Summer Planning – A Simple Schedule To Save Your Sanity

By | Summer Planning | One Comment

Summer planning - from surviving to thriving.

(As I’m getting ready for summer, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts that help with the transition from crazy busy school days to slower paced summer fun.)

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 of us 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. This summer we will be using this summer resource a ton.

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 kids 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.

What does your summer schedule look like? What are some of your favorite things to do? Click here to comment.

(originally shared 4/10)

A Mom’s Guide To A “Geek To Chic” Summer

By | Be Productive, Summer Planning | 20 Comments

pismo beach

The nerdy girl who loses her braces, gets contacts and comes back in the fall as the coolest girl on campus. The little freshman runt who grows a foot, works out and returns to school as the football hero.

Maybe it’s all the teeny bopper movies I watched when I was younger (ahem…or last week), but I always see summer as an amazing time for change and growth. It’s wonderful what can be accomplished in 3 small months.

Just because high school is a fading memory in our rear view mirror doesn’t mean we can’t use this season as a catalyst for change in our own lives. In the last ITA podcast I talked about purposeful motherhood and how setting small goals can lead to big change. If you’re inspired to make the most of this summer, grab a pen and paper and let’s start planning!

1. Set 3 Summer Goals

What would you like to improve over the summer? List 3 things. The main key here is to be intentional but keep it simple.

boy-soccer
Summer is busy, crazy and never goes quite the way we planned. Set broad but purposeful goals that will adjust to vacations, late night bbqs with friends and spontaneous family slumber parties.

Planning to hit the gym at 5:30am every day for 90 days might be overly ambitious.

Never underestimate the power of low goals. Forward progress is forward progress.

2. Simple Start: Write it down

When I take my kids to the park, each of my girls responds differently to the playground full of kids. I have one daughter who will run straight in and strike up a friendship with the first moving object she sees. My other daughter prefers to stand by me for a few minutes, size up the situation, and then join the children to play and have fun.

Many of us have similar responses to personal change. Some just dive in head first, change everything all at once and it works for them. Others need to go more slowly. The key is to remember that neither method is wrong. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

The simplest way to change something in our lives is to just observe – like my daughter at the park.

You don’t need an elaborate plan before you start. There is massive power in paying attention to what we are doing or are not doing. Commit to journaling a few lines each and every day and soon enough you won’t be able to help but take action in that area. For example:

Want to get fit? Write down (or take a photo) of everything you eat. Nothing more. No need to track calories or develop a nutrition plan. Simply writing down everything you eat will inevitably lead to positive health decisions.

Want to have more fun with your kids? Write down every fun thing you do each day with the kids. No need to plan or scour pinterest. Just take a minute each evening to write down the fun things you did that day.

Want to study the Bible and pray more? Each evening, write down what you read that day and who you prayed for. If you didn’t read or pray, write that down.

The point: The key is to faithfully write down what you did each day, good or bad. There is transformational power in simply paying attention to what we do. Just like shoving a rock down a snowy mountain will trigger an avalanche, simply writing down (i.e. paying attention to) our actions in key areas will trigger better decisions and actions in the days to come.

sunrise

3. Tell a friend

Tell a friend your goals and ask them what they hope to improve this summer. The richest friendships are the ones that sharpen one another. Maybe you could meet for coffee every other week. Or you could Skype every Friday. When you bring someone along on your journey, your chances of success skyrocket.

The Simplest Geek to Chic Summer Ever

1. Set 3 simple goals.
2. Write something down about each one daily.
3. Tell a friend.

Now that doesn’t sound intimidating, does it? The fact is that the most powerful change you can make is your perspective. It’s like starting an engine. Once you get it going the rest is easy.

So what 3 areas do you want to work on this summer? I’ve listed goals in the comments. Click here to share yours too!

Preparing for Summer: A Fun, Flexible, Daily Routine

By | General, Summer Planning | 37 Comments


Photo Credit

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.)

Summer of Purpose: Help Your Kids Set Goals (FREE chart)

By | Summer Planning | 10 Comments

The first posts in this series are here, here and here. Today we have a few more tips on setting summer goals with our kids.

No one wants to feel overwhelmed by work in the summer so the key to setting a good summer goal(s) is to make sure the activity is something they love and are passionate about. (Grammar geeks: I formally apologize for ending that sentence in a preposition.)

Next, help them pick a goal that seems just out of reach and impressive to them. It needs to be a realistic goal, but one that will require a good bit of determination.

Passion and Perseverance

When we set out to accomplish something, we require two characteristics: Passion and Perseverance. At the beginning we’re very passionate, but soon it gets hard and that’s when we need to choose to develop our ability to persevere. This is where the real growth and character building happens.

