I cried for a week before my oldest started kindergarten. It seemed especially hard because her kindergarten class was an all-day class. I was ecstatic for summer break (as I am every year) until about three weeks in when I started to lose my mind. I love having my two home all day, but I have started taking on more writing work and the quietness of the house gives me a break from the chaos for a few hours. When summer hits, insanity ensues.
If you are anything like me, summer break is a nice getaway from fundraisers, piles of homework and carpooling, but you suddenly get a full appreciation of the hard work teachers put in the rest of the year. Here are a few ways you can help keep your kids (and you) happy during the dog days of summer:
Stay sane during summer break
Have a schedule: I am not great at keeping schedules, even when the kids are in school, but they spend all year following one in the classroom. Having a strict hour-by-hour schedule isn’t necessary, but some structure will be helpful. “Ideally, there should be a mix of both planned activities and down time. The specifics of what this will look like will depend on the age and needs of your kids,” Erin Schlicher, a parental support line instructor with Empowering Parents, says in her article “Restless and Bored.” Consider having a list of things for your kids to focus on in the morning (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, read for 20 minutes etc.) and then allowing unstructured time for part of the day.
Spend time with the kids: I write from home. During the school year, I can do most of my work while my kids are at school. During the summer, I feel neglectful when I still have to do my work and they are here pulling out the let’s-guilt-mom eyes. A fun solution I came across includes creating an activity jar. You will need a marker, old jar or can (tall enough to hold Popsicle sticks) and Popsicle sticks (or craft sticks). On each stick, write an activity you can do with your kids. Ideas range from simple (have a 10-minute dance party, take a walk, bake some cookies) to more extravagant (go to the zoo, have a water balloon fight, build a fort and watch a movie). Let your kids choose an activity from the jar and do it.
Don’t waste time cooking: I love summer for many reasons, but one of them is the laziness that is grilled burgers and picnics. I can totally get away with feeding my kids sandwiches, chips, and fruit for dinner if I put it in a basket and call it a picnic. Enjoy fresh fruits (watermelon, melon, grapes) and veggies for easy snacks and meals. Your house will stay cool and you won’t waste your days roasting in the kitchen.
Create a summer reading list: We are big readers in this house. Spend a little while browsing the local library and make a list of books for your kids to read this summer. Reading will keep their brains active and maybe they will even learn a thing or two this summer. Create a chart to log the books they read and offer incentives for reading a certain amount of nonfiction books to make it a little more fun.
How do you stay sane during summer break?