We are weeks, if not days, away from the end of the school year and the start of summer break. Before you let go and slide into the spontaneity and freedom of summer, take a few minutes to tackle these four things. They won’t take much of your time, and by thinking ahead, you’ll guarantee your family a happier, less stressful, and more productive summer together.
1. Determine a summer routine
Part of the charm of a summer break from school is getting a pass from the routine of the school year and having more time to do what we please. There’s no school bell, no homework, there’s more time to spend outdoors and more relaxed bedtimes. No one wants to rob their children of that freedom and their chance to simply be a kid enjoying a carefree summer, but it’s also important that we keep a sense of routine going in their lives. Experts insist that kids need routines to know where they stand and what’s expected of them. Routines establish a model for healthy living, help to set good habits and they give comfort and security.
Without school to add structure to their day, you need to spell out to your kids how things are going to work. Map out an average summer day in your family, including an acceptable time to start the day, how much screen time is allowed, rest or nap time, camps or special activities, chores that are expected, meal and snack times and bedtime. Be sure to allot for plenty of unstructured time, outside play and time together as a family, too. The objective isn’t to set a schedule with military precision, but to create an outline that will help guide the less structured days of summer, keeping them enjoyable and stress-free.
2. Register for camps
If you haven’t already registered your kids for camps or drop-off activities, jump on it and find a few options to keep kids occupied and entertained during the long, dog days ahead. There are plenty of affordable options, including mini, half-day camps and programs offered by local libraries, churches and schools to entertain the kids and provide you with a few hours of freedom to work, rest or play. Find the right camps, and your kids will see the time as a fun break and a special summer memory.
3. Book a summer sitter
No matter how much fun you have planned and how much you’ll cherish the extra time with your kids, you’ll need a break. Scheduling a regular sitter gives you the peace of mind of knowing time to yourself is right around the corner. You’ll be able to better enjoy family time when you aren’t struggling to squeeze your own needs and responsibilities into the mix. UrbanSitter makes it easy to find a sitter who’s available when you need help – say, three mornings or two afternoons a week, to plan ahead for date nights or special occasions, and to find childcare for the last-minute invite from a friend who happens to be in town.
4. Set goals
While setting your summer schedule, give some thought to your objectives for the months ahead. A little advance planning and a strategy will help ensure that you don’t wish away the time and find yourself at the end of the break wishing you had accomplished more. Set personal and family goals, such as making more time for your own hobbies and spending more time having fun as a family. Depending on the ages of your children, good summer goals can be traveling to a new place together, teaching your son how to ride a bike or confidently jump into the pool without swimmies, entertaining more spontaneously, sleeping under the stars with your kids, or getting away for a weekend alone with your spouse. School-age kids will enjoy and grow from setting their own goals. You might suggest goals, such as reading 10 books or logging a set number of hours of reading, attending sleep-away camp for the first time or learning or improving on a new skill.
This helpful to-do list shouldn’t take any joy from your summer, but rather help improve your chances of having the idyllic break you and your family deserve.