Then comes the joy of accomplishing something that seemed out of reach. There are few things that can build confidence in a child like perseverance followed by victory.

Younger Children

Even very small children can set fun goals. For example:

  1. Learn all the letters in the alphabet.
  2. Learn to count to 5, 10, 20.
  3. Learn to ride a scooter.
  4. Learn to swing.
  5. Learn to swim.
  6. Learn to read.

The idea is to make sure they know that they’re working towards something so that when they accomplish it they can really value all the effort and relish the sense of accomplishment.

Trouble Shooting

If your child is having a hard time getting motivated, re-evaluate their goal. Is it truly in line with what they love to do. Is it too high of a goal? Do they have the proper tools, instruction, guidance?

How To Keep Them Motivated

It’s important to help them break down their goals into small, daily steps and individual milestones. Milestones will help keep your kids feel motivated rather than overwhelmed. When they are reached, reward them.

You can also motivate them by specifically working with them on their goal. They’ll cherish the opportunity for some special time with you.

Make It a Family Event and Make It Super Fun

Create a chart for the whole family. Each day or week have everyone log their goal progress. This is a great visual motivator.

Have an “awards ceremony” at the end of the summer where each person showcases their new or improved skill and receives a homemade certificate of accomplishment and a word of praise from mom and dad.

A Handy Dandy Form/Chart

Some people like to read, rock climb or spend the evening on the town. Me? I spend my Saturday nights making charts and forms. That’s right. You walk with me, you walk on the e-d-g-e.

So here’s a handy form that will help you create your goals and track your progress throughout the summer. Enjoy!

Summer Goal Setting Form

(This post is part of WFMW.)

5 Tips for Surviving Summer Road Trips

By | Summer Planning | 25 Comments

We live in Texas. Texas is awesome. Texas is big.

When we take a vacation, it takes half our time just to get out of the state. Our road trips are always at least 6 hours, but more often 12-26 round trip.

As a result, we have to be very intentional about planning in order to stay sane and keep the children content for such longs stretches in the car.

Our last vacation was especially long, but it went really well. Here are the tactics I used to make our trips run (relatively) smoothly.

1. PACKING

I planned what each of my kids wore on each day of the trip. I made a little pile for each day that contained pajamas, outfit for the day and any accessories. I then put all those items into a ziplock bag, compressed it and labeled it with the child’s name and the date it was to be worn.

It sounds really obnoxiously organized, but I promise it has been a sanity saver for us.

This was helpful for several reasons. If you’ve ever traveled with little ones you know how annoying it can be to try to search through a bag for one tiny pair of socks or pants. It can also be tiring to try to figure out what they will wear WHILE trying to get them dressed.

With this method, Jimmy or I could just grab a bag for each kid and then we had everything needed for the day.

It also took up less space in the suitcase.

2. SNACKING

Instead of bringing a giant bag of pretzels or trail mix and passing it out in the car, I divided up the snacks into little snack bags so that whenever someone needed something we didn’t have to worry about crumbs or making sure little hands didn’t drop things.

We could just pick out a small bag and hand it to them.

When my kids were babies, I premeasured all the baby cereal they’d eat for the trip into small bags. Before each day I put together 3 meal kits (containing the baby cereal, baby food, spoon and disposable bib) in preparation for the next day. In the morning, I’d just put the kits in my diaper bag and I was ready for the whole day.

3. PLAY AND PRESENTS

In addition to packing their favorite toys and books, I also went to the dollar store and bought a few new surprises. I wrapped the new items along with some old forgotten favorite ones and hid them in the basket of books and toys.

Every few hours or when they got really restless, I’d let them dig for and open a “present.” They LOVED it.

4. STORIES ON CD

We also had several stories on CD that we listened to and that was something everyone really enjoyed. My kids were literally mesmerized by Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables, Adventures in Odessey and Little House on the Prarie. It was especially nice when Jimmy and I needed them to be quiet (like when one was napping) because they didn’t want to talk for fear they’d miss any of the story.

(I just love this sweet pic of my oldest and youngest. They fell asleep holding hands.)

5. DVD PLAYER

Now, we do bring a DVD player (my laptop) on our trips, but we really prefer that they look at the scenery. Often, we’ll hook the sound up through the car stereo and just listen to their favorite movies so they can still see the sights..

Normally, everything else keeps them so entertained that they don’t really ask to watch videos, although it is certainly a nice option and we usually pull it out at least once or twice.

Well, that’s what worked for us. If you go on a road trip anytime soon, I hope some of these ideas work for you.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

I’d love to learn your road trip/vacation tips, please share them in the comments.

Did you take road trips as a child? Love “em or hate “em?

