For many of us, the arrival of summer break means the welcome shift to less-structured days, more flexibility, and no required routine. Hooray! (Best of all, no more packing lunch boxes every morning!)
When summer arrives, we’re all on a no-school-honeymoon and it feels good. But honestly, how long before that turns into, “No schedule?! No Routine?!” And suddenly we’re all driving each other mad.
In my household, the answer is about three days.
When the honeymoon period ends…
A couple of summers ago, I set out to put a touch of structure back into our summers.
Somehow, she created a balance for us, and I still had fun-filled summers running the neighborhood with friends – enjoying the freedom that kids of the seventies and early eighties were fortunate enough to have! (And, Mom, I hold no grudge about that required study time!)
I don’t feel the need to schedule every minute of our summer or have formal lessons every day…but I’ve read about the summer slide and the importance of keeping your child’s brain engaged over the summer. If my loose outline for our days helps slow down the summer slide…fantastic. But in reality, my goal is much less lofty.
I just don’t want my kids glued to a screen all day, every day. And I don’t want to hear “I’m boooored!” by 9:30 every morning.
7 Simple Solutions
Kids should play, rest, and enjoy their break from school…but we also know that kids thrive on structure, and are less likely to get bored – or become totally obnoxious – when there’s a routine they can count on. Pinterest has some great Summer Screen Time rules and other resources along those lines.
Here are my simple strategies to keep a balance between structure, screen time and free play this summer.
Reading (minimum 30 mins) – My kids always do this at bedtime, but in the summer, I try to make sure they are getting in some additional reading during the day. Luckily, my kids both love to read, so as long as we keep up with regular trips to the library so they have fresh reading materials, I get no push back on this one. Check out this fantastic read-aloud book list for kids!
Quiet Reflection (minimum 20 mins) – This could be reading their bible, doing a page in their devotional, writing in a journal or spending quiet time in prayer or meditation.
Something Helpful Around the House – I hate to admit it, but we have not been terribly consistent with assigning household chores. Having this in our summer structure is a way for me to make sure they are doing something each day to contribute to the household.
Ten Minutes Uninterrupted One-on-One Time With Mom – Like most families (at least I hope we’re not alone in this) we have our fair share of bickering between the kiddos. It often feels like they are pushing each other’s buttons to try to get more attention from me.
The kids know they need to check off each of these activities each day before they should even think about asking for tech or tv. And if they complain that they’re bored, they know they will be directed to the checklist!
Sometimes it might be in an official volunteer capacity somewhere (check out our list of volunteer opps for teenagers), but it doesn’t always have to be. We try to look for opportunities to brighten someone’s day like writing a letter to grandparents, baking cookies for a neighbor or taking chips and waters to the fire station.
Of course, we’re not perfect! And I’m far from rigid with this. There are many days we are busy with activities and camps and nothing from the checklist gets done. But I feel like this at least gives us some guidelines.
What does summer break look like at your house? Totally unstructured and free as a bird? Or is every minute planned and accounted for? We’d love to hear from you!