I love those times of the year that breath new life into the old routine. And when you have school age children those breaths come at regular intervals on the calender: The First Day of School, New Year’s Day, The First Day of Summer Vacation.
Summer Vacation is my favorite, because instead of ramping up…we try to ease off the gas pedal, and it is such a great feeling to shed some of those year long commitments and just be. It leaves time for spontaneous trips, and meticulously planned excursions, and playing and starting new projects (we are getting new floors!) and finishing old projects (still need to fill in a giant dip in our back yard) and just being.
For me, it’s a chance to re-evaluate my goals–take a look at what is working and what isn’t working in my day-to-day routine and switch things up a bit. Adapting is the key to surviving, and so I present:
Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide To Surviving Summer Vacation
Get Up At The Same Time.
I know, I know. Now that the alarm is in a three month snooze why should you still roll over at the crack of dawn? Well, there is a chance that since the sun goes to bed later so are your kids. Maybe they will sleep in, but they will probably be up with the sun too. So getting out of bed before they do (or shortly after) works best for me. I enjoy quiet mornings with my tea, and maybe one of these mornings I will beat my kids out of bed and actually catch a few of those moments. In the meantime, I can make sure they eat something and set plans in motion for a more productive day. In reality, I can keep them from dumping a 1000 piece puzzle in the middle of the living room and convince them that orange pop is not breakfast drink.
Make a new routine.
Summer time is definitely known for it’s lazy days, and I’m all for blowing in the breeze like a dandelion fuzz from time to time, but many kids thrive on structure. If I don’t want my head to explode from a barrage of “I’m bored”s then it’s best I have a plan of attack and that means building a summer schedule that keeps the doldrums at bay. Of course, I think it’s fine for kids to be bored during summer vacation–healthy even. I just don’t want to constantly be hearing about it either. And so, I modify our schedule to include great chunks of unplanned time around those time pegs that we can hang our hats on. Here are a few of those pegs that you can incorporate into your days (choose a few, choose them all!): Set meal times, Set Clean up, Set Quiet time, Set screen time, Set Free Play, Set exercise, Set structured play (like math games, story time, and getting crafty), Set Bedtime Routine.
And don’t forget our popular list of waiting games–which are perfect for those rainy summer days or any time the kids come at you with their empty itineraries.
Alarms Are Your Friend.
During the school year, my phone is constantly alarming to remind me when it is time to get out the door to catch the bus, pick up the kids from school, or take them to an after school activity. Now that those activities have ceased and all alarms have been silenced, there is one alarm that I will keep. My mid morning alarm. I have an alarm set to go off at 10 am. I call it my mid morning re-set button. You know how it’s sometimes hard to get rolling in the morning? Or you get preoccupied with blogging, or checking in to social media, or folding laundry, or reading or whatever it may be that sucks time away? When I hear the ding of my alarm at 10 am it gives me a chance to pause and look at what I’ve already accomplished for the morning. If my to do list is checked off then I can carry on! But if I haven’t been doing much, I know it is time to kick in to high gear before lunch. Try it!
Try something new.
Last summer, I started reading the Harry Potter series aloud to the girls. I really missed that time during the school year and can’t wait to get back to it again. It can be something as simple as taking a few meals outdoors, taking a family hike, or incorporating a game night. It can be something that requires more forethought as well, like planning a camping trip, or visiting a new city, or trying a new restaurant. Encouraging new experiences will help broaden our horizons and our kids’ and will foster family togetherness too!
I hate that I have to remind myself to do this, but I do. There is so much to do inside that I forget if the sun is shining or not. Rain or shine, I am making it a point to be outside for at least 15 minutes a day. I expect my kids to be out there too (for longer than 15 minute if the weather allows). We need the vitamin D, the fresh air, and the change of pace. I’ll be working in the garden, reading, sipping a beverage and watching the kids, catching lighting bugs, and joining in on one of their relay races or kickball games.
So what has changed and stayed the same for you now that school’s out? I’d love to hear your ideas for not only surviving but rocking summer break. So let me know below.