Summer. The season I love and hate. The season where memories are made and sanity is barely held together. We are doing a bit of traveling this summer and a few camps which are great, but the day to day at home with the kids is always a challenge for me. It doesn’t come naturally to me and I have no desire to set up elaborate crafts and experiments for them. I do my best to schedule fun outings and adventures, but living in a subtropical climate leaves outdoor activities mostly out of the question.
So what to do? What fits with my parenting philosophy? What do I want for my kids this summer?
I want to honor unstructured time. I want to allow them to be bored, but I also don’t want to be driven crazy with the “what’s next” questions. I want to create a rhythm to our day.
The kids are so used to the routine and rhythm of the school day so to go from that to nothing is jarring. To solve these issues and create a summer that honors our family values and keeps me sane, I created a flexible schedule that is posted in our family room.
The cards are movable from day to day, but most cards are in the same order from day to day to maintain that comfortable rhythm. We might do playtime at home or a playground or a friend’s house but it usually occurs before lunch and before dinner. Family time always happens after dinner and is the time when all four of us gather to play card and board games, read, or do puzzles. Screen time is limited to once a day and includes all screens that they may choose whether it is a TV show or game on the iPad. My kids do better when they have limited screen time so it is a maximum of one hour.
The kids love the posted schedule more than I ever thought. They refer to it often throughout the day and I no longer get questions about “what’s next”. The unstructured playtime is still my favorite, because even though they bicker more (more opportunities for conflict resolution and peace education, right!?) they always impress and surprise me with what boredom breeds. Already my daughter has cut up most of her coloring books to create puppets for plays. Dance parties, building of fairy houses, and Lego masterpieces have all come out of these times.
It is a challenge to create a summer that is both structured and free for exploration. We continue to work on that balance to make sure everyone, mom included, makes it to the next school year!
Per request, attached are the cards that I made using word and clip art. Feel free to edit them to suit your individual needs! I printed mine on regular paper and use painter’s tape to attach to our family room wall. I would recommend using heartier paper if you have it.