It’s hard to believe that summer vacation is around the corner. As much as I love having the kids home more, and not having numerous school activities and homework to balance, I also dread the inevitable boredom and fighting that is bound to happen. Thankfully, I can minimize that by organizing a summer schedule. Having a daily routine helps the kids to pass the time and reduces anxiety and questions about what we’re going to do today. Creating a summer schedule is also a great way to reduce your stress and your kids boredom during summer break.
Create your family’s summer schedule using these ideas:
1. Decide what time you want everyone to be up and out of bed. For our family, that is 8:00 am on weekdays and 10 am on weekends (for the teenagers sake–the young kids are always up by 8 am). Some kids might protest waking up “early” for awhile, but even my teenager has told me that she feels she has wasted half the day if she wakes up past 9 or 10. She likes getting chores done in the morning and having the rest of the day free.
2. Set a time that the kids need to have started their chores. In our house, that’s 9:30am. That gives them over an hour to eat breakfast, get dressed, and relax. All chores must be done before they have screen time or play with friends, so they may choose to get started on their chores earlier if they want to be done sooner.
3. Use a job chart with a set list of chores or use a job jar to make it more fun and give variety. My younger kids especially like using a job jar that has about 20 different small jobs in it that they can do around the house. These are jobs that work for most kids ages 5-12, such as sweeping the kitchen, doing the clean (or dirty) dishes, cleaning a bathroom sink and mirror, vacuuming the living room and hall, etc. My kids ages 5-7 chose 1 job, 8-12 year olds chose 2 jobs. The younger kids will likely need help from me to learn how to do their job and it may be exchanged for an easier one when needed. All of the kids also have to make their bed and pick up their clothes off their floor. This post “Make Kids Chores Fun with a Job Jar” makes it easy to create a job jar, with a printable list of jobs and a label for your jar.
My teenagers have a weekly chart with laundry day twice a week (they do their own laundry), a clean their bathroom day, yard work day, and a mom’s choice day, where I choose other chores that I need help with. On Saturdays, all of the kids are expected to do a thorough room cleaning, picking up trash, dishes, clothes, vacuuming, and changing sheets (every other week). Toddlers and preschoolers help pick up toys, make their beds, take the garbage out, and other simple tasks.
4. Schedule learning time, especially for elementary age kids. I have them do 20-30 minutes of educational learning activities (math, language arts, science, or social studies) and 30 minutes of reading. If you have a child that dawdles and doesn’t get much done during 30 minutes, give them a page or two to complete instead of timing them. Then they can work however long it takes for them to complete it. I like to use educational workbooks like Summer Bridge Activities or Summer Fit (affiliate links) or print off worksheets. Some great places to get free worksheets are schoolexpress.com, scholastic.com, DLTK, classroomjr.com. You can also use online educational games and activities. Some favorites that are teacher recommended are Starfall, mathsisfun.com, Scholastic Interactive Whiteboard Activities, NASA.gov, and The Children’s University.
5. Set limits on recreational screen time (tv, video games, social media). In the past, the recommendation has been to not have screen time more than 2 hours a day, although the American Academy of Pediatrics is modifying that by emphasizing balance and moderation instead of a specific number. http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/06/health/screen-time-rules-change-pediatricians/
6. Have alternate fun activities for the kids to do during the afternoon that are not screen time. Since my kids often come to me saying, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!”, I list ideas out on a chart for them and direct them to find something to do from the chart. Check out this list of ideas with a printable chart 46 Summer Boredom Busters for Kids.
7. Plan family activities to get the kids out of the house. My kids get along so much better when they aren’t stuck at home day in and day out all week long. We have a library day, a park day, and a fun “bigger” activity day. This might be going to the swimming pool, the zoo, hiking, a museum, or visiting grandma and grandpa.
8. Decide on a bedtime and stick to it, with the exception of special holidays and vacations. Toddlers and Preschoolers typically need 11-13 hours of sleep, kids 6-11 years need 9-11 hours, and teens need 8-10 hours. See these articles Children and Sleep and Teens and Sleep. For younger kids that are going to bed before dark, we have found room darkening curtains or blinds to be essential. It can be really hard for them to fall asleep if it’s still light outside.
This routine goes out the window when we are on vacation or for holidays, but overall sticking to a summer schedule helps our kids be happier and makes those summer days less stressful for all. What ideas do you have for a summer schedule for your kids? What do you do?