The summer months are a great time to slow down and enjoy more family time. But if you throw all structure and scheduling out the window, you may find that the weeks have flown by and all you have to show for it are a messier-than-usual house and kids that are bored and filled with snack foods. So here are 8 ways to prevent growing summer couch potatoes.
1. Morning Reveille.
It’s fine to set the clock a little later since no one has to catch the school bus, but do maintain a regular sleep schedule. Decide what time your troops need to roll out of their bunks to start the day, and make it stick. Likewise, get to bed at a reasonable, if slightly later, hour most nights. This will make the consistent morning wake-up time more realistic.
2. Get Up, Straighten Up.
Set out a list of tasks for each of your children that they are to complete by a specific time each morning. For example, if everyone is up by 8:00 am, they might need to have finished breakfast, made their beds, straightened rooms and gotten dressed by 9:00 am. By getting these things out of the way first thing, you free up the rest of the day for FUN!
3. Activity of the Day.
At the beginning of the summer, talk with your kids to decide what their favorite summer activities are. One might say time at the pool; another might love mornings riding bikes at the park, while the more creative types might like to have some time for working on an art project. Set up these standards on a rotating schedule so that there’s a (tentative) plan for each day, and you don’t waste a lot of time wondering or arguing about what to do.
4. Special Outings.
The popularity of staycations has taught many families that there are lots of quality attractions and entertainment in your own backyard. Set a budget for the week, or for the month in anticipation of low or moderately prices outings to these local fun spots. Take a look at state parks in your area, museums, theaters, etc. Then work a fun outing into the line-up of everyday activities every week or two.
5. Friend Time.
Some moms find those long summer days easier to fill with creative, active play if their kids have some buddies around. Arrange play dates with friends to add to the fun. As an added bonus, if other moms reciprocate it may give you some much-needed time to run errands or accomplish tasks you normally do while the kids are at school.
6. Learning the Basics.
While the super-hectic schedule of the school year may leave you saying, “I’ll just do it myself, it’s easier” when it comes to some household chores, summer presents a great opportunity to teach practical skills to your kids. No homework? It’s a perfect opportunity to bring your older child into the kitchen to help with dinner and learn to make some basic dishes on his own. Rainy morning? No better time to learn how to sort a load of laundry and run the machine. They have time to learn, and you have time to supervise—make the most of it!
7. Book Time.
Use one of those slow mornings or afternoons to take a trip to the local library. Your child can check out a couple of titles to meet her required reading for next school year, and you may even find a schedule for “story times” for younger children. Plus, many public libraries lend a variety of media, including family-friendly movies—for free!
8. Volunteer Together.
Summer is a perfect time to pick a local charitable organization and donate a few hours of help. Even young children can sweep floors and stock shelves at the food bank, or help on the serving line at a local mission. Call ahead to see which agencies welcome such help, and what you might be doing.