(Photo from 2011)
I have 2 favorite times of year: Christmas and Summer. Partly because I have my little guys home with me for an extended period of time.
We are on the brink of summer break. I always have high hopes of long leisurely days together, reading book after book, sipping lemonade in the sun, long walks and talks, and late night cricket concerts. And of course I envision the 5 of us basking in each other’s presence, relishing in our time together, warmth and love flowing from person to person. Moments of beauty throughout the day.
Usually by day 2 reality sets in. After 9 months of a structured schedule and relatively little time together, we need to readjust to being together for so many unstructured hours. And by the end of Week 1, I find myself already sad that we are one week closer to the end of summer.
Each summer is bittersweet. It’s a beautiful time together, but I’m always reminded that we only have so many summers with our children. I want my boys to know that every ounce of my being wants to spend as much time with them as possible. I never want them to believe that I dread summer when they are home. I cringe when parents say (in front of their kids) that they are already looking forward to August when the kids go back to school.
To make the most of the fleeting moments of summer, we must be intentional. And a bit more organized. Here are a few tips for organizing an intentional summer before the season hits.
- Create a summer bucket list. Involve the kiddos. This is such a fun way to get everyone excited for the season ahead. And it is so fun to look back on at the end of summer and remember the great times and memories created.
- Create a chore chart or system. Some way to get the kids involved in the daily tasks around the house. Chores help them to feel like they are making a difference in the family. And when they know that fun can’t take place until after work, you will be amazed at how quickly and completely they can work!
- Create a daily schedule. Now I don’t mean a strict time schedule that you will follow every single day. More like a guideline for the days you will mostly be at home. I used this website for some great inspiration. I really loved some of her ideas.
- Create a reward system. We are using a reward chart for reading and math. Once they fill up their chart, we go out for ice cream. 20 minutes of math and 20 minutes of reading earns one sticker for each. This potentially means ice cream every other week! Completed books earn a treasure box trip.
- Determine any goals you have for the summer and write out a plan for achieving them. This may require scheduling things ahead of time to ensure you work towards the goal. Every Monday is Missions Monday. I created a list of projects we will do every Monday during the summer. I like knowing I don’t have to scramble around to get our project ready.
- Create a summer bulletin board in your home. Our summer board has our daily summer schedule. In addition we have a section of summer fun food coupons and summer outing coupons.
- Determine what is important to your family and if it is possible go ahead and print out a schedule. The summer $1 movies are a big hit here, so I print out the schedule ahead of time and schedule in which movies we will plan to see. It helps me to make sure we do the things we really want to do.
Being organized not only keeps me sane, but it allows me to make the most of the time I’m given. I spend less time thinking and more time doing. The thinking, planning, preparing are done ahead of time. So when the time arrives, I can be fully in the moments.
Here is a glimpse of what we are doing to organize our summer:
- Summer Bucket List-Completed by entire family
- Each child has their own clipboard. On the clipboard is their chore chart, library and bookstore reading program charts, our reading/math reward chart.
- We have a daily schedule
- We have the schedules for summer concerts and movies we plan to attend
- We have Mission Mondays planned and ready to begin
- My boys don’t enjoy going to VBS or Bible Clubs. So I’m doing a Bible study with them this summer. We will have Home Bible Study every Wednesday morning. Last summer we read through Case for Christ for Kids together (awesome, awesome, awesome book…my kids were a bit young for it though).
- As a Kick Off Summer gift, I’ll be giving each boy a new journal. They can use it for journaling away these long summer days.
What are some ideas that work well for your family? How do you create fun summer times and keep the stress down? We’d love to hear your thoughts!