This is the first post in the Simple Summer series. A series about preparing for summer now to avoid the dreaded, boredom-filled whining that starts about 4 days, 2 hours and 23 minutes into summer break. (At least that’s what I’ve heard).
Structure is not my best friend.
With my mind firmly positioned on the creative side, planning and organization extract large amounts of brain power I’d rather be using elsewhere.
However, homeschooling multiple children requires a bit of time management. After trying multiple methods, we landed on one called chunking.
Basically, I divide the day into sections of time and figure out what needs to happen in each of the chunks. This means I don’t have to schedule every hour, just tasks to accomplish within each time period.
We love the method, not so much the name (chunks remind me of a mama’s worst middle-of-the-night wake-up call), so I named it our daily rhythm.
Rhythm: a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.
That’s exactly what I set out to create.
We already had some natural rhythms — mornings and evenings were easy to spot — so it was a matter of setting up the rest of the day.
Watching it work throughout the school year made me wonder what it could do for us during the summer.
For three years now we’ve had our basic summer rhythm.
Each summer, our rhythms change slightly based on nap schedules and committed activities.
We have a pool-day rhythm and a rainy day rhythm. There’s no screen time planned (unless it’s a movie together). We started screen-free summers last year and will continue, because it was so fabulous. Stay tuned for a more detailed post about this next week.
Tip: Don’t forget yourself when planning your rhythm! I use early mornings and quiet times to rejuvenate myself each day.
Our sample summer rhythm:
- 5 a.m.-8 a.m. — Jesus and coffee, writing and blog tasks, time with my husband.
- 8 a.m.-11 a.m. — Breakfast, kids ready, reading time, math practice, outside play.
- 11 a.m.-2 p.m. — Lunch packed and pool time.
- 2 p.m.-5 p.m. — Naps for littles, quiet time for older kids, writing time for me, outside play.
- 5 p.m.-8 p.m. — Outside play, prepare and eat dinner, time with Daddy, off to bed.
- 8 p.m.-10 p.m. — Hang out with Dan or tackle more blog tasks.
For rainy days, I switch up the pool time. We might play board games, work a puzzle or enjoy a living room picnic with a movie.
The children love to create with me, too — their favorite is painting.
We do this Every. Single. Day. All four of them know what to expect and have the structure they need to prevent complete chaos.
No plan is perfect, so I’m highlighting some of the common pitfalls and preventive measures I take to avoid meltdowns.
- Behavior — Because we’ve been battling selfish behaviors this year, I’m going to set up a kindness challenge this summer. We are going to practice looking for ways to help each other and build the Fletcher team spirit before we head to school this fall. If you need an incentive system, figure out what that is now.
- Boredom — The most common thing coming out of my kids mouths in the summer is “I’m bored.” I know I’m not alone judging by the amount of bored jar ideas on Pinterest. I’m going to have a jar with popsicle sticks that have activities written on them.
- Backup plans — Even with the best summer rhythm, we still have those days when no one wants to get along, I’m grumpy or we don’t feel like going to the pool. My plan this year is to have new board games hidden away and ready to pull out. We love to play games in our house and having a new one to play is always a treat. You also could have new books, toys or edible treats as your secret weapons.
- Buddies — Having friends over breaks up the monotony of always having to play with each other. When they get along well, it’s like having a free, invisible babysitter — they stay entertained for hours.
- Bucket list — We’re going to make a summer list of things we’d like to do. Special outings, ice cream, kayaking, etc. When we’re stuck and unmotivated, we’ll pick something off this list to do.
- Bust a move — Don’t underestimate the power of an impromptu dance party. Make your happy, summer playlist now and turn it up when the heat is rising toward Meltdown Central.
Instead of dreading the last day of school, get yourself excited about creating a summer rhythm. If you haven’t done one before, it may take some trial and error to figure out what works for your family, but don’t give up.
If your kids don’t like the idea of having a schedule for summer, give them some ownership. Brainstorm together your daily activities, bucket list activities and a playlist (just keep the backup plan surprises to yourself).
To give you a headstart, I created the Summer Rhythm Recipe worksheet.
It’s a shock to the system to have the kids at home ALL DAY (gasp!) after months of school.
Prepare well and enjoy a new way of doing summer this year with less stress and more contentment.
Come back next week for a peek into why we do screen-free summers.