The older my kids get, the more busy and full our lives seem to get as well. Justin and I both like to stay pretty busy during the week (well, probably me more than him) but we also really value unstructured play time for our kids. We’ve had a few seasons of weekly extra-curricular commitments, like swim lessons and an introductory soccer season, but for the most part we fill our time with playdates, park visits, swimming, and playing with neighbors.
This summer, we have a few trips, golf and soccer day camps for the boys, and swim lessons for Emily mapped out already, but beyond that we’re open and flexible during the days. Justin and I will maintain our same work hours that we always do, and we’ll continue to have our nanny watch the kids while we’re working. You can read more about our general weekly schedule on this post, in case you’re interested.
So looking ahead to the summer, I see a lot of blank space on the calendar during the week. And while that is kind of what summer is all about, I know my kids and I know we all work best on some kind of routine.
Kate, from Naptimekitchen.com , shared a helpful post about creating routines for your family. I hopped onto Canva shortly after reading and found a few chore charts that I customized quickly for the kids. They also have “weekly schedules” that you can customize for the kids to be able to take a birds eye look at what to expect for the week.
I’ve started to construct our summer schedule so I thought I’d share a bit of what I’m working on!
I’m planning to spend a little time with the kids this week to talk through some things they would like to do this summer. While I value the space and flexibility we have in our schedule, I want to have a few activities in my back pocket to pull out for a rainy day or if there is a time where they need a little variety.
On rainy days or days that I’m trying to complete a task around the house and need the kids to play without me, I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to kick off imaginative play is to offer a scenario or get them started. Simply saying “go play!” leads to them returning to me complaining about not knowing what to do.
Suggesting that they pretend that they live in the jungle and need to build a treehouse to get from tree to tree without hitting the ground is a lot more compelling and usually sparks enough of an idea to get them going!
One thing that Justin and I have routinely kept in our schedule during the weeks is “room time”. This is time alone in each of their rooms for each kid to do any kind of activity they want. . . that doesn’t involve media. No music, no podcast, no iPad. And honestly, the artwork or crafts that are born from “room time” are all I need to know that it’s good for them. Usually the boys do this individually, but there are certain times that we let them do “room time” together.
Room time for Emily is a bit of a reach, since she’s so young, but we still attempt to set up at least a short time for her to play or read books in her room for a chunk of time.
It’s a nice time for that parent or caregiver to know that they’ll have a short time of quiet to prep for the afternoon too!
With any schedule involving little ones, it’s really important to keep flexibility and adjustments in mind. In general I would say we stick pretty closely to our routine/schedule that we’ve mapped out, but if there needs to be a change for any reason, I always make sure to explain what it is and why it’s happening to the kids.
My boys are at an age, and frankly Emily can even understand a lot as a 3 year old, where they can grasp and adapt when things change in the schedule. And if it’s a change for the worse (like, we can’t swim because it’s raining) I always make sure to share that I’m disappointed as well! There is nothing more frustrating that feeling like your emotions or feelings about something are being diminished or downplayed, so I give the kids a chance to understand flexibility so they can practice for times that’ll be required in their own lives.