Preparing for Summer: A Fun, Flexible, Daily Routine

By April 30, 2012General, Summer Planning


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Ah…lazy, summer days. Popsicles and plastic swimming pools. Friends and family. Bbq’s and summer camps.

Who doesn’t look forward to and dream of the first day of summer vacation?

Mothers of small children…that’s who.

Of course, that’s not a blanket statement. There are plenty of you wonderful, saintly moms who have infinite patience and revel in the thought of unscheduled, unplanned, unending days alone with their children.

I am not one of those. I thrive on schedules. I love to be creative and spontaneous when I have a foundation of a routine. Summer always throws me for a loop. Suddenly, my routine is gone. The kids’ routine is gone. And we all have different expectations for our days.

Make a Plan

I love routine. Within the confines of a routine I find the freedom to create.

And just as we create spaces in our house for different activities (dining room for family meals, kitchen table for art projects, living room for reading and games, backyard for running and playing) we need to create spaces in time for those very same things. It is important that during the summer we have a flexible routine for our days (particularly for those with small children).

As you plan your schedule, consider your own personal energy levels at different times of the day. For example, I tend to be a morning person and have the most energy early in the day. So, instead of watching morning cartoons as soon as breakfast is over, I’ll take my kids out to do fun stuff in the morning.

Here’s my flexible summer schedule:
7:30 am – Outing
After breakfast, go for a walk and then go out to the park, zoo, pool etc.

12:30 pm- Lunch
Pack a lunch or come home and eat. (Have lots of to-go food ready for spontaneous picnic trips to avoid fast food.)

1:30 pm – Quiet Time
This is the time when my youngest child can nap and my older two can read, rest or work on their goals. This is my time to rest and write.

3:00 pm – Afternoon free play.
When Quiet time is over the kids can play outside or do whatever they like. I might also have some possible craft ideas ready for them or they can help me make dinner. This is also the time when they can choose to watch a show or they can wait and ask for a movie night.

I usually hit a slump at about 2pm, which, handily falls right in the middle of Quiet Time.

The afternoon is pretty downhill. The kids can play together outside, watch shows or help me prepare dinner.

Sometimes The Simplest Actions Can Make The Biggest Difference

Wow, Kat. That’s pretty simplistic. You’re actually writing a post about this?

Yes, my schedule might seem pretty natural and normal to many of you, but it was actually a bit profound for me. Normally, we are slow to get going in the morning. We slowly eat breakfast, then we stay in our pj’s and watch cartoons. We get a late start for our outing, eat a late lunch, take a late nap (or miss it all together) and then by the time 3pm rolls around, I’m tired, the kids are bored and we’ve used up all our TV time.

By simply being a little more proactive in the morning, we can have a much more fun and relaxing time.

This Isn’t The 10 Commandments

Of course, none of this is written in stone, it’s simply a guideline to help our days flow smoothly. Occasionally, we’ll throw the whole schedule out the window and spend the entire day at the pool or the park. Maybe we’ll stay in our pj’s and watch movies and read books all day. Maybe we’ll have a playdate, go to the zoo, museum, pool, park or take a day trip to Austin or Dallas.

That’s the beauty of summer. It’s spontaneous and free. But having a routine to fall back on can keep us healthy, happy and sane.

Share Your Fun Ideas

Are you feeling ready for summer? What are some of your favorite summertime activities to do with your kids?

(Some content from this post was originally shared on 5/10.)

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Comments

37 Comments

  • Avatar Jessica says:

    When do you fit housework in that schedule? πŸ™‚

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Housework? What’s housework?

      Okay. Seriously, though. I do most of my housework in the morning and then just after dinner. Just generally making sure the dishes are done and the house is tidy.

      Then in the afternoon (currently after school, but in the summer it will be after quiet time) the kids do their chores and I’ll do a chore or two then too.

      And if a day gets all wacky, then I’ll catch up while the kids watch shows, play outside or eat breakfast or lunch.

      It’s not super scheduled, but it works for us. πŸ™‚

    • We do something that I call “quick cleans” where everyone picks up 10 items and put them back where they belong. It usually takes less than 5 minutes. Fun to repeat “quick clean quick clean quick clean” while you’re doing it too. :p They usually don’t notice and end up picking up more than 10 things. We do them before doing something that is a “treat” for them, like watching an episode of a show, and also right before our bed/nighttime routine.

  • Avatar victoria says:

    Walking to the library with all 3 of them (its 1 mile away but mine are all 9 years and up and more than able) On the way home we stop in at the local gas station for slushies.

