Now that summer is here the schedule for most families has changed. Whether one parent is at home with children or both are out of the house during the day, everyone’s routine is upended for the summer. For most of us, without the routine of our daily schedules, things in our world can fall apart. Here are a few ideas that may help keep everyone sane for the summer.
1. Create a summer routine and stick with it. However loose your summer schedule may be, it will all just go better for everyone if there is some type of routine or schedule maintained. Even if it is getting up late, hanging out by the pool and barbequing supper (don’t we wish), knowing what each day will bring just makes everyone calmer.
2. Plan out the summer’s activities in advance and let everyone in on the plan. During the bulk of the year we all know what is happening. There is start of school, fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break and so on, all usually outlined on calendars for all to see. But the summer just lays out before us like a vast, unending stretch of sand and it can easily get out of control and chaotic without planning. If both parents are working outside the home, having summer activities, including vacation, planned well in advance will help ease children into the transition of different activities and caregivers.
3. Keep meals simple and easy. Children tend to want to sleep later in the summer, so rather that stopping to feed each child as they get up, make food easy to access in the refrigerator and pantry and let them take care of themselves. Keep plenty of easy foods, like fruits and veggies handy for snacking, dry cereal and milk for breakfast and finger foods you can make early in the day and leave in the fridge for lunch. If you have small children that need help, stocking your pantry with simple easy foods can save time, even if you still have to help them with meals.
4. Get creative with your work schedule. This seems a little obvious, but I do have clients who struggle with working from home during the summer and being productive. Normally most folks with children need to get up early to get the children out of the house and then they can work. However in the summer children tend to sleep in and it is tempting to do the same. However, if you maintain your early morning rising time, and instead of getting children out of the house, you spend that time working you can hang out with the children once they are up and about. If you are a stay-at-home parent and you would like some time to yourself, those early mornings work well for that too!
5. Get the children involved with household chores. I usually get a rash of phone calls the day after school opens in the fall with Moms complaining that their organized house has fallen apart. To avoid getting behind on household duties during the summer, enlist your children (assuming they are old enough) in weekly clean up. They may not do things quite up to your standards but even small children can dust the low parts and it gives children insight into what needs to be done to maintain a household.
6. Create a home for all the summer gear. Because summer carries with it unique, fun activities that often involve water, there is equipment out that we normally don’t see during the year. Create a space in your garage (not your car) to put all that stuff at the end of each day or each activity. Not having to look for the snorkeling gear, beach balls and swim suits each time you leave the house will eliminate a lot of arguments and tension.
7. Enjoy yourself and your children. Time has a way of slipping through our fingers and all too soon summer is very quiet. Take time to enjoy the chaos that is your home in summer.