Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Strategies for Summer Survival

Friday is the last day of school for the boys and MAN am I ready!!!  I am so sick of packing lunch and unpacking piles of paper that the prospect of even one more week makes me want to go into a fetal position.  The person who starts a business packing school lunches is gonna be a bazillionaire. Spoiler alert: it won't be me.
I'm so looking forward to lazy days of playing in the pool and wondering aloud at like 2:30, "hey did I feed you lunch yet?  Or even breakfast?"  But of course there is a certain amount of dread when it comes to changing schedules and tons of togetherness, too.  All that time can be intimidating, so today I wanted to share my top strategies for summer survival.

1. Run Your Own Summer Camp
I mean, just for your kids.  Or even invite friends over, what the heck.  This was my top method for summer survival when the kids were small.  I'd choose a different theme each week and organize our activities around it.
The cover of my Summer Camp Binder
Working with a theme was super fun for the boys and really helped keep me motivated and organized. Some examples of themes: Our Country, Water Week, Camping, Pirates, Speed Week (race cars), Farming, you get the idea.

Here's a peek inside--it was very handy to get organized like this!
For tips to get you started, read more here and here.

2. Create (at least some) Structure
Going from a very structured routine to none at all is hard on everyone.  I like to have a general idea of how our days will go and share it with the children.  Especially if you have young children it is helpful to make the routine visible, even if you just list your daily activities on a chalkboard or whiteboard. If your kids are older, you could simply write out a weekly routine and create daily expectations for things they will do.  I made laminated Summer Checklist for my kids. They have to check off every category before they get screen time.

Want to print out your own Summer Checklist for free?  Click on the picture or right here.

3. Make a Summer Bucket List
This summer will be the first that I am using a "bucket list" to motivate and inspire us.  I am making my own filled with specific activities we have locally and things my kids have requested (having a pie fight in the driveway, for example).  But there are tons our there you can use to get you started, too.  I really like the free printables at Yellow Bliss Road and the kids' version at The Teacher Bag (requires signing up with your email).

4. Make Time for Yourself
Look, we all love our little darlings but we also all need time to scream into a pillow, um, hear ourselves think, see to our own needs.  The reason I didn't blog at all last week was because I took some preemptive time for myself in expectation of not having much this summer.  My plan for this summer is to make sure I hit the gym twice a week while my generous mother entertains the boys.  Another option is to hire a mother's helper, which is wonderful even if you don't leave the house.  But if you don't have the budget for that, don't fret!  There are still ways to carve out time for yourself!

An absolute must for me is Quiet Time. We've had Quiet Time in our house ever since Biggest stopped napping, and this summer will be no different.  Everyone retreating to their own space for an hour of reading or quiet play is a life saver.  I will start off our summer with Quiet Time built right in, it will just be part of our daily routine. If your babies are young and have trouble playing on their own, my advice is to gently and firmly enforce your expectation, escorting them right back to their rooms if they interrupt your time.  Having a few of their favorite activities available during that time helps, as does giving them a specified time limit (set a timer for little ones who can't read time yet).  A few tears and tantrums during the transition are worth the sanity-saving effect of Quiet Time and the lessons for them on how to entertain oneself.

Oh! Also, if you have an Ikea near you you can score an hour of free supervised child care for anybody who is potty trained while you shop!  If you don't have an Ikea near you, maybe it's worth the road trip?

5. Have Fun!
In summers past I have been known to start fretting about all the learning that's bein' wasted.  Brain cells deteriorating in the hot sun, handwriting reduced to a scrawl and number sense disappearing.  I've broken out workbooks and math games.  And the really thoughtful, responsible part of me thinks those are legitimate concerns and maybe we will do some math worksheets this summer.  But, if not, that's okay too because my fun-loving side has already declared 2016 as the ULTIMATE SUMMER OF FUN.  And obviously that's not something my kids will forget.  They've taken it as a formal contract and I am sure when we aren't having fun I will be reminded.

My Baby Who is Now Nine Years Old
My baby turned 9 years old in January and I guess I'm feeling like the years are slipping by.  I want to enjoy these little people while they still enjoy hanging out with me.  So we are going to be flinging water balloons and whipped cream at each other, slipping on plastic sheets in the backyard, staying up late to watch fireflies, and eating LOTS of popsicles.  We are going to have fun, darn it, even me.  And whenever I get cranky with the constant bickering I am going to try and remember that my summers with my boys are limited.  I plan on enjoying every minute.

So what about you?  What are your top strategies for summer survival?

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