Summer of Fun: Big Memories on a Small Budget

By | Summer Planning | 29 Comments


(Bandana on ponytail? Check. Sleeves rolled up? Check. Glow in the dark shirt TUCKED IN? Check. Clearly, I was a fashion icon.)

The summer I turned 7 my family surprised me and took me to an Amy Grant concert. As is embarrassingly evident in this picture (taken when I was 12), I was a huge Amy Grant fan.

My family was so excited to surprise me with that concert and I freaked out when we drove up and I saw the sign.

You’d think, looking back, that would be the highlight of my year.

But it wasn’t.

My absolute favorite memory of that year was sitting in the chaise lounge with my 60 year old grandmother as she read The Chronicles of Narnia to me.

My Point: We Are Bigger Than Rock Stars

As we plan for this summer, let’s remember that, to our children, we’re bigger than rock stars. We don’t need to break the bank and take them to Disney World. We don’t need to buy them the latest toys, pools or waterslides. We don’t need to send them to the coolest camps.

Our kids best memories will be the ones they made with us. Simple traditions. One on one time. A chance to see Mommy at her goofiest. Late night games. Cuddly storytimes.

Children have significantly lower memory making standards than we do. Too often, we do what WE think is fun. We spend a bajillion dollars and then get frustrated with our kids because they didn’t appreciate all the effort and expense. When, really, all they need (and want) is a little time, a little creativity and a lot of love and attention from you.

Memory Making “Themes”

There are lots of ways to make special memories without spending a lot of money. I’ll share more specific ideas later, but here are some “themes” that you can use to generate lots of memory making plans.

  • Surprise them – Have a spontaneous family fun night or movie night.
  • Single them out – Go on a date with just one of your children.
  • Break the rules – Stay up late, eat ice cream for breakfast, etc.
  • Be consistent – Read to them each afternoon while they eat a popsicle or drink lemonade.
  • Do something normal in a new way. Eat dinner at the park. Have bedtime stories and hot chocolate at a bookstore. Read to them in a cushion fort.
  • Do something new in a normal spot. Instead of going to the park and just watching your kids play, slide down the slide with them. Ride the merry-go-round. Have a scavenger hunt at the grocery store.
  • Be creative. Paint a picture together – frame it and hang it on the wall. Make a movie together. Write a song together and put it on a cd. Write a story together complete with illustrations.

A memorable summer doesn’t require a lot of money, it just takes a little creativity and a little bit of you.

Community Project

(You’re going to start seeing Community Projects incorporated into some of my blog series. If we work as a team we can really help one another and save time by not reinventing the wheel over and over. I have some fun projects planned, so stay tuned.)

Share your fun, low cost ideas in the comments and I’ll compile them all into a massive, printable list that you can keep handy all summer long.

I’ll also compile the list into a post, so if you have a blog you want me to link to next to your summer fun idea, leave that in the comment as well.

Ready? Share your favorite summer ideas here.

(…and if you want to disassociate yourselves because of the picture at the top. I completely understand. I tried to disassociate myself from myself, but it didn’t really work…)

This post is part of WFMW. Click here for more great tips.

GIVEAWAY! Motivation Monday: Don’t Read My Blog This Week

By | Summer Planning | 88 Comments

Today is Motivation Monday! Tell us in the comments if you’ve taken action and get a chance to win today’s giveaway which is Francine Rivers‘ latest book, Her Mother’s Hope.

It’s the only nonfiction book I’ve read in a REALLY long time and it was excellent. I was actually a bit obsessive about reading it. I finished the 500 page book in a day.

And that, friends, is why I rarely read nonfiction books.

Get all the details at the end of the post and find out who won last week’s prize.

Don’t Read My Blog This Week

Well, at least until you read these two blogs:

World Vision Bloggers This week my friend Amanda is taking a trip with World Vision to see their programs that benefit the people of the Dominican Republic. Amanda is a fellow inspired mom just like you. I love this awesome post she wrote about discovering the joy of a morning routine.

Please read her personal blog this week. I’ve followed many bloggers who have gone on similar trips and it’s always deeply moving. Jimmy and I sponsor children through Compassion International and it’s been a wonderful way to help our family have a broader world view.

PhotobucketI’ll also be guest posting at Amanda’s wonderful blog – Impress Your Kids. Her blog is all about creative ways to impress God’s Word on our children’s hearts. I think my post goes up on Wednesday, so hop on over and check it out. Her blog is packed with really fun things to do with our children, which fits in nicely with the theme for this week: Summer Fun.

Summer Fun

If you have time, after reading about Amanda’s trip to the DR, I’d love it if you’d join us this week as we discuss all the creative and fun things we can do with our families this summer.

We’ll talk about everything from “How to Make Big Memories on a Small Budget” to “Surviving Summer Road Trips.”

See you tomorrow!

