Summer Days with Kids
Oh beautiful summer sounds, how I’ve missed you! Summer is almost officially here on the calendar and school is just about ready to end for another year. For my house this means visitors galore and lots of travel to see family and friends that the colder months of the year tend not to allow. It also means we are all over the map when it comes to our schedule. Well, not this year! This year I vow to maintain some consistency to my days, and you’ll soon hear why my friend Kristen Evans and I believe so strongly in routine and how to work around the challenges to keeping one in the summer.
Kristen and I will share:
- What a flexible summer routine could look like with little ones at home
- Dealing with the challenges of creating and maintaining a summer routine
- Great ideas for activities to do with your children throughout the summer to help support and maintain your schedule while creating amazing memories (with a printable to download and check off as you do them!)
The Challenge of Maintaining a Routine in the Summer with Children
Kristen and I are both passionate about routine when it comes to our little ones, knowing full well the benefits that come from a flexible structure to those we love so much. This can be a bit more challenging in those summer months when you are flying by the inspiration of the day, maybe even sneaking an ice cream cone in before supper and often falling off a bedtime routine. Things always seem a little more in flux in the summer as you spend more time outside, getting grass stains on knees and soaking in the sunshine, all of which is so important to those memories made and learning opportunities to be had. Even among those moments of beauty, toes in water, warm breeze blowing your hair in every direction, there remains importance in consistency, and expectations set. Kristen was just the person to talk to when it came time to coming up with a routine to fit into our summer.
A Guide to Creating Routine with Children in Mind
Kristen speaks with such experience on her blog Data Mom, where she shares the importance of putting our children’s needs in the forefront using what we know about them and how it impacts their day. Her passion for supporting and empowering children by using the information they share with us to help us shape a plan for them is so clear in her writing. I knew she would be a wonderful guide in taking steps to create our summer routine, so I asked her a few questions:
Why is it so important to have a routine, even during the summer when we often think of it as a time to run barefoot in the grass?
Having a routine or loose schedule gives our kiddos a framework of what to expect during the day or upcoming week. This can be even more important during summer when the week is not shaped by the school schedule. This can help transitions from one activity to the next go much more smoothly. For example, we will run barefoot in the grass as soon as we finish eating lunch. Especially as families plan travel and other activities during the summer, it’s important that we let our kiddos know, on a level they can understand, what we will be doing (Read more in Kristen’s amazing post: Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: Why Kids Need Schedules and Routines for Summer).
What are the main areas we should focus on keeping structured and which areas could we be more flexible on?
Especially for our little ones, eating and sleeping routines should stay pretty structured. My kiddos tend to need their sleep. Even Lucy who’s almost 5 doesn’t do well if she is kept up past her bedtime. I also like to keep a loose morning routine of getting up and getting dressed even if we don’t have specific plans. This way if a play date or errand does come up, we are ready to go. Chores and errands are another area I like to keep structured. While our kiddos should have more opportunities for fun during the summer, that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad get left with all the responsibility. With kiddos at home and playing outdoors or having playdates, there are likely more dirty dishes and more laundry. I describe lots of ways kids can help with daily chores in Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: How to Build a Summer Schedule. Flexibility comes as we take advantage of all the activities summer gives us an opportunity to do as a family, whether you are going on vacation, visiting friends and family, having play dates, exploring museums, or of course enjoying the great outdoors. If you are traveling, be sure to pack some of those structured routines with you to give your kiddos comfort when in a new place.
What can we do to support a routine when something unexpected comes along (visitors, illness, change in location)?
Especially if you have younger kiddos, it can be helpful to proactively ask family and friends to give you a heads up before stopping by. This way, you can give your child a head’s up, for example, “Grandma is going to stop by on the way to the store. It will be fun to see Grandma!” When the unexpected does happen, you can let your child know how the event fits in with the routines they were expecting, for example, “Grandma surprised us with a visit! We’re going to visit with Grandma for a little while, then eat dinner and take a bath.” A little explanation can go a long way in reassuring your kiddo that the activities they are expecting will still get done. When a kiddo is sick, that might sound like this: “You need to rest today since you don’t feel well. We’ll go to the park another day.” If possible, bring your routines with you when you travel. Reading a favorite bedtime story and doing the expected bedtime activities in the same order can help your kiddo feel more comfortable going to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room or relative’s home.
Do you have any resources to help us create and maintain routine with our little ones?
I talk about three of my favorite schedule and routine resources in my short guide, Three Simple Tools to Improve Daily Routines. In addition to those, I recommend explaining to our kiddos what the plans are and following through with what we said would happen. There are a number of other cues that can signal the time to change activities, such as a clock chiming or even the dryer turning off. I give examples of what this looks like for my kiddos in Summer Sun, Fun, and Schedules: How to Build a Summer Schedule.
What does your summer routine look like with your children?
Because my husband and I both continue to work over the summer, Liam continues to go to daycare and Lucy stays with a family friend while school is out. Their summer schedule changes from the school year schedule; this year, we are trying three longer days of care so we can have longer weekends for family time, play dates, and other summer activities. I will be taking weeks off here and there since the families I work with have summer plans of their own. During our long weekends and other days off, we typically get up, have breakfast (I joke that my kiddos are awake by 6 and starving by 6:01, so breakfast happens very shortly after eyes open at my house), get dressed and such in no particular hurry, run any errands we have to run, then have the rest of our day for play, play dates, and other activities.
What are some fun ways you and your children like to spend your summer days?
We love to visit a nearby zoo, go to the library, and spend lots of time with friends and family. We are very fortunate to have two wonderful families living next to and across the street from us. Between the three families there are seven kiddos so there is never a shortage of friends to play with! There will also be lots of visits with grandparents (my parents live just a few miles away and my husband’s parents are a few hours away). Lucy has a few close friends at preschool she is looking forward to having playdates with, and we are also planning her 5th birthday party this summer.
Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!
Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!
Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.
In a FREE email course, I walk you through
the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.
DataMomKristen.comI am a former special education teacher and practicing behavior analyst. My favorite and also most challenging position is Mom of two young children. I find myself eating lots of humble pie after years of giving parents advice that I must now give myself! My professional and personal experiences have taught me that parenting is not a spectator sport: it is hard work. My goal is to provide resources and strategies to parents who are willing to put in that work and watch their kiddos experience success as a result.
Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,
The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.
Here for you, Momma!
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