Here I’m going to share with you my top tips for how to have a productive summer with kids- and I have 9! When I say productive, I actually mean intentional! If you don’t have projects, or diy lists like I do, maybe you have some goals. Maybe you want to have a fun and relaxing summer making memories with your kids, or learn a new skill. Whatever it is, you don’t want summer to just slip away not having done any of the things you wanted to, right? Here are some of my tips for how we intentionally spend our summers to make the most of them in our current season.
Summer is officially here in Montana. Whether we like it or not! We are already breaking records for this time of year with temperatures over 90 last week and in the 100’s this week! Yikes! We just barely managed to eek out the last bit of our school work before it was time to start planning for park meetups, bbq’s and days at the lake.
5 Tips for a fun & productive summer with kids
Every school year, I think I will get to those projects I want to do when summer is here and everything slows down. Hahaha! That never seems to happen! With 5 summer birthdays in our family, even more with extended family, holidays, relatives visiting, gardening and yard work, catchup appointments, plus there seems to be a bbq or party every weekend! It is wonderful to be making up for lost fellowship last year, and you won’t hear me complaining about it, for sure! Bring on the bbq’s, iced coffees, early morning sunshine and days by the water!
Buuut, there is still some work that needs to be done in the summer, and when you have a large family it can be overwhelming enough just trying to keep up with general maintenance! Throw the extra sandy wet laundry onto the pile, the trips to pack and unpack for, and late nights, it can feel like the fun in summer is not so fun anymore. So, here are 5 tips for how we streamline our summer season.
- Maintain current chore routine
- Create a summer fun list
- Plan your month & week
- Alternate project days with fun
- Create a workable system for summer necessities
1. Maintain current chore routine
For us, this looks like keeping our current chore and cleaning routine that we have during the school year. The reasons for this, is that it is easy for me to start doing more of the kid’s chores. After a meal they’ll run to play in the lovely outdoors and it’s hard to want to call them back in from that, so I’ll just clean up for them. Well, I can’t do that during the school year, becuase I have to get ready or right into teaching! During the summer I strive to keep everyone on task, so that I can not only have that time for those extra things I can’t do during the school year, but it also makes the transition into the following school year much easier, too.
Our chore schedule and my cleaning routine I will save for a future post, but if you haven’t started one for your family, the summer is a great time to implement at least one new thing. Maybe it’s a dinnertime chore routine? Gone for evening games? Maybe try to tie a chore on after breakfast- no screen time until _____ is accomplished. Or, we’ll leave for the pool as soon as ____. It’s so much more motivating to begin something hard with a reward at the end! Let the summer fun be a motivation so you don’t have to be the drill sergeant! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new groove that blesses your coming school year, as well.
2. Create a summer fun list
Every end of school year we do what we call a school audit, more on that here. Shortly after that is done is a nice to time to ask the kids what they WANT to do this summer. I just keep a simple note on my phone. If most of the kids are saying the same things, it’s just a big old list. If some kids have specific more personalized requests, I’ll make a note of that. Here are a few examples. Most of them just want to do our same fun things- ALOT! 🙂
The kids’ summer fun list
- Breakfast dates with Mom & Dad
- Swim at the lake
- Boating on the Grandparent’s ski boat
- Canoe the pond by our house
- Go fishing
- Camp out with friends
- Have s’mores outside
- Go to the Pool
- Go to the waterpark
- Late night star gazing in the mountains
- Hike our favorite spots
- Sleepovers with friends
Some of the things on this list we have been able to do already! I make note of what we can do in one go, as well. Camp out can include s’mores and a lake day! FIshing can also be a canoeing opportunity. See? 12 items doesn’t have to mean 12 days.
I also make a fun list for myself. This is not a projects list. I have one of those, too. Although I do think projects are fun, I want to make sure I am creating margin to breeeathe while I have a break from teaching. Here are a few of mine. Some of these will overlap with my kids’ lists, too. Win win!
My summer fun list
- Read 3 new novels
- Go for a long bike ride
- Hike my favorite spots
- Travel out of town for our anniversary
- Plan a fun family vacation for the end of the summer
- Visit the Hot Springs
- Nature journal at least 10 entries
- Have a girls’ night out on the town with friends
- Go antiquing with a friend
- Find a new mixed drink Nick and I enjoy (our current fave is a mojito)
My husband and I might make a list, and we also make a list of projects we hope to tackle in order of priority or manageability. Than we list them in priority and see what we can knock out that fits in the schedule and weather.
3. Plan your month + week
If you are not already a planner- now’s a great time to start! Depending on how you look at it, you still have half a year left! Your calendar is more open and you have more control over your and your kids’ schedule than you do during the school year. You don’t have to go crazy. Just start by putting in all appointments you HAVE to keep, then add in where you think some of your bucket list items could fit in. This is an easy way to quickly realize what is a manageable amount. You might think you will have plenty of time to do everything on your list, but when you look at how many weekends you will actually have, it makes it easier to prioritize the ones you want to do the most.
I also like to organize what we want to do by the kind of weather that is the most fitting. That way I can pencil a few things in monthly, and than make a different weekly plan coordinate with what weather we’ll be having.
I like to use my google calendar for monthly planning and my bullet journal for weekly and daily planning.
4. Alternate project days with fun days
Even though summer fun is well, fun, it can also be exhausting, especially if you have little ones! I like to plan outings and bigger trip days bookended by a home day for maintenance/ catch-up and a rest day. On the catchup day I’ll run the laundry, let the kid’s watch a movie, and do some cleaning etc. For the rest day, we’ll do either quieter activities together or more fun projects and crafts depending.
The days we are home getting projects done, I like to alternate blocks of time for working on projects with checking in on the kids. I try to plan a low key fun activity with them at some point during the day. For example, bubbles, a sensory activity, running through the sprinkler etc. Another thing that is helpful to my productivity is actually having the kids participate with me as much as possible. For example, I buy them their own gardening tools so they can “help”me. If I’m sewing or crafting, I’ll set up a little station for them to do their own creative work alongside me, as well. This is more fun and less frustrating than trying to get them to “go play”. Plus it adds in the engagement factor that I want to have more of in our summers together.
5. Create a workable system for summer necessities
Lastly, once I have a good idea of what things will be keeping us busy this summer I gather the products and supplies we’ll be using regularly and put them in the kid’s main bathroom cabinet as well as in my large beach/ adventure bag. Here are some things I keep stocked during the summer.
Frequently used summertime products
- Coconut oil
- Natural bug spray
- Aloe Vera
- Topical analgesic, like Benadryl, for bites or stings
- Bandaids- lots of bandaids! 🙂
- Witch Hazel for burns
- Baby powder- works great to dry and rub off wet sand
Frequently used summertime neccesities
After I’ve switched out the kids’ seasonal clothes I’ll take an inventory of our summer necessities just to make sure everyone has what they need before a day at the beach arrives and I realize we don’t have enough towels or something!
- Bathing suits
- Flip flops
- Stainless steel water bottles
- Water wings or life jackets that fit
- Water sandals or shoes if needed
- Swim diapers
- Floaties and water toys
I also setup a designated areas for wet things to dry. For us, this is a large hook rack in our garage and is the same place our snow clothes hang during the winter months. I keep our beach bag out there as well as towels, water bottles and cooler bags, so I can just grab and load. We try to rinse and hang all the swim clothes when we get home and I wash them weekly with the regular laundry, unless they’ve gotten particularly dirty.