As teachers, we miss your students during summer–but we often hear that parents miss us as well. That’s because the change in routine can be challenging for parents and children alike. In this article, we share our favorite tips for surviving summer with littles.
Have a Daily Schedule
One of the first things that can help summer go more smoothly with children is to have a daily schedule. It doesn’t need to be too challenging or detailed, but helps to set an expectation for your children—as well as helping you not to have to reinvent the wheel every day.
- 7:30 Wake Up
- 8:00 Breakfast
- 8:30 Get ready for day
- 9:00 Chores/Workbooks
- 10:00 Outdoor Play or Activity
- 11:00 Snack
- 11:15 Self-Guided Play
- 12:00 Lunch
- 12:30 Naps or Quiet Time
- 3:00 Free Play and Snack
- 6:00 Dinner + Family Time
- 7:30 Baths
- 8:00 Bedtime
These schedules will change with things like vacations, visitors, or larger activities, but making the schedule the rule instead of the exception makes the everyday more comfortable and predictable while making the off-schedule days feel more special and, well, exceptional.
Get Outside Every Day
This is an important part of a summer routine because it helps children keep a circadian rhythm (which is useful for naps and bedtime). It also provides Vitamin D which is important for energy and moods, helps get kids out of the house (and contain messes) for a period of time, and hopefully gets you some much-needed fresh air and sunshine too.
Make Time for Self-Care
The last thing you want is to start wishing school would just start again already. Summer is a magical time to enjoy your children, but it can be a challenge to find time for yourself as well. Make sure you schedule “you time” regularly into your day and make time to get out of the house to do something for you (grocery shopping doesn’t count) at least once a week.
Include Reading Time Every Day
It’s important to read every day with your children, even during the summer. It helps to maintain and develop skills from reading and listening to word recognition, creativity, and pattern recognition. Most parents find this is a good morning activity or preceding naps and bedtime. It is also a good way to “fill your child’s attention bucket,” making self-play or unsupervised activities together more successful.
Have Ready-to-Go Snacks
If you’re like us, you’re often astounded by how much time you spend in the kitchen during the summer. Who knew kids ate so much? Having a special place in your fridge and pantry with healthy ready-to-go snacks takes the legwork out of snack time. If you’re brave enough, you can even make these “child-accessible” so they can snag a snack whenever they’re hungry.
Have a Screen Time System
Children appreciate routines and predictability. It is much easier for them to process a system where they earn a certain amount of screen time or expect a certain amount of screen time at the same time each day rather than feeling like they have to go to battle with you each day for screens. Having a predictable system in place will help your sanity as well as easing screen anxiety in your children. Remember, systems take some time to integrate and implement; consistency is key to a successful and peaceful system. If you change systems frequently or give up or give in easily, it exacerbates screen battles because your children learn they can wear you down to a “yes” if they battle you just a little longer.
Keep an Eye on Sugar Intake
As parents, we are tired. It’s just a fact. So reaching for sugary cereal or bribing your child with popsicles is sometimes our go-to survival method–no judgment; we get it. However, too much sugar (especially in a morning meal) leads to sugar crashes and moodiness in your children. They’ll feel better—and act better—with a balanced diet during the summer, and you’ll suffer less because of it.
Have an “Outdoor Basket”
If you’re like us, the scramble preceding a park outing or trip to the zoo is exasperating. Where are shoes? Hats? Sunglasses? Sunscreen? Water bottles? Having a basket with all the things you need for outdoor play can make it easier to prepare for an activity. Have a box with all the sun essentials and a set place for beach towels, shoes, and picnic blankets. Make sure everything is put away in the evening and you’ll be prepped and ready to roll in the morning.
When All Else Fails—Water
There’s a saying that water heals all wounds. That itself may not actually be true, but it’s a good rule of thumb for summer survival with kids. If your children are grouchy, fighting amongst themselves, or can’t seem to get out of a funk, water play will almost always help. Set up the sprinkler to spray the trampoline, head to a splash pad, get out the water balloons, or fill up the water play table.
Along the same vein, make sure your children stay hydrated. It can be helpful to have a special cup or water bottle for each kid that you fill up in the morning and check at snack times and lunch breaks.
What are your tricks?
What do you do to help your summer with kids run more smoothly? Let us know in the comments below!