Summer is right around the corner. Some kids may already be out of school, enjoying the freedom of sleeping late and no homework. For many parents though, summer can be a stressful time. All of a sudden there are several hours a day that aren’t scheduled or structured. This can leave kids with a little too much freedom, which can lead to mischief.
This year, I want to have a daily summer schedule in place that allows Mr. O and I to get work done and Miss to have a predictable schedule. But I also want it to be flexible enough that, if something fun comes up, we can go with it.
Start with your goals.
What kind of summer do you want to have? Do you want to relax and unwind, or do you want to take advantage of every minute of sunshine? We’re more laid back folks, so we don’t like to go, go, go. Other people I know like to make every day an adventure, going on vacation, day trips, get-aways, etc.
It’s also important to think about your personal goals for the summer. Personally, I have a list of things I want to accomplish for my blog, plus lots of work to do to prepare for school next year, and I am training for the Avon 39. These are all things I need to do on my own, so Miss O will need to be looked after or play by herself.
Since Miss O will be starting kindergarten next fall, I want her to spend time each day building her academic skills. And, though I don’t limit her tv time per se, last summer we relied on the glowing box a bit too much as a babysitter. We’d like to avoid that this year, and being prepared with a daily summer schedule can help.
Add in your must dos.
Let’s face it. Not everything in our lives is flexible. We can’t just work whenever we want, and camps are only open for certain hours. Since those things can’t be moved, they have to be added to your schedule first.
Mr. O runs 2 week-long camps, I have a 2-day blogger conference, and Miss O goes to camp from 9-12:30. By starting with those items, I can work my other commitments, wants and needs around that. For example, I have about 3 hours free while Miss O is in camp. I can’t get everything done during that time, but I can train for Avon and get some blog work done.
Fill up your free time.
Take a look at your goals for the summer and start with those. If I want Miss O to get some academic time each day, I’ll be sure to make that a priority in the schedule. So after camp and lunch, she’ll use ABC mouse for 30 minutes. We have a decent sized edible garden, and this year Miss O has her own garden, so we’ll want some time each day to tend to them.
Leave time for kids to be kids.
While too much free time isn’t good, too much scheduled time isn’t ideal either. Kids need to be able to stretch their imagination and even get bored. When they have to come up with their own entertainment, they often come up with things way cooler than what we would have. At the very least, it’s important for kids to have time to do what they want, not just what people tell them to do.
One of the big benefits of summer is that there are so many opportunities for fun. You don’t want to get so tied to your schedule that you miss out. My hope is to leave 1 afternoon a week for a family outing. There are lots of neat places to go in our area, or we could just have a picnic. But if something else comes up – a festival or impromptu barbeque – I hope we’re able to say, “Let’s go!”
The benefits of a schedule.
We know that kids, particularly young kids, feel better and safer when they have a schedule. It makes life predictable. And while adults may want a bit more variety in their days, predictability is a very god thing for children. That’s why they like to watch the same movie over and over, and why they could eat the same thing for dinner every night.
The big benefit for parents is that predictability leads to smoother days. After a few days of our summer schedule, Miss O won’t bug me to play with her during ABC Mouse time. She’ll know that the tv can go on at 5pm and that free play comes after chores are done. It makes life easier for everyone.
Do you make a summer schedule for your family? Share in the comments.