My summer plans for sanity: schedules, plans, charts, and other coping mechanisms

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I am one of those moms that makes a crazy weekly schedule for summer. I thought I’d share it in case it’s helpful for anyone else or gives you ideas of how to tweak things your own way. Do NOT look at this and feel guilty if you never had any similar intention. *I* do this because it helps me know what to do with my children when they are out of school and suddenly back in my care 24/7. If I did not make a plan or a schedule, I would find myself fretting in bed in the morning while my children got a jump start on chaos. If you are the type of mom who likes to go with the flow and not be pressured by a schedule, then you probably won’t like these ideas, and that’s okay. We can still be friends. :)

Weekly schedule.  Here’s a link to my chart, but this is the general idea: chores* done by 10 am, then a brief devotional and “summer school” (30 minutes of workbooks, writing, etc.). Mid-day activities include:

Monday:  Money and Menu plan– Allowance and Bank, Plan lunches and dinners for week (this year I’m going to try having each child in charge of one day of lunch and dinner), Grocery shop

Tuesday: Temple, Treat, and Tech– Get a treat and visit a temple, Rent a movie or video game

Wednesday: Service and Play–Humanitarian or other Service, Fun ideas from Pinterest

Thursday: Travel– Day trip or hike

Friday: Library and lunch– go to library and meet daddy for lunch

(This schedule is way more flexible than it may appear. Times are approximate, and we also have swimming lessons and other random calendar commitments, so some days the schedule will get trumped with something else.)

Then we finish off the late afternoons with a “summer snack” (usually a Popsicle), 30 minutes of reading time** followed by some quiet play time, their 30 minutes of media time, then dinner and family time, and finally bedtime– except for Thursday nights when I’ll let them stay up a little later for neighborhood night games.

*Note on chores: I make a daily chart (you’re welcome to download and edit my document here) so that every morning, each person knows exactly what their jobs are that day. Each day as they pass off their work, I will give them some kind of voucher that they can collect and cash in toward their allowance on Mondays. It may be as simple as a labeled popsicle stick. If you have any questions about the chores we do around here, go ahead and ask in the comments.

**Note on reading: You know how a lot of schools have a take-home reading program? Well, I modify that plan and run a similar system at home during the summer. My children like to read and will often pick up books during down-time and definitely at bedtime, but what I love about take-home reading is the assigned content. Sometimes I’m a big fan of forcing things on my poor children, especially when I know it would be good for them to step out of their comfort zone a little and expand their minds by trying a new genre or subject matter. So I did a lot of research about good books for my kids to read, and I went and checked out a lot of them from the library. Then I created big gallon Ziploc bags with their names on them and made a form (here’s a blank one you can download) that lists their “assigned” books. During their reading time every day, they read the book in their bag for as many days as they need to until it’s done. Then I sign it off, and they move on to another book on their list. I love this part of the day because it makes me feel like a children’s librarian, one of those jobs I’m just sure I would love.

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So there you have it. It’s kind of like comfort food for the psyche; it makes me feel better to have a summer strategy. Here’s wishing you the best in your own summer preparations. What are some of your favorite strategies?

Tell me you’re torn too.

In less than 3 weeks, school is out.  Children will be home full-time for the summer.  I can’t figure out if I’m thrilled or terrified.

No more frantically getting children out the door to the bus in the morning.

No more papers to sign and return or send emails about when I lose them.

No more volunteering at the school and putting books in to ziploc bags for two and half hours straight.

No more packing lunches.

No more backpacks and their contents scattered on my kitchen floor.

versus:

No more one-on-one time with the kids when their staggered school schedules send them out and bring them home at different times.

No more quiet, alone time for 6 blessed hours a week when they were actually all in school and preschool at the same time.

No more leaving my children’s education and daily schedule up to some one else.

No more dealing with them in shifts.  It’s all three, all day, every day.

Yah, it’s a tough one.  I acknowledge this makes me a total mom wimp.  I had all three at home all day for several years and a few summers after that, but you know how it is.  Once you’ve tasted the sweet flavor of freedom, it’s hard to go back.  I admit there’s parts about it I enjoy, but I’m determined to have a plan.  I  need a routine in place or we will all drive each other absolutely nuts. “Mom, I’m bored. What can I do?” I’ll be able to face that first week they’re back home if I know how the summer will go.  Here are my ideas so far:

  • 30 minutes a day of summer reading
  • 30 minutes a day of workbook pages or writing exercises
  • daily chores
  • Some kind of scheduled activity each day of the week, probably mid-day, some spilling into the afternoon.  Ideas for now:  1.  Library and lunch (picnic or eating out),  2. Creative Projects (art, crafts, sewing, gardening, etc.), 3.  Meal planning and grocery shopping (I’m going to let each child choose one dinner recipe a week and buy all the ingredients for it at the store.  Then the day we eat it, they can help me make it.), 4.  Service (I’m looking for some kind of formal volunteer opportunity we can all do together.  Hoping for Meals on Wheels.),  and 5. Outings (preferably free.  Parks, canyons, walks, …. any suggestions here?)
  • Free time and play time in the afternoons.  Hopefully lots of sunny days for swimming and outside play.
  • Quiet time (ha! I’m really going to try) while I’m fixing dinner.  Kids in own rooms doing reading, listening to books or music, quiet play, etc.
  • I’ve been tossing around the idea of teaching them some Spanish this summer.  I was a darn good Spanish teacher in my pre-kids life and I’ve got all the materials I need.  I should do it.
  • We’ll do one family camping trip a month.  It’s hard work, but we love it.
  • I also thought about making a “bored box” with ideas in it that they have to pick out and do if they ever tell me they’re bored.

Some people will think all that’s just craziness, but it helps me a lot to have a blueprint to work with.  There will be lots of flexibility.  Plans will change on any given day due to weather, sickness, laziness, holidays, calendar events, or children spending half the day in time-out (I’m a realist.).

What are some of your summer plans and strategies?  I’d love to hear them.  Are you excited?  Worried?  Seriously, are you torn too?

One day into summer and we might need therapy

Yesterday was the last day of school in these-here parts.  An exciting time, right?  And somehow it turned into another one of those mom’s-expectations-hit-the-fan experiences.

My plan:

  1. Happy welcome home from school hugs
  2. Last day after-school snack: Happy hour at Sonic
  3. Look through all their fun end-of-the-year papers and awards
  4. Let kids stay up until 10 pm! for the first day of summer and watch basketball or a movie together
  5. Get ready for camping (I already ran out and bought $90/worth of fun vacation food)
  6. Go on a 3-day camping trip as our summer kickoff activity.  Ride bikes, hike, cook camp food
  7. Sit in a lawn chair and read books and work on my talks for EFY next week
  8. Start preparing the summer “master schedule” that will begin next week.

Reality:

  1. Boys dropped backpacks and bags on the garage floor and ran outside to play baseball.
  2. “Maybe later, mom” at the suggestion of Sonic.  Then proceeded to throw baseball bat (at play) and hit my van with it.  Time out.  Ensuing arguing, crying and continued bad behavior.  Missed happy hour.
  3. They dumped out all their papers in my entryway and wouldn’t pick them up.  “That’s not mine.”
  4. Bedtime at 7:30.  I’m done with everyone.
  5. Watched news and saw weather report:  3 full days of pouring rain.
  6. Canceled camping trip.  Can’t think of a single back-up plan to do in the rain on no budget.
  7. I guess I’ll have to prepare my talks with three cabin-fevered children.
  8. Dang it.  I need the summer schedule now, but I still haven’t thought through it all the way because I thought I still had time.

Help?