We’re in full on summer mode now in the Tucker household but this took some doing. School ending doesn’t automatically get us into summer mode. I don’t know about your household, but for us, there is a period of a couple weeks where we all “shift”. It seems we all need a week to just decompress, and then one to get more organized into our new routine. After a few days of chilling, my kids are that much more excited to start “planning” our summer together.
For me, a mom that does NOT come by organization easily, summer planning is important. Here are the things we do to make for a more fun (i.e. less stressful) summer. These depend largely on the ages of your kids:
For your school aged kids set up expectations around the follow (or anything you find yourself nagging them about on a near daily basis as you move into summer!) Do this WITH them so you have their buy in.
1) Wake up and bed times
2) Screen times
3) Chores if different than during the school year. Maybe they take on something extra like dog walking. Charts are key.
4) Activities. Ritual is the key. Have things you do daily. Weekly. One of our readers says, “Take a a trip everyday! And make it early. Even if its going to the grocery store or the park. Some days it will be the zoo or museum. We have a standing 11am departure time everyday. It eliminates the “lay around the house” effect summer always brings.”
Plan. Plan. Plan. Make a three month calendar and post it where all can see. I use goggle calendar and love it for the repeating options and my ability to keep separate calendar themes on the same calendar. Every different theme can have it’s own color. Examples of different things to track on different calendar colors include camps, sitters, husband’s work things, my work, our couple and family social plans, etc.
Search online for FREE planned events in your home town. I live in St. Louis and after goggling “family fun st. Louis” found these ideas. Botanical Gardens has music every Wed night and free entry to the Children’s Garden Wednesday’s after 5pm.
The History Museum has an AMAZING Free Family Fun Series of activities in June and July on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 10:30am! This series combines special guests, storytelling, and hands-on arts and crafts projects.
The local library! We found reading contests, book clubs, story times and more.
A local mom’s group online that plans live events. I’m the organizer of My Mommy Meetup here in St. Louis which has over 520 moms of kids 0-5. We plan things like coffee’s, art in the park, playground play dates, stroller walks, Girl’s Night Outs and more. Search here for one in your area. Meetup is a great way to connect with other moms in your area especially if you are new to town or have little ones.
Leave big pockets of open time for kids to get bored and create there own fun. I posted a list of activities we created, modified from the full list I found on discoverfun.com. These are the ideas I thought were actually do-able and didn’t cost much, with ones like “ride in a hot air balloon” removed.
You and your kids can print, cut and throw these ideas in a jar. Have them pick one the next time they complain about being bored. Encourage your kids to create their own ideas as well. Some creative ideas my kids came up with are:
1) Board Game Olympics: set up all the board games in the closet, one after the next, and play them all across the living room floor.
2) Make a spa.
3) Create a restaurant complete with menus and simple food items they can make themselves in the kitchen. Make a _________. Fill in the blank! Anything your child is into.
4) Really into computer games? Play a live version of their favorite game. For example, play Poptropica. Make the game cards and a map using rooms in your house on your computer, print and put the game cards around your house.
4) A good old fashioned scavenger hunt.
5) Outside play ideas: sports, bubbles, chalks, games like three lagged races, leap frog, etc.
6) Crafts. Be sure to have not messy craft items and craft book ideas out and accessible so your kids can get crafty all on their own.
That’s it. I hope these ideas help keep you sane and bring more joy, less stress to your summer days.
Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy hopes if you liked this article you will subscribe and/or join other mindful mamas here. To keep the lights on, Suzanne runs a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Shawn. She is passionate about the connection we are and to that end offers Infant Massage, parent coaching and YogaParenting.