We are two weeks into summer vacation here in Pennsylvania and boy did we come crashing into this season full blast! Our first week was full of fun: playdates, sleepovers, pool time, park dates, fairs, parties and fireworks and while all that fun and activity helped us transition better (less fighting, more playing) we know that every day of summer can't be quite that full. At that pace this momma would be broke and all the kids would be exhausted and grumpy!
I know that chores need to be done (my workload always seems to go up in summer with all these bodies coming and going throughout the day), minds need to be cultivated, imaginations need to be expanded and care for others needs to be practiced. This is my set of months - the months where I have finally recaptured the majority of my kids' waking hours and I want to use these months to help my kids become better, stronger, more caring and thoughtful human beings.
Nearly every year I come up with a summer plan. Now how well we stick it out is yet to be determined - check with me in August - ha! But we do start out strong! I've tried all kinds of plans and each summer is different based upon my kids' ages. I've poured over Pinterest, tried printables and made charts.
But when it comes down to it, I'm a paper and Sharpies kind of gal. There's something about creating a plan in my mind and then laying it out with a ruler, color and some design that helps me process better. Who's with me here?
I wanted our plan to have some structure but not too much that we wouldn't stick with it. It's really more of a routine or set of guidelines, things my children can work on or do when they have down time. My oldest two are 11 and 10 so they are fairly independent but need guidance to use their time most effectively and this year I really wanted to push them to step it up a little.
Here are the areas I focused on:
Morning Routine: These are the things that I'd like them to get done when they first wake up but if they need to eat breakfast or chill first then that's ok too. More importantly I don't want them playing until these are done. They are: make beds, pick up clothes and toys in their room, feed animals, and find 5 things to either give away or throw away.
Weekly Cleaning Job: I need as much help as I can get around here and my kids can stand to learn a few new things that will help them become responsible adults. During the school year, in addition to being helpful around the house, they make their lunches, empty the dishwasher, set the table and clear dishes. The summer list of simple cleaning jobs is in addition to those and they include: dust, vacuum, mop, sinks, toilets, blinds, windows and the car. We put each one on a piece of paper and they get to pull one job from the jar on Sunday and have the whole week to complete it.
They picked toilets and car this week....can you guess which kid is unhappy?!?!
Weekly Declutter Area: Things seem to pile up during the school year! One area and one week at a time we are tackling the stuff this summer in order to create a simpler space. The areas I thought needed the most help are: paper, books, art supplies, photos, dishes, kitchen cabinets, DVDs, Electronics/plugs/cords, jewelry/momentos, toys.
I choose one area and then we work on it throughout the week whenever there is extra time (or I need to keep my kids busy). This week is paper so we are cleaning out drawers and boxes!
Summer Learning Project: I let my kids pick one thing they would like to learn, then this summer when they have extra time they can work on that skill. My daughter chose Spanish and my son chose "stop-motion animation". This is something they are each interested in and gets them learning in an area that motivates them.
Screen Time: This is an area I have really pushed them. The first week of school there were no limits (although we were so busy it was never an issue) but now I am limiting them to 1 hour a day. You read that right....1 hour. This hour includes screen time, tv or kindles. Presenting my kids with this limit brought up an interesting conversation with my 11 year old as he tried to tell me that the recommended limit for kids is two hours. He's always trying to outsmart me but it was a good chance to explain that "up to" and "no more than" is not the same thing as "should" or "recommended".
Blessing Project: My kids need to spend more time thinking about other people. As a family we are going to think of one person each week who we could encourage or bless and then come up with a way to do that together.
Truth be told we have already encountered some conflict with each of my kids as we adjust to new patterns, and as a result one of my kids has lost all screen time for two whole weeks. While initially that was rough, it has honestly been so nice and pushed us to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time. They are playing better, having more patience with one another and no one is begging for the tv!
I've even come up with a chart for me! With having all the kids around I'm slacking on keeping myself healthy so I came up with a chart to help me track exercise and food! I don't like blank boxes so I'm hoping this kicks me into gear!
What about you? I'd love to hear what kinds of summer routines you have for your family or yourself. Do you have any good links to share or printables you've used? Comment below and share what works for you!