School's Out! Organizing your summer with the kids home


It's been officially one week since my kiddos had their last day of school before summer. So far, they've enjoyed sleeping in, lounging around the house in PJs, some crafts they've been wanting to get to, and taking a road trip to visit old buddies in Asheville. Thankfully, we're off to a pretty good start.

Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.
— George R.R. Martin

With that said, summer with school-age kids home can be a bit overwhelming without a plan. It can also be a wonderful time for kids to explore, relax, create, and enjoy the freedom of days without the time restraints of the school year. All you need is your time, a little rhythm in your day and a brainstorming session with you kids to make the most out your family's summer.
Here are 7 tips to get you started:

1. Make time each day to play or connect with your child.

Take the time to play a board game, make a milkshake or catch fireflies. It doesn't have to be an elaborate project or outing, just a few minutes of your attention can make simple moments last forever.

2. find the balance for structure

After the long school year, kids need time to unwind, relax and let their brains and emotions take it easy. Kids also need a routine so that they know what to expect. Come up with a loose plan for each day, like hang at the house in the morning doing a small job or working in the garden, afternoons are spent running errands, at the pool or splash pad, or visiting a friend. The summer is a great time to teach kids how to do certain chores well so that during the school months, they can continue contributing to helping the house stay in order.

3. help kids develop a healthy relationship with time

"I'm bored" is a phrase we can all remember using at some point and one I'm sure you've heard from your child as well. Use the summer as a time to help your kids be comfortable with themselves, without technology. This may be hard to commit to at first, but don't lose heart. Here is more on why being bored can be a good thing and ideas for kids when they are.

4. Strictly limit screens

Give your kids certain times of the day for technology. Kids are less likely to bug you about it and more inclined to use their imagination if the option of being on a screen is off the table until a certain time.

5. establish daily reading / quiet time

Setting up this time during each day keeps your child's mind engaged and growing as well as gives you time to yourself. Here is a great list of summer reading ideas.

6. plan memory making activities

Get the kids involved in this brainstorming activity. Here's a list to get you started...
- Play an outdoor movie in your backyard
- Have a lemonade stand
- Make a firepit in your yard and enjoy s'mores together
- Have a water party with sprinklers, water balloons, water guns, slip-n-slide, etc
- Plan a bike ride and pack snacks for a picnic along the way
- Go berry picking
- Make your kids breakfast in bed (or encourage siblings to do it for one another)
- Surprise Dad (or Mom) at work with lunch
- Go hiking, camping, kayaking or canoeing
- Plant a small garden or even just a couple of pots of plants
- Host a pot-luck outdoor party, let your kids help with the guest list

7. capture the summer in a photo album

My kids love to look back at photos from previous summers. As you embark on this summer's activities, grab your camera to snap shots along the way. The week before school starts, have your kids help put an album together as a way to celebrate the priceless memories you've made. It will be time very well spent.