide the family’s outings and vacation schedule.
Next, talk with the kiddos about the schedule changes and what they can expect.
My family has a pretty simple summer schedule. We use it every year so my children are aware of the time shifts. We actually use it for all vacation times or when they are out of school. It looks like this:
They get an extra hour of sleep in the morning, and they can stay up one extra hour in the evening. So normally they get up at 6:00 am, on breaks/vacations they wake up at 7:00 am instead. Also, breakfast is always at 8:00 am, lunch at 12noon, and dinner no later than 6:30 (except on special occasions). So this is our basic framework, and we all agreed upon this system years ago during a family meeting, and it still works for us.
Talk with the children about what to expect. You may want to create a master calendar or personal calendars for them to keep track of what activities you’ve decided upon, what times of day certain activities will take place.
Here are a few schedule changes that you may want to consider if you don’t already have a standing schedule for summer vacations.
Adjustments in the children’s schedules may include: Wake up times, meal times, prayer and devotionals, activities with the children, free-time, camps, outings, night-time routines and bed-times, family vacations, and any extra-curricular activities your child may be involved in over the summer.
Preparing Our Schedule
There are three main areas to consider when developing your summertime schedule. Vacations and outing, meal planning, and activities.
(Of course, all of these things must be included when budgeting)
Vacations and Outings. Create a realistic list of the places that you’d like to go as a family that includes vacations, staycations, and/or smaller outings such as taking the children to the museum, local park, zoo, or beach.
Consider what you will need for each outing such as the cost of hotel stays, transportation, activities, admission and parking fees, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.
This planning will more than likely be happening with your spouse and/or children, so I won’t babble on here about it. However, I do want to mention summer clothing for the family under this heading just as a reminder. These expenses can easily be overlooked for vacations and outings, but also for the summer season in general.
Once your outings and vacations have been decided upon, you can go ahead and plug them into your calendar, as well as create your shopping list for supplies and clothing needed for each of your adventures.
Activities and Crafts. Coming up with activities for the summer months can be overwhelming. Trying to find activities for the children to engage in that are fun (and help to retain skills learned the previous year), can be a challenge. One thing I like to do is to follow a theme for the summer to help with activity ideas and to provide a sense of cohesiveness.
A theme can be anything that may interest the children such as a carnival theme, nature theme; for example rainforests or deserts, animals; examples like marine life or mammals, historical themes such as the Renaissance period or Victorian. Following a theme can provide you with a slew of ideas for books, crafts, art, and even cuisine.
Is there a theme that you’d like to follow during the summer to continue your child’s learning?
For my family, I like to use the summer for cultural-awareness learning activities. They are always fun and the kids have a blast creating costumes, and scenery to follow our theme.
This summer is all about France! We’ll enjoy preparing French cuisines together, immersing in the language, learning about art and architecture, famous places, and government, right from the comfort of our home.
We create crafts around the theme and have even built miniature models of attractions and landmarks out of boxes. You can create flags, costumes, and replica artwork to keep the fun going all summer.
In addition to crafts, language is a big part of a culture. We use a great app for learning new languages. It’s called Duolingo. It has an extensive list of languages to choose from and is interactive. It uses fun activities to help embed the language for the learner. The best part is that it is FREE!
If themes are not your thing, there are tons of other ways to plan activities for your summer fun. Enjoy simple activities such as water balloon fights, building forts, summer sports, and simply playing outdoors.
Pull a few ideas from the master bucket-list and purchase the items you need ahead of time so that you are prepared and plan out a few of the more expensive or complicated activities to sprinkle throughout the coming weeks.
Whatever you decide to plan for your activities and summer crafts, keep in mind that balancing structured activities along with free-play is ideal.
Meal Planning. Another consideration that needs to be made for summer with the kids is meal planning and the awareness of a possible increase in food costs.
When I was a young mother, the cost of groceries would always take me by surprise in the summer. I felt like I was constantly at the market and constantly broke!
Meal planning is one way you can prevent those types of surprises.
You may want to create a meal plan that includes breakfast, morning snack, lunch, mid-day snack, and dinner.
I normally plan for 2-3 breakfast and lunch types for the week. An example would be cereal, pancakes, and smoothies for breakfast. For lunch, it may be PB&J’s, grilled cheese, and dinner leftovers. I simply rotate those three items for the week to cut down on waste and cost.
I like to keep a menu up in my kitchen so that everyone knows what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If I don’t I’ll be constantly asked “what’s for lunch? or what’s for dinner?” This also helps me to be prepared for all of my meals for the day.
Now that my children are a bit older, they are able to prepare some of their own meals. This is a huge help and saves me some valuable time, but it helps to have the menu up to guide them as well.
Keeping things simple and enjoyable for summer is our goal!
Bringing It All Together
Now that we have an idea of all of the considerations that need to be made, let’s get started with how to bring this all together.
First, we’ll need to create a schedule. I normally use a regular old planner for my day-to-day affairs, but I like to have a master schedule that I use for reference and for my children to keep posted up in their space.
If you’d like this one, go ahead and click on it to download it for your home.
This type of daily schedule helps us to outline our regular timeframe and activities. You can laminate it and keep it in a community area for everyone to reference.
Next, you may consider getting everyone’s input on meals that they’d like to see added to the menu. You can do this during a family meeting or gathered around the table at mealtime. Jot down everyone’s ideas and add them to the menu.
Now, you should have the basic daily schedule decided upon, an activities list created, and the menu plan. From this information, you’ll be able to decipher all the supplies that you need on a weekly, bi-weekly, and/or monthly basis.
I personally prefer operating from a weekly schedule simply because shopping weekly helps to keep down on waste. It also helps me keep a better eye on what we need so that I can keep our home properly stocked with needed supplies.
Peace of mind… it’s all about peace of mind!!
Here’s a colorful little template for jotting down your weekly schedule if you’re in the market for one. I hope it helps.
We can create those perfect nostalgic family summers that our children can look back on with fond memories.
Starting with our own mindset and a little optimism, we can commit to planning our summer activities, meals, and needed supplies for a stress-free experience.
In addition, I realize that the process of creating and sticking to our game plan can be stressful in itself. However, remembering to give ourselves grace when we can’t stick to the schedule is just as important as having one. We want to use our plan as a guideline and nothing more. It can always be tweaked, altered, or simply thrown out if it is not working for you or your family.
It is my earnest prayer that you and your family have a wonderfully memorable summer this year.
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Blessings, and Happy Homemaking!