Summer is almost here and we get excited because we are together again. My daughter currently is attending a charter school and we have adopted her school schedule (which I love) for our home school schedule as well. So back to summer. Even us home school families get the summer blahs or just burned out during summer. So how do you make summer fun but not exhausting? Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful for our family.
1. Don’t put your kids in a bunch of summer activities, aka day camps. This just frazzles the family. We usually pick only 2 things. Usually it is VBS and swimming lessons. My daughter has added a week long camp for art or dance. This year we are doing more swim lessons so camps are out. By limiting ourselves there is more room for spontaneous fun with Dad and friends. Our lives are so busy during the school year; why pack in summer as well? Everyone needs a rest.
2. Organize your time but be flexible. I know this is hard to do. I “organize” by making a list of activities I want to do with the kids. This does not exceed 1 per week. For example we are going to the Zoo, Discovery Center, Museums, and visit the Capital Building. To afford all of this you need to be creative. I have a family pass to the Zoo and Discovery Center. The passes are worth the upfront cost. I renew one at the beginning of the summer and another in the fall. The Museums have one a day a month where they are half price or free. The Capital Building is a self tour and doesn’t cost anything. Find out what is in your town. If you live in a small town this is where # 6 comes in real handy.
3. Make the outside fun. Take inventory of your outside fun things. Do you have chalk, bubbles, bug catching supplies, pool or sprinklers, bikes working, water bombs (post to come later how to make these), hula hoops (another fun DIY project), and the like? Home needs to be fun and that fun should be outside as much as possible. TV does not come on until the heat of the afternoon in our house. For most of the items mentioned I have a fun bucket. My kids are 10 and 8 so I can point to the fun bucket when the “I am Bored!” monster creeps into our house and off they go. For you moms with younger children this is a time to make their own fun bucket for age appropriate items. These are only for outside play and having a special bucket or box come out makes it even more fun for toddlers.
4. Plan for high heat and rainy days. This doesn’t seem to be a problem in our house IF we have spent enough time outside and away from our toys. Coming inside when the temperature rises is a welcome relief when kids are tired. On rainy days, no we don’t have them often in Southern Idaho, I get out a movie or our craft box. Legos are a must in our house. Puzzles and games are taken down from the closet.
5. Have a cleaning party at the beginning of the summer. Take a weekend and clean the house, inside and outside. Getting on top of chores is a key for a less stress summer. This way you are only mopping up after daily messes instead of deep cleaning after a week of partying. You can then have 1 hour in the morning to clean, yes it can be done, and the rest of the day to play. In the afternoon there is a quick pick up before dinner and then right before bed. This is our new plan because last summer was a total bust in this area. I procrastinate on cleaning and really need to work in this area of my life.
6. Combine forces! I have a great little group of moms from my church that meet once a month. During the summer we each pick an activity to host. Usually it is in the morning at a park. One mom in our group has a neighborhood pool that we will use. I am hosting a movie day during the heat of August. By having each mom take something we will have about 2 activities each month that we will not have to plan. The kids have fun with friends and we get to sip on iced coffee and chat! Win Win Baby!
7. Set your expectations to Relax Mode. Don’t have them set so high that you are running here and there and becoming frazzled. Keep summer to a minimum on the planning scale. You will be doing enough planning for a family vacation and trying to get your older kids off to summer camps. Some weeks will be busier. Some weeks will be more fun and you will feel like you are rocking it! Some weeks will make you feel like a slug. This is okay.
I hope some of these tips will be helpful for you. I will let you know through out the summer how we are doing.
May God give you grace and patience. Keep on trail blazing.