Summer is almost here! Are you a little nervous about what to do with your kids all summer long? I do LOVE having my kids home during the summer it is SO fun and wonderful to have just a little less structure and to do just a little less running around and just to downright enjoy each other (since I love this family of mine so much). But I know if I don’t have a plan then things can get crazy with 8 kids. A few summers back I started a few new things with my kids in the summertime and it worked so well, so each year we make a plan and do our best to follow it and we always have an amazing summer. Seriously not a lot of craziness (okay well lots of craziness but not out of control craziness with no organization:). So here’s what we do. I know this isn’t for everyone but the hope of a post like this is that it will spark something in your mind that will work for your kids and your family so maybe you can add a little value to your summer with your kids. So lets hope it does just that.
1. Breakfast Breakfast has to be first for us :).
2. Devotional I try and start each morning with a devotional (I’ll be honest it doesn’t happen everyday but I try:). You can do this with an inspiring story from someone from history or a story about a founding father (I found THIS website that looks awesome, and you could highlight a founding father, this is just a suggestion but it’s as easy as googling a topic on the internet for some information, that’s just what I did so I could share this website with you) or you could share something you learned recently that you want to tell your kids about, a religious story or some verses from scripture is good too, if you have older kids put them in charge of the devotional some days (my kids really like it when they can find a story to share and they get to be in charge of the devotional), the possibilities are endless and this is a good way to keep a little education going during the summer, something motivational is always good too, to get the day started off right. You can envision this as your family cheer for the day to encourage motivation. I’ve even had my kids all put their hands in the middle just like we do when we are getting ready to start an important sports event and we all say something like “Austin’s are amazing” or “Austin Family Rocks” or “Born to Win” (I’ll explain that last one in more detail sometime). So you can take this little devotional Pow Wow to any level you want. Just don’t make it too long, you lose the kids if you do.
3. Morning Routine Ours consist of, teeth brushed, prayers said, room cleaned, clothes on for the day, every other day they will take their laundry basket to their room to fold and put away their laundry (remember my laundry room organization post) and then every day each of my older kids will have a larger job to complete, My 13 year old made us a chart and my big kids will rotate, my younger ones will help a big kid with their job and my 6 year old is in charge of keeping the toilet paper stocked in the bathrooms which is a very important job in this house – she gets kindly rebuked from everyone when her job isn’t done:).
4. Summer Challenge After they do their morning routine and get all their big jobs done then they have some time to work on their summer challenge – 30 minutes to an hour. Here’s an explanation of what our summer challenge is… This challenge has been awesome for my kids over the past couple of summers and they have done some cool things since we started our summer challenges. Because we are a very religious family we often tie their summer challenge to memorizing or reading something religious. This challenge is usually very hard and takes all summer to complete, obviously what you pick to be their challenge will need to be age appropriate but you can decide with them what works for each child; it’s different for every one of my kids. Last year when my oldest was 12 he read the whole New Testament as his challenge; it was awesome and he totally finished it. My younger kids memorized the articles of faith (something to do with our religion) and my older girls read half of the Book of Mormon. If you aren’t religious I suggest picking something like times tables mastery, or have them read an important history book or have them do research and write a report on a Founding Father (remember that website from the top here’s the link again this may come in handy for a summer challenge as well), these are just suggestions. There are so many options to challenging them but still keeping it fun. Find something that interests them and then challenge them with something they can accomplish. I like it to take all summer so it’s something they really have to work for. You could do a couple of smaller challenges and have them last all summer too. Do whatever works best for your family and then we reward our kids greatly for finishing this task. You come up with a reward that you see fit but that’s the fun part and keeps the kids motivated. My son starts thinking about what his challenge will be months before summer gets here because he loves working for the reward.
5. Outside Jobs After they finish their morning routine and their work on their summer challenge there is always outside work to be done here, because we live on a bigger chunk of land there is lots to do they will have to feed all the animals and then we will weed or work outside for at least 30 minutes to an hour. If you don’t have more work you need done then you can let your kids play until lunch. Do whatever you want, remember this is just what we do, you do what works best for you.
6. Playtime/Free time If there is any time until lunch at this point I’ll let the kids play until lunch. My littlest kids are usually already playing I don’t have them do as much as my older kids.
7. Lunch and then Read and Rest By this time it’s usually Lunch. We eat as a family and then after lunch my littles will go down for a nap and all my older kids get the chance to read for a half hour to an hour.
8. Playtime/Free time I just let them be kids:). A lot of times this is when we will plan our outings. We will go to our public pool to swim or if we want to do a field trip to a park or the Zoo or something like that I usually do it in the afternoon. Sometimes we’ll go in the morning if it’s a place we want to go to before it gets too hot but most of the time it’s in the afternoon after naps. Most days this is just playing outside in the back yard, or in the sprinklers, or or in the house and I let their imaginations run wild and they create the coolest games and have a fun time with each other.
9. Dinner Prep and House Clean Up We all help cleaning up the house at this point (because it’s usually gotten messy) and getting things ready for dinner (my kids are so helpful so I love having them around – you can take moments like these where you cook and clean together as memory building opportunities for you and your kids) Sometimes it’s crazy and that won’t happen but seize the moment when you can.
10. Dinner Clean Up everyone has a dinner clean up job and the clean up happens pretty quick after dinner because everyone helps.
11. A Little Bit of Free Time (or bath time on bath night) and then bedtime routine and into bed with their sleepy heads.
I hope you find this schedule of ours a little useful if you decide to make a schedule of your own. I find that when I have some sort of schedule and some structure but I am flexible that’s when I have the best results with my kids. Every once in a while (probably about once a week) we throw the whole schedule out the door and just go do something fun. I think that sort of thing is necessary from time to time as well, but following a lose schedule helps me get through those long summer days and helps me enjoy and love being with my kids.
*The picture at the top of the post is of my dad with my kids at my parents lake house, we love that place and have made a million memories up there. If you have a chance and the means to get away with your kids once in the summer, they love it and it makes “special memories” in their mind. If you can’t get away we’ve done a “stay cation” (where we stay home but do a bunch a fun things near where we live that we don’t often do, like take the kids out to dinner, go bowling, have a menu at home where mom and dad are the chefs etc.) Just a suggestion for some added fun summer memories. I hope you have an amazing summer with your kiddos and maybe even take the time to blow dandelions in the wind sometime:). Happy Summer!