The school year is almost over. We can taste victory—we survived months of early mornings, homework drama, and the never-ending grind of packing lunches. But with the giddy joy of summer vacation comes a very real dose of fear. We worry, How soon ‘til they’re bored? How will we survive without a schedule? How do I keep the kids from killing each other? Can I pry their hands off my tablet? What if their brains leak out of their ears by August?
The first days of summer break can prove our fears true–the switch from a school schedule to summer’s freedom can get ugly. Here are five ways to smooth the transition to a fantastic season for your family:
Stick to the routine. Change is tough on all of us, especially our kids. Don’t throw out your regular bedtime and meal schedule. If you read for 20 minutes every night for Mrs. Teacher, keep reading 20 minutes every night. Hang on to your regular screen time limits and chore lists. Keeping the regular flow to your days—at least at first—heads off tired, grumpy kids. They’ll feel secure, too, knowing their secure boundaries are still in place.
Create personal space. Summer throws families into 24-7 togetherness. It can take time for our kids to reacquaint as friends and playmates. As parents, we’ve lost our threshold for how much noise and MOM-MOM-MOM we can handle. Build in a block of time every day for everyone to go to their own quiet space, alone. Taking a breather and bringing down the energy in the house can restore the peace and fun.
Give the kids a say. Kids feel stressed if they don’t know what’s coming up. Let them take charge, taking part in making plans. Each one can choose a meal for the week, a “Fun Friday” activity, or a film for movie night. Honor their votes when assigning jobs on the chore chart. Let them organize a backyard picnic, planning the menu and welcoming friends or grandparents to join you. Inviting your kids to share their voice and ideas will get them excited for the weeks ahead.
Work, then play. Just like you were up and at ’em during the school year, start your day in action. Bust out the to-do list (can I say chore chart one more time?). Do some brain-building activities to keep math and reading fresh in their minds. Tackle errands while energy is high. Getting all the have-to’s out of the way frees you up to focus on fun.
Unplug. Choose creativity. Board games. Naps. Tag and hide-and-seek. Sidewalk chalk. Snuggles on the couch. Walking the dog. Scavenger hunts. Books. Lots and lots of books. Homemade popsicles. Catching fireflies. Water balloons. Picnics at the park. Blanket forts. Planting seeds. Backyard camp-outs. Stargazing. Hammocks. Car washes in the driveway. S’mores. Sand and sun. Soak up the moments to connect with one another.
A little planning, a bit of normalcy, and a lot of time together makes for a sweet start to summer for all of us. Let’s celebrate the joy of finishing the school year well, and face the weeks ahead anticipating priceless memories to come.
I love summer’s rhythms! Mostly, I love the wide-open days, but you are right that a routine is key.