You Are Awesome

I just wanted to take a second and tell you how awesome you are. You know, just in case you’ve forgotten. I’m so impressed and inspired by the ways each of you have taken action in your lives. I seriously LOVE reading all the Motivation Monday comments. If you haven’t been reading all the other comments, I highly encourage you to take a minute and read them this week. So encouraging…

Rock stars. That’s what you are.

Motivation Monday Details

For those of you who are new, here’s how Motivation Monday works:
Anyone who takes some sort of action can enter to win. Your action might be:

  • getting up early, reading your Bible
  • going on a date with your kids
  • creating a mission statement
  • exercising
  • creating a meal plan
  • Writing a goal

It can be any action that improves who you are as a believer or a mother.

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment and say, “I took action this week!”

You can also:
– Get 2 entries by leaving another comment telling us what action you took.
– Get 3 entries by leaving one more comment and telling us you told your social media friends about the action you took (blog/twitter/facebook etc) .

– Get 4 entries by blogging about your action and sharing the link to your blog post here:

Last Week’s Winner
According to Random.org, last week’s winner of the Steven Curtis Chapman CD was Shawn who joined a Bible study (comment # 60). Congratulations Shawn!

How To Set Goals With Your Children – The Simple Version

By | Summer Planning | 23 Comments


Photo Credit

I had a really nifty post all written. It was about how to set goals with our children. It was 600 words long.

Then Valerie left this comment on our Facebook page:

There was a verse we used to evaluate the balance in our summers. (my 5 boys are now grown men). Luke 2:52 says “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

We tried to look at the things we were doing from these four categories.

  1. One activity to enrich our knowledge, like summer reading programs at the library or an art class.
  2. One physical, such as swimming or baseball. Some were purposefully team building and others to develop singular activity.
  3. To grow in favor with God, we picked verses to memorize or Bible school in addition to church.
  4. To grow in favor with men, we tried service projects, mowing the neighbor’s yard, baking cookies, or visiting the nursing home
  5. .

When they were young I planned with this in mind. As they grew, I let them choose with these four categories in mind, showing the example of Jesus to follow.

Well, after I read that, my post seemed so complicated and convoluted. I love how wisdom and experience simplify everything.

I’ll post a few of my ideas next week, but I just had to share this perfectly simple and thorough method.

(Makes me want to start a series featuring the wisdom of “experienced” moms. Hmm…)

Question: What’s the best piece of wisdom you’ve gotten from an older mom?

Summer of Purpose: Accomplish Something Big

By | Summer Planning | 21 Comments


Photo Credit

The nerdy girl who loses her braces, gets contacts and comes back in the fall as the coolest girl on campus. The little freshman runt who grows a foot, works out and returns to school as the football hero.

Maybe it’s all the teeny bopper movies I watched when I was younger, but I always see summer as an amazing time for change and growth. It’s wonderful what can be accomplished in 3 small months.

Set Summer Goals with Your Children

Summer vacation is the perfect time to help our children set a goal to learn a new skill or improve and old one. It’s amazing how just a little vision and direction can inspire children to work together and accomplish big things.

As moms, we need to lead the way. We need to set our own goals for the summer. The great thing about summer goals is that they are especially and uniquely fun. Because summer is (or should be) especially and uniquely fun.

Take some time to set a goal or two to accomplish over the next three months. Then schedule a time to take each of your children out on a date in the next few weeks to tell them about your goals and help them set their own.

Make it a family effort – post everyone’s goals on the refrigerator along with fun progress charts and set a time each day for everyone to update their chart.

Why Set Summer Goals

The point of setting summer goals for our children isn’t just to make them better at some skill or activity. That’s certainly a benefit, but I think the greater goal is to help them learn the importance of goal setting, the wonderful feeling of achievement when they succeed, and the habit of self discipline.

It’s an opportunity for them to practice making decisions.
They can choose how they spend their time, so they’ll need to often choose between what they feel like doing and what they need to do in order to reach their goal. These are extraordinarily valuable life lessons.

By working with your child to set the goal(s) we can ensure that it is attainable and won’t overwhelm them. If it is a challenging one, be sure to set milestones so that they can revel in their success along the way.

Tomorrow we’ll walk through the process of helping our children set challenging yet achievable goals.

Summer is fun. Make sure that setting and achieving these goals isn’t a a chore, but a wonderful way to share the joy of summer with your children.

Action Steps:
1. Set your own goals for the summer.
2. Schedule dates with each of your kids to help them set their own goals.

Question: What is one thing you’d love to learn yourself or that you’d love to teach your children this summer?

(This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday.)

Summer of Purpose: Create a Fun, Flexible, Family Routine

By | Summer Planning | 28 Comments


Photo Credit

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 of us 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.

What is your favorite summertime activity to do with your kids?