Steps for a Successful Summer with the Kids
Make a bucket list of what you would like to do with your kids over the summer. Set aside some time by yourself and brainstorm some ideas of what you would like to do with the kids. Everything from setting them up with swim lessons to giving them time to run through the sprinklers. Think about what kinds of memories you would like to make with them and put it on the calendar. Get some input from them as to what they would like to do. This is not to make sure they are entertained every moment of every day or even that every moment is scheduled, but to ensure you are purposeful in scheduling those things you want to do with your kids rather than hoping you get around to them. As someone that really didn’t like schedules, I resisted this idea when my kids were small, but found that it was better to have a plan and then adjust it as needed (i.e. we are not going on a picnic today because it’s 100 degrees) rather than trying to come up with a plan when I felt like I had no energy to brainstorm because I was feeling overwhelmed.
Some of the activities that have been on our past bucket lists have included: trips to the swimming pool, going to the fountains, berry picking and jam making, participating in the summer reading program, feeding the ducks, picnics, Regal summer $1 movies, and going to the zoo. Pinterest has some great summer bucket list ideas if you are needing inspiration.
Schedule these activities on the calendar at the beginning of the summer. Place this master list on your fridge or some place where you and your kids can refer back to it and cross things off as you do them. Anticipation of doing something special can bring just as much joy as actually doing the activity. Make it a game. Take pictures of things on your list as you’re doing them or encourage your kids to take the pictures if they are old enough.
Create a summer routine. This has been a huge help for me when I have implemented it. I struggle with the lack of structure that summer can bring. Having scheduled activities on the calendar helps ensure that the things I want to do with the kids actually happen instead of just having a reactive day in which I’m putting out fires continually. It has also helped to set days of the week for different things. For example Monday-park day, Tuesday-pool day, Wednesday-$1 movie day, Thursday-picnic day, Friday-play outside day. Maybe these things only happen for 1-2 hours of the entire day, but it’s something for the kids to look forward to and then they tend to do better with their free time. This works for younger kids. I now have three teenagers and things need to be more flexible to schedule around their work and sports activities, but I can still have ideas ready for when their schedules open up.
It’s also essential to build in times of rest and refreshment for you over the summer. Be mindful of different ways this could happen. Would you be able to do a babysitting swap with a friend weekly? Would evening work after your spouse is home? Sometimes we overlook this as being necessary, but it doesn’t do anyone any good if your energy level is low because you have waited too long to get your batteries charged. Along with scheduling the bucket list for activities with your kids, make a list of ways you will care for yourself over the summer on a daily and weekly basis and build these things into your days and weeks. Getting 6 hours of sleep and snacking on peanut butter and jelly crusts that have been cut off your kids’ sandwiches, doesn’t give you the energy you need for this job. (Trust me, I’ve tried!) Make sure you are getting adequate rest, lots of water, healthy meals, and feeding your soul with God’s word and prayer. Having everyone home for the summer takes more energy and it’s necessary to then find time to refresh so you have the extra energy you need.
Celebrate and review the memories you have made together. Before school starts in the Fall you can look over the pictures of your summer memories together. Have a special treat like an ice cream bar or firepit with smores to celebrate the end of summer and beginning of Fall. Purposeful motherhood is worth celebrating! All your efforts will be worth it as you have given your family some great memories.
Taking these steps can help make sure you don’t have a summer in which you survived, but a summer in which you and your kids have made some great memories together and have spent time doing things that are a priority to you. In the big picture, that is the kind of summer we want to create with our kids!
What are some systems you have set into place that have made your summer run more smoothly with your kids? What kinds of memories do you want to create?