As the school-year ends, many families embrace a slower schedule, or lack thereof. Taking a break from the busy school schedule is well-deserved, but if you’re like my family, some structure and routine to the day can keep things interesting when day in and day out at home can seem boring after a while.
A summer schedule can also help set some boundaries around use of technology, which research shows is correlated to poor academic performance and higher mental and emotional health symptoms. And at least at my house, the more screen time there is, the more outbursts we have, which tells me their brains need less of it! If you want to include technology time in your summer schedule, you could designate a limited amount somewhere throughout the day.
When creating a summer schedule, consider what the necessities are on most days. For example, you’ll see on this summer chart that the Morning Routine is included. The Morning Routine includes a few things at our house, such as morning hygiene, changing into clothes for the day, and eating breakfast. We have a Routine Chart for our 6 year old who follows it very easily since we have used it since he was a toddler, and we’ll begin using it with 2 year old soon since he can now understand what it means. A Routine Chart can be a list or pictures of things that need to be accomplished at certain times of the day. We have a Night Time Routine too, which includes things we do every night before bedtime. It helps children learn to independently take care of themselves without us grownups asking them a ton of questions (“did you brush your teeth, go potty, wash your face…”). We now simply ask, “Did you complete your morning routine?”
These routines are part of our family’s summer schedule, along with a few other things, such as chores. Our children contribute to the household chores, such as putting their own laundry away, cleaning up their toys and a few other developmentally appropriate tasks. You can see that there are optional times given to them to complete those chores. By giving kids some choice in when they complete their chores, they have some say in the whole process. If my son does not prefer to do his chores first thing, I might ask him, “what’s your plan for completing them – before reading time or after lunch?”
Once you include the “necessities” to your day, which at our house includes naps too, have some fun with filling in the rest of your schedule. Be sure to include your kids so they can contribute their ideas too! Offer a variety of activities to help kids explore different types of play and give you (parent) a time to get other things done. This can keep it interesting for them! To note, I would not interrupt my kids to move on to a different task in the schedule if they were having an especially fun time with whatever they’re doing. I would simply wait for them to come to a completion of their activity or lose interest in it and then suggest we get back on schedule and move on to something different.
We still utilize a rest time at our home. Our toddler does indeed nap during this time, but the rest of us also take some quiet time, whether that be me catching up on some work, or us having some reading or independent time. It is a nice reset for the rest of the afternoon, which gets busier again.
For us, my workday typically ends by 3:45. At that point in the day, we shift to family time. Sometimes that includes going to a tennis lesson, depending on the day of the week. Most days, we take a family walk and stop at the neighborhood playground before coming home for dinner and then our night time routine.
Try creating a schedule for your family and see how it goes! You can always adjust or change parts of the schedule if you find you need to do so. Have fun creating a flexibly structured summer! :)