  • Thanks for the inspiration Kat! I often get a little anxious about summer too, but I’m hoping this year will be a little less stressful since my littlest one is a year and a half now.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Keya,
      Oh, it should be so much more fun with your littlest at that age. I always felt like 18 months and then 4 years were real milestones as far as getting out and being able to do more things with all the kids. I hope it’s a fun one for you!

  • Avatar Ty says:

    Very helpful post!!! I also enjoy the comfort of my routine. πŸ™‚ Like you, while not confined to it I consider it my roadmap for the day. Your schedule looks very similar to my summer schedule (and I use the word “schedule” loosely)!! One of our favorite summertime activities: We visit one of the local farms to see the animals and go strawberry picking. My kids are 7, 4, 2, and 1. I usually let the 3 oldest take tons of pictures and scrapbook them. They love it!!

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Ty,
      That sounds SO fun! There isn’t much berry picking during the summer here in Texas, but I remember doing that a lot when I was little and lived up North.

      Having the KIDS scrapbook?! Genius. I’m definitely going to do that this summer!

  • Avatar Jessica says:

    Check out http://www.kidsbowlfree.com ! Sign up your kids and select a bowling alley near you. Kids can bowl for free all summer long!

  • Avatar Rachael says:

    How refreshing to hear someone honestly admit that summer equals a lot of unstructured days… period! I have boys 18, 16, 12 and 9. Our school had zero snow days this year and is starting school just a little later next year. Therefore, we have three FULL months of summer…. great if you have a beach house or a boat on the lake maybe, but not so great if you don’t. The biggest thing that wears me out is the late bedtimes. Let’s face it, I have a hard time making my 18 and 16 year old go to be before 11 in the summer… not to mention my 12 year old. I can usually coax my 9 year old into getting to bed by 10, but still, this leaves little time for my husband and I to just relax at our house without the kids in the middle… if you know what I mean. I know we could go out, but sometimes it’s just nice to have some time alone in your own home. I know, I know… one day, we will wish we still had our four boys hanging out til late at night not doing much but being boys, but we do need some time now too.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Rachael,
      That does sound rough! My kids are still little enough that they go to bed pretty early. I hope you figure out an ideal resolution…and have a fabulous summer!

    • Avatar kim says:

      Hi Rachael,
      I have kids 17, 15, 12, and 9. Yes, the late bedtimes and the late mornings. Three of our kids aren’t awake until 11am. I’d like to start a project or leave for an outing by 10am, but it’s hard to make that happen.
      My whole schedule is thrown for a loop!
      What activities have you found that 4 kids in that age span can enjoy?

  • Avatar Lindsey says:

    My daughter is 2 and so for us, summer means all of our regular weekly activities are on a break, and Chick-fil-A is too full of “big kids” to be any fun. Thanks for some inspiration on creating new routines for these hot summers days!

    Last summer was so hot we had to schedule all of our outdoor play–including swimming!– for before 10AM or after 7PM. No fun! Will probably be browsing Pinterest for some good indoor craft projects this year.

  • Love it, love it, love it! Great encouragement and tips for being intentional. Isn’t that the key. So often, we’re reactive instead of being proactive. If I’m honest, sometimes I spend more time planning meals than I do time spent with children. All that does is leave me and my kids frustrated.

    That’s also how Proverbs instructs us: “Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established.” Proverb 4:23.

    I get so excited when moms write about being intentional. That’s how we get out of survival mode. That’s why I’m blogging and writing my e-book/ bible study. No more survival mode ladies. It’s time we shine. Thanks again for a great article!

  • Love it, love it, love it! Great encouragement and tips for being intentional. Isn’t that the key. So often, we’re reactive instead of being proactive. If I’m honest, sometimes I spend more time planning meals than I do time spent with children. All that does is leave me and my kids frustrated.

    That’s also how Proverbs instructs us: “Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established.” Proverb 4:26.

    I get so excited when moms write about being intentional. That’s how we get out of survival mode. That’s why I’m blogging and writing my e-book/ bible study. No more survival mode ladies. It’s time we shine. Thanks again for a great article!

  • Avatar jill says:

    thanks so much for posting!! i’m lately always trying to tweak our schedule (3 kids ages 3, 6, & 8, with one on the way), but i hadn’t really factored in what time of day i work best. i’m like you: get up & go in the morning; crash & burn by 3 pm. being more mindful of this will help us tune in & enjoy our days more. thank you!

  • Avatar katy says:

    I will go to Miami in summer session after kids holidays and want to make daily routine for kids.

    Thanks for sharing
    katy

  • Avatar Phyllis says:

    We were on vacation and our three kids were fussing and fighting like crazy. When we discussed what could be the basis of this my dh and I realized that we had no “schedule” in place and felt that the kids were sensing the lack of structure.

