Summer break is just around the corner or has already started for some. While I’m thankful for the upcoming rest from the business of school and I look forward to some extra time with the kids, part of me can’t help but inwardly cringe at the thought of all the kids being home….together…in the same house…for weeks at a time…without any schedule.
Excuse me while I hyperventilate.
Ok, I’m back. In order to prevent mass chaos, shouting matches, and additional panic attacks, I decided to make a Summer Break Survival Guide for our family.
1. Make a Plan
- Ok, I know “plans” are merely a figment of my hopeful imagination and that they don’t really exist. Still, I’m going to lay out at least an “idea” of how I would like our summer break to go. A good friend of mine always suggests starting out with low expectations and then maybe you’ll be happily surprised when these “plans” exceed those.
- Our plan actually consists of a word collage of our favorite things about summer. I print it out and stick it on our fridge for daily inspiration.
- Routine – Schedules are good for schools; loose routines are more realistic for home life. Set up a very basic daily routine, allowing room for flexibility so you can add or take away activities on top of the basic “foundation”. Here’s an example: Wake up. Eat. Chores. Play. Eat. Rest Time. Eat. Chores. Sleep. Repeat.
- “Sit still and be nice to each other” is a foreign concept to my children. It’s not in their nature. Our school kids are used to following a schedule full of activities and work during the school year while our younger kids at home are used to their own play time and activities at home. When left to their own whims, my children choose to see how far under each other’s skin they can go for entertainment. Participating in some special summer activities not only keeps them from killing each other, it can also keep their brains and muscles from turning into slushies over the summer. Most cities and towns, and even your own parish, offer various summer activities, programs and camps that can be both fun and educational.
3. Down Time
- Warning: Do not overdose on summer activities. Too many scheduled activities is likely to cause severe summer burn – out, resulting in extreme chaos, stress, and tears from all involved. Remember this is summer break – not the third semester of school. Everyone – kids and parents – need time to just…be. There are enough summer activities offered to fill up an entire summer and then some. If I signed up for all of them I might as well sell our house, live in our car, and never see my kids. When registering for camps or other programs pick a few, one, or none and make up your own activities. Or schedule your activities in the morning leaving room for a quieter afternoon of relaxing by the cool pool or under a tree with a delicious book.
- Between all the activities and relaxing, there’s still work to be done. Yes, the kids will gripe but teaching these youngsters the value of hard work and responsibility is a vital lesson of life. Use charts, stickers, and/or skittles to help motivate everyone to do their part and hopefully you’ll survive the summer with your house still in one piece.
5. Make a summer toolbox
- Get a few boxes or baskets and fill them with special “summer break” items the kids can go to when they are “bored”. Suggested items: Books, books, books! Take a tour of your local libraries or bookstores for some new additions to your current book collection for some fun summer reading. Coloring books, play dough, lacing and card games, paints and other crafty items are good boredom busters also. I recently raided the $1 bins at Target and came up with some water toys and other summer fun treasures. I’d be surprised if we made it through the summer without losing or breaking some of these but at least I only paid $1 for them. Check our garage sales for new-to-you puzzles and board games – you’d be surprised what treasures you can find. If in doubt, grab the swimsuits and goggles, turn on the sprinklers or fill up some big tubs with water for hours of fun.
6. Lastly, but most importantly, PRAY. While we take a break from the normal school year routines, continue with your current prayer habits. Keep it simple and make sure you carve out prayer time at least once a day for yourself and as a family. Even if it’s just a quick Morning Offering, attending a daily Mass once a week, or sending up random aspirations or desperate calls for help – don’t forget to pray and keep Christ at the center of all your summer activities.
Copyright 2013 Erika Marie