I have been breathless with busy-ness (four field trips, school carnival, track and field day, and a spring recital) and all the household fallout that happens after a couple of weeks of not taking care of it at all. But today, finally, there is some breathing room and I am sitting here in my pajamas drinking coffee and looking ahead to the summer.
Okay, so this is the past. Look at my babies: they were so little. This was in South Dakota at our last big family reunion 7 years ago.
Let me tell you about summer in my house: if I do not plan it out, we devolve into days that revolve around the electronic screens. We end up lying around staring mindlessly into them and there’s an occasional death match figuring out who goes next for what screen or game or show and we never see the sunlight. That and eat. Seriously. Last summer we had this kind of non-schedule and I HATED it. Not only that, but the kids hated it, too. So it’s back to the drawing board.
This is what I want to avoid.
Here’s how I plan things for our summers at home: First I put into the calendar all the camps, trips, fun days at the library or city parks, and obligations we have. Then I go spelunking through the internet, looking for bizarre holidays/celebrations/etc that I can pull into play as themes for the days we have left. (My favorite site is Brownie Locks, which is not the prettiest to look at, but has good info and links updated every year. Holiday Insights is also pretty good and is much easier on the eyes.) Some dates have nothing good or nothing that fit in with my kids interests, so I go ahead or behind and pull things from other days to fill in days (those are the ones listed as “rescheduled” in the pages linked below.)
At the library for storytime many years ago. That particular day a doctor came in and read the kids stories about hospitals. It was pretty cool. They still do things like this, but they also have afternoon activities for older kids.
Once I have a theme for a day, I start looking for websites that have free worksheets, interesting videos, yummy snacks, or fun projects within that theme to do with the kiddos. I also have a board of ideas (well, one for each season and one for each kid individually as well) on pinterest that I add to year-round, so I’ll go through that and pull things out I’ve saved. This year we have swimming lessons taking up pretty much a large portion of June, so we’ll go easy on those theme days and have one little craft for each day and I’ll look up books at the library for our daily reading time to coincide with the theme. In July (after our big trip) and August, we’ll go more in-depth with things and I’ll plan bigger projects and even field trips to work with the theme. For example, for Video Games Day we’ll take a look at what it takes to code our own games on the computer and maybe go out to the arcade in the mall if the kids aren’t as interested in that as I think they’ll be (I’m betting we won’t need to go, but I like back-up plans). For Amelia Earhart day, we’ll probably visit the little local airport and watch the airplanes come and go and at home we’ll watch some of the videos that have popped up recently about her crash site being possibly found. We might also look into how flying has changed in the last decades and study about how airplanes work (yay physics!).
One year we had a cousin over and still did our daily theme schedule. David was working on his special project and M was doing a coloring sheet. This photo is from years ago, obviously. 🙂
I also have a daily schedule that we follow. We start our day outside (because we live in Texas and it’s over 80 degrees already when we wake up), doing some gardening followed by playing in the yard or riding bikes or going to the sprayground. Then we move indoors once we’re too hot to play anymore and have a snack & spend some time reading before lunch. My husband comes home at noon most days, so we have a bit of time to catch up on our days activities while having lunch. After lunch we start working on our “homework” type stuff. We have instruments to practice, theory workbooks, and a summer bridge activities workbook the school district sends home every year. We’ll work our special projects (or in June we have swimming lessons) around in there sometime after all that is done. Then we do some indoor chores, mainly cleaning up from the aforementioned special projects, and then the kids will have some time to themselves for a bit of screen time or personal reading or playing with the puppy. Whatever they want until their daddy gets home and it’s time for dinner and showers and bed.
An example of a Special Project – this took all summer long during “Special Project” time on our schedule
I know some of you are going: Wait, what about friends visiting?! What about playdates at other people’s houses?! What about enjoying the freedom of summer?! The kids all LOVE this themed day schedule, by the way. They actually asked this year if we could go back to doing it this way. (Ok, to be completely honest, they hate the gardening part. That’s not my idea, but my husband grew up on a farm and he wants the kids to know how to grow things in case of some sort of apocalyptic future occurs they won’t die of starvation.) Just so you know, some of these themed day plans will get thrown out the window. We have missionary friends that are coming back home for the summer break that we’ll want to hang out with, we might get girl cousins who aren’t as into “boy things” now that they are older to come over for a day or two, we have other out-of-town friends that we might go visit for a couple of days. Some days the kids are more interested in another day’s activities or I run out of supplies for something earlier in the week than I expected to. Those days we just change things up. I usually have two or three activities floating around in the back of my brain for days like that. There’ll also be days that we are just plain tired of being with ourselves/people in general that we may give in and have a screen-time-all-day-long break. We’re human, we can make exceptions to our own rules.
One day a friend called and asked us over right that minute to help try out an inflatable water slide they got for a party. Of course we went right over!
So here are my drafts of our daily schedules and theme day plans. Feel free to download them and change them up to fit your needs. I made them in Word, so that should be easy to do. 🙂 Enjoy!