Do you ever feel like the mom in the picture above, playing a massive game of tug-of-war during the summer just to maintain a sense of sanity with the kids?
How often do YOU hear:
“Mom! I’m bored!”
“What are we going to do today?”
“Mom, when are you going to be dooooone?”
I adore my kids, and we have a lot of fun together, but I have found (since my oldest started school 11 years ago) that the transition from full time school days to leisurely summer days is difficult. The kids go from being busy and occupied all day long to not knowing how to manage so much free time. Not only do they complain about being bored, but they simply aren’t accustomed to sharing our tiny space with each other all day, every day.
Five kids and one mom in a small house is recipe for trouble. Honestly, I am the one asking myself “How DO I do it?” all the time.
In the past, we’ve loved sending the kids to summer camp, where they are so tired out that by the time they get home they don’t have the energy to be bored. Summer camp isn’t an option every year, though (especially for all 5 kids), so we definitely need to look for ways to manage the summer-time challenges and end the summer with happy memories of time spent together.
Tips for a successful Summer Vacation:
- Stick with a schedule – schedule fun activities, like swimming at the pool or checking out books at the library, so that the kids have something regular to look forward to.
- Set limits – my kids know that I have to work in the mornings and again at night, and they need to find things to do around the house while I work.
- Relax the rules a little – typically, my kids don’t play many games or watch a ton of tv, but we relax the rules during the summer.
- Get together with friends – I’ve always loved inviting a few kids over to play. It keeps my kids entertained without having to go anywhere.
- Schedule in some day-time NO WORK hours – I realized last summer that I wouldn’t be able to get away with not working at all during the day, but I can make certain hours of the day time to devote to the kids.
- Keep meals simple – To maximize time with my kids, I spend less time in the kitchen in the evenings. Yes, that means that meals aren’t as fancy, but no one seems to mind coming home from the pool and throwing a quick meal together.
- Plan day trips – Summer vacations don’t have to be elaborate. Enjoy the sights around your hometown, and take the extra time to learn about the cool things going on in your back yard.
- Keep things varied – if I have a busy day on the computer, I will try to make more time for the kids the next day. Not every day has to be exciting, and scheduling “home days” is sometimes just as important as having fun activities out of the home.
- Post a “Can-do List” – Keep a list of things that the kids can do (without mom’s help) posted somewhere that everyone can see. When the kids start to feel bored, you can direct them to the list for some ideas.
Some ideas from our Summer “Can-Do” List:
- read a book (and mark it off in your summer reading chart!)
- make chalk designs on the sidewalk
- find a partner and play a game
- bake some cookies
- build something with Legos
- watch a movie
- play a game on the Wii
- ride bikes
- find a buddy and play at the park
- call a friend
- write a letter
- paint, draw, sketch
Obviously, SO much more can go on the “can-do” list, and the list will vary from family to family, especially depending on kids’ ages. Regardless of what is on the list, having some ideas makes it so much easier on everyone.
How do YOU make it through Summer break successfully? Do you have any additional tips that have worked well for your family?
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