1. Write it down!
We like to call this a brain dump. Don’t try to keep all those camp dates, doctor appointments and overnight packing lists straight in you head – get them out and write them down! Plan your entire summer as early as you can-adding important dates and reminders to your master calendar.
2. Design a schedule and create structure.
Setting routines allows lets parents and kids know what to expect, and what’s expected of them. Even if every week involves a different activity, focus on creating morning and evening routines that are consistent. For instance, your evening routine should involve emptying that day’s activity bag and packing for the next day.
3. Create a Summer Bucket List.
The possibilities are endless in the summer months. Provide pencils and cute cut-out paper. Meet together as a family and have everyone write down 10 things they want to do this summer. Post the ideas on a bulletin or magnetic board. Each time an activity or wish list is accomplished, pull it off the wall and place it in a bucket to review at the end of the summer.
4. Keep a family calendar visible & plan a family meeting.
Gathering as a family and taking the time to go over your summer plans helps establish strong communication with everyone in the home. Color-coding items on a highly visible calendar will keep everyone on the same page – literally! The refrigerator or the family bulletin board is a great place to put your calendar.
5. Construct a “launch pad” or “drop zone”.
Make sure everything you need for the next day’s activities – from sporting equipment to beach bags – is kept in a pre-determined location. Gather all the items you and your family will be using the night before – it’s a huge time saver for the morning. Planning ahead eliminates the stress of not being able to find important items for the day’s activities.
6. Assign a home for everything, label & involve the kids.
This is an all-year tip that carries extra importance during the summer. Letting the kids participate in setting up homes for summer gear makes them feel involved and increases the likelihood of their helping to maintain it. Use clear bins so everyone can see what’s inside. If you have younger children, keep items at their level so they have easy access.
7. Invest in the right supplies.
Organizing into bags specific to each activity or child will allow you go grab and go, saving both time and sanity. Consider putting together “waiting bags” that contain books and other activities to keep kids occupied while at the babysitter’s, a sibling’s sporting event or other activities where they might get restless.
8. Involve the family in meal planning.
Summer is a great time to encourage your children to design healthy, balanced meals. Shop together at a farmers’ marker and teach them how to plan and cook meals. Allow them to take ownership of this important life skill.
9. Tackle summer reading and writing assignments early.
Nothing is worse than the last minute scramble to complete the summer book reports. This is especially true for the reluctant student. Have the required books and materials on hand at the start of the summer and help your child structure a timetable for completing assignments with plenty of time to spare. With few academic pressures, summer can be a great time for children to savor good books. Family reading can be a rewarding and relaxing bedtime activity.
10. Schedule “me time.” You’re on summer break too!
It may sounds silly, but if you don’t put it on your calendar and the family calendar – it won’t happen. Give yourself time every day to recharge your batteries. Some time in the morning before the household comes alive helps you to “fill up” so your day will run more smoothly. Relaxing and reflecting for a few minutes at night can soothe away your busy day.