Every year I write up a super awesome summer schedule packed with activities, projects, and learning. I schedule time for math, and crafts, and trips to the zoo, and cleaning out the kids’ bedrooms and closets, and I get so excited! Who doesn’t love an amazing and organized schedule with every minute of fun accounted for in cute little boxes?
Every year it doesn’t get used. Not even a little bit.
The kids have their own plans, even when they’re little. Or their friends do. Or our many relatives do. It turns out great, but I find myself being pulled in two different directions all summer.
On the one hand, I should really allow them to attend the play dates and parties, and go to the park. I should plan a vacation or camping trip, and go to the local events. We need fireworks and the zoo and pool days! Hot dogs and s’mores and hiking!
And of course we promised all their teachers they’d keep up on their daily twenty minutes of reading. It is only twenty minutes after all (times three kids, if the toddler just listens to one of the others instead of me).
On the other hand, it’s called summer “vacation” for a reason. We need to sleep in, stay in our jammies and eat cold pop tarts. Maybe we’ll build a fort (using every pillow, blanket, couch cushion, and chair in the entire house, of course) and watch a movie. Or three. And not clean it up for a week.
Maybe I’ll just send them to the backyard with a bunch of popsicles while I read a book.
Or maybe this year I’ll finally do both.
Over the past few months I’ve learned a lot about what I need and how to take care of myself. One of the biggest challenges has been accepting that it’s okay, encouraged even, to take breaks and do something for me.
A jam packed, over stimulating schedule not only doesn’t leave room for that, it actually wipes me out. It leaves me emotionally and physically drained. But having no schedule and accomplishing nothing does that to me too.
It’s all about balance!
I know, that’s totally obvious. When you hear those words, you think, “well, of course it is.”
But just because it makes sense doesn’t always mean it’s easy.
So, this year, I’m planning my summer in chunks instead of all at once. What I mean is, I have a calendar with all the important stuff so that we can work around the family events and appointments, and I also have a flexible daily schedule. Then, I’ll take a week or two at a time and plan which activities we can add to the framework.
My daily schedule is as simple as I could make it, while still including the things I felt were most important for our family to do regularly. It has a balance of being productive, but not over-stimulating. It looks like this:
Each week we’ll have two or three days that follow this schedule, more or less. If we want to go to the park or library in the morning, we either speed up chores and skip school stuff, or swap with the afternoon play time. Some days I may not need an entire hour of “mommy time,” but let’s be realistic and assume there will be a couple interruptions or it will start late or end early. And at least one of these days will have a grocery trip or appointment of some kind.
One of those days, about every three weeks, we’ll do an activity during the educational time. My kids love crafts and science projects, but I am not so great at planning and actually executing them. So if I space them out, they still get a few fun projects over the summer, and I don’t have to deal with the mess or the cost as often.
(*Tip: Stock up on arts and crafts supplies and put them in a bin or cupboard. Then they can do their own activities in between. Fill it with construction paper, markers/crayons, stickers, glue, scissors, popsicle sticks, pom-poms, googly eyes, or whatever else your kids like. Mine also have beads and string so the girls can make necklaces, which is also great when friends come over.)Schedule breaks and rest time during the summer so you don't get overwhelmed. Click To Tweet
Then I include a “rest day” during each week where we get to be lazy. They still have to pick up after themselves throughout the day and do a couple of easy chores, but they can stay in pajamas and have extra screen time and play time. We’ll do things like bake, color, watch movies, have read-a-thons, play board games, and eat lots of popcorn. It can also be a “catch up” day for me for whatever I need to work on around the house and a day where I don’t have to be social and extroverted, so I can recharge my batteries.
This leaves one more weekday for the super fun stuff like the zoo, Lagoon (our local amusement park), the pool, backyard water fights, organizing games with friends like kickball or soccer, having lunch with Dad at work, visiting Grandma, or whatever else we come up with. We like to make a summer bucket list with our kids and try to do as many things as we can from the list before summer is over. Most of them include Dad, so we do them on the weekends, but if not, they go on these days.
We also take each of the kids out on a date. It has become a tradition to take them on dates for their birthdays instead of gifts, and since all our kids have winter birthdays, we have added summer dates as well. With four kids, we can’t really take each of them out every month, or as often as we’d like, but twice a year works pretty well for us. And the kids really look forward to it.
The weekends fill up fast and are pretty much all scheduled already, but this is where I put most of the family parties, holiday activities, local events, dates, etc.
You are welcome to use my schedule, or here are a few quick tips for making your own.
- Schedule breaks and rest time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Plan which areas allow for flexibility.
- Prioritize. Which events and activities do you really want/need to attend and which can you sacrifice if you need to?
- Get the kids (and Dad) involved. If they help with the planning, they know their voice has been heard, but they also understand when not everything fits into the schedule.
- Be prepared to say no without feeling guilty. Sometimes you have too much going on. Sometimes you can’t be spontaneous. Sometimes you need routine or extra rest. That’s okay!! Take care of yourself, your spouse, and your kids, and don’t feel pressured to explain it to everyone else.
If you need ideas for how to use your Mommy Break Time, or aren’t sure why it’s part of my schedule, check out my post Self-Care Isn’t Selfish.
What other tips would you add to this list?
How do you schedule your summer activities?