    We began talking at breakfast about how our day would unfold. It was a very loose schedule, but I think they found security in having some idea of time frames for their day rather than just having an entire day to fill without and sense of direction.

    It certainly turned their behavior around. Children like to have boundaries.

    • Phyllis, It does make a difference when we have that plan for the day, even if it’s flexible, but at least everyone knows what to expect. I think sometimes when I have the plans in my head but don’t let others know, it just makes everything a struggle because I’m wondering why no one has their shoes on really to leave the house, but no one knew we were even headed out. I’m so glad that the routine/boundaries are working out for you!!

  • Avatar Jane says:

    I also have a loose schedule – but what I look forward to each summer is doing something special with my kids & my sister’s kids. Each summer we get together for a few weeks. And the highlight for me is doing something crazy (crazy for me). We took Kat’s idea and did the ice cream run after they were in bed the first year. Last year we did buckets of cookies for dinner one night (my great grandmother used to make buckets of cookies – and my sisters & I loved raiding the buckets. So we shared these fun memories with the kids). This year we’re planning on doing “Yes Day” – like the book. Might have to give some ground rules – but should be fun.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Jane,
      You’re so fun!!! What’s a “Yes Day” – I haven’t heard of that…. Sounds intriguing, though!

      • Avatar Jane says:

        In the book “Yes Day” – once a year this kid has a day where every answer is yes. So he starts off asking for pizza for breakfast, he asks to pick the cereal at the grocery store, he asks to have a food fight, stay up late, etc. It is a cute book & every time my kids see the book – they mention how they wish they could have a yes day.

  • Avatar Valerie says:

    Um, you’re a fellow Texan, right? Wow, you’re brave to not be schooling during the summer. We can’t do the heat. We do math and reading lots of books during summer so we can be flexible and free to travel the rest of the year. No one wants to go outside in the summers. πŸ™ Now, if a friend invites us out to swim or come over to play, we drop school and go, but it is HOT!!

    I love your routine, though, simple things like that are profound to me too! πŸ™‚

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Valerie,
      Well, we don’t homeschool, so it’s not so much my bravery… πŸ™‚ I have been thinking about doing different “Mommy Camps” this summer. Just taking a week and teaching them a skill I have – Tennis, guitar, computers, writing, etc.

      Yep, we pretty much do inside activities in the summer here too!

  • Avatar TN Lizzie says:

    I don’t remember where I found this last summer, but my girls (8. 12, 16) all loved it!

    ~ Make Something Monday ~
    Color, Draw, Knit, Paint, Sew…
    ~ Read Together Tuesday ~
    Aloud or Alone – just do it together!
    ~ What’s Cooking? Wednesday ~
    Bake, Broil, Melt, Mix, Shake, Stir…
    ~ Be Thoughtful Thursday ~
    Write a letter, do a secret service
    ~ Something Fun Friday ~
    Friends, Field Trip, Game, Puzzle, Swim

    I need to paint this on a board to hang in the kitchen this summer!

    Valerie – We school mostly inside all summer too, so we can take off in the fall (just after public schools start back is fun!) πŸ™‚

    • Avatar Kat says:

      What a GREAT idea!!! Thanks for sharing that, Lizzie!

    • This is great! I’m going to have to borrow this idea too. I have someting like this for breakfast (toasty tuesday, waffle wednesday…) and it has been a great help to have some kind of plan.

    • Avatar nopinkhere says:

      I don’t necessarily have a daily schedule, but I do try to have a weekly schedule. This day for the pool, this day for the splash park, this day for a bigger outing (bonus points if it involves public transportation), etc. Otherwise we’d just sit around playing Lego and reading books. Not bad, but every day? I need to save your list for inspiration!

  • Avatar Magen says:

    I love that you posted on your simple schedule! I’m am so excited for this summer. I have been gathering up all our ideas and preparing our summer, now, in order to have a simple and carefree break. I plan to challenge my readers to join me soon and I’ll make sure I mention this post πŸ™‚

  • Avatar Sunny says:

    Trying to sort through old emails and finally read this post today. The line “mothers of small children…that’s who” made me lol!

    We THRIVE on routine so I’m not so sure why I always resist it. I don’t like people telling me what to do, so I think I’m quietly rebelling when I go off routine. Funny that I’m just rebelling against MYSELF, since I made the routine in the first place. πŸ™‚ Working on my heart to be more compliant to follow the lessons God has already taught me so that I’m not constantly “reinventing the wheel”. Thanks for the laugh!

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  • It’s smart to schedule some kind of outing first thing. Whenever we do something all together as a family right away in the morning, I find that my kids get along better for the rest of the day. It’s like they all of a sudden remember how much they love one another when it’s just the three of them (and me) out in the world. And when they’re not bored, they don’t bicker.

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