It’s really here. This is not a drill!
It’s time for summer vacation!
For stay-at-home moms like me, you either love the summer or you dread it. I have to admit, it does throw me for a loop a bit every time. My children have to get used to being around each other all day again, and I have to readjust my ears to the new (much, much louder) level of noise.
But for the last couple of years, I’ve come up with a handful of thrifty ways to make the summer a bit more fun for my children and a bit more controlled for me.
I call it a summer survival guide.
It’s basically a few simple ideas to make the most out of your summer vacation for your entire family!
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Make a loose schedule
Once my son had been in school for a while, I realized how much he enjoyed having his days set up in a routine. It seemed to calm him to know what to expect and when. And it’s easier to move him from activity to activity without a fuss. We set up a schedule for when he’s not at school too, and now both my kids really respond to it. We don’t plan every minute of every day or even set activities, but so they have an idea when we’d like to do what during the day.
It really makes life a bit easier for everyone and also helps with the back to school transition in a few months.
Family vision board
I think a seasonal vision board is a good way to get everyone involved in planning out your summer. Have your children draw pictures, make a collage or write with words some small things they would like to do over summer break. It’s always great to know exactly what the kids are thinking and you’ll never know what they’ll come up with!
Find local free or low-cost events
Follow your town on Facebook or look on your library’s website for inexpensive events for your children. Last summer, we enjoyed free juggling shows and an amazing spoken word poet that my kids absolutely loved!
Even our local science museum and movie theater have discounted days in the summer.
Find a new playground or park
We visit the playground quite a bit. And, as fun as swings and twisty slides can be, seeing the same equipment time after time can get a little stale.
Our town has a few parks that are fairly close to us, so we like to switch it up pretty often to find new ways to play. Plus, it’s another opportunity to make new friends!
A quick Google search will let you know where all the best playgrounds in your neighborhood are located.
It’s really easy for kids to fall down the YouTube rabbit hole in the summer. But there are ways to get those minds moving during screen time. Check out ABCya, Dreambox or even ABCmouse for fun learning games. There may be some costs involved in these sites, so just be aware!
Speaking of YouTube, we’ve found a bunch of channels devoted to keeping little bodies active. I like to make playlists of my kids’ favorite videos so they can devote a whole chunk of time to jumping and wiggling to some fun songs. The channels they like the most are Go Noodle and Pancake Manor.
Family service project
Can your family make a commitment to pick up some litter they might see at the park? Or maybe your children would like to gather supplies to bring to your local animal shelter? There are tons of ways that your entire family can give back to your community this summer!
Slowly work through a chapter book
Even though my 7-year-old son has never seen any of the movies or read the books, he does know some of the Harry Potter characters after hearing about them from friends. This summer, I think we’ll start reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! We can read a bit every day at lunch or in the afternoons. It will be the longest book we’ve read together by far, but we’ll have all summer long to work through it!
There’s plenty of time for younger kids can get some extra book time too. Check out my recent lunchtime book club for preschoolers post for some ideas!
Just add water
A very wise woman once gave me this advice. When things get rowdy or the afternoons get to be a little long – just add water! Run through a sprinkler for a few minutes, bust out the water balloon, run a bath. Any time water gets added to their day, my children’s attitude changes in a big way!
Just add chalk
On a similar note, there is just something about sidewalk chalk. My kids can’t get enough. I recently wrote this post full of ideas on ways to enjoy sidewalk chalk for all kinds of games and activities!
There will be summer days that are just too hot or rainy to play outside. That’s where the magic of the indoor fort comes in.
Simply drape some sheets over chairs and couches and you’ll have an instant cozy cave. Bonus points to the cool parents who turn out the lights and hand out flashlights to boost the fun.
My children were gifted these fort kits at Christmas and they’ve really been enjoying them. It is a bit of extra work for me, but the forts are so sturdy they can stay up for days.
Sample new foods
When I was little, my mom would let me pick out one new fruit or veggie a week from the grocery store. At home, we would look through her old copy of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook to learn just how to prepare them. Those memories are really special to me, and I really think those food adventures are why I’m a brave eater today.
These days, the food options in most of our grocery stores are practically unlimited. If you have access to an international store, the choices are even greater! Have your children choose some new foods to try this summer and see how courageous they become.
Do everyone else’s children like to entertain as much as mine? They began making shows and plays for me last summer, and I’m sure they’ll do it again this year.
I’d like to take these performances a step further and add in some talent displays starring mom and dad, too! I’ve got to start working on my routine!
Parent and child journal
I love the idea of passing a journal back and forth with your children. It’s an amazing way to get to know each other a bit better. I have a great idea for a variation on this concept that I’ll be sharing in a few weeks. Stay tuned for that!
Update – My son and I started one of these journals this past summer. Here’s a list of 50 questions that we used to in ours.
Above all else, keep expectations low!
You’ll notice that everything in this list is low-cost and low-commitment.
The entire point of my summer survival guide for families is to remind parents that this break is meant to be relaxing and a time of rest.
I realized a long time ago that my children and I don’t thrive on busy days and lots of running from here to there. Because of this, we’ve had to cut back on scheduled activities and classes. But, that’s what our family needs right now. Every family is different!
This summer, my children will mostly be hanging around our neighborhood, riding their scooters and having a ball.
As for me, I’ll be cutting my blog posts down to once a week for the next few months.
I’m going to enjoy my summer break, too!