Ah, summer! Rest, relaxation, freedom. It’s the best!
As parents, though, have you noticed that after those first few days of “de-schooling,” catching up on sleep, and savoring the freedom at hand, things tend to break down a little at home?
If that savoring period goes a bit too long, life can get wacky. Wakeup times get later and later, pushing bedtimes to unspeakable hours. Cleaning up seems to slow or completely halt, family members eat at strange times, and the well-oiled machine that was once your family life now seems unruly and chaotic.
While keeping life light and breezy all summer long is a perfectly wonderful strategy, adding in just enough structure for your family during the season can make the entire experience more rewarding and far less stressful.
Here are a few tips for establishing enjoyable rhythms and routines this summer for your family.
Allow for a Transition
Those first few days after school is completed are glorious. Allow the space for your children to wake up not when the alarm blares, but when their bodies naturally rise. Allow for quiet, creativity, free play, and freedom in general those first few days.
Put Some Stakes in the Ground
Whether your calendar is filled with camp, sports, activities and more, or you’re winging it completely, scheduling some big events to look forward to over the summer can help to define the season you’re in and give everyone some things to look forward to.
These can be vacations or weekend getaways, deadlines for goals or projects you’re aiming to complete, birthday or holiday celebrations with friends and family, day trips or events you plan to attend, and so on.
Establish a Weekly Rhythm
Intentionally define some days by recurring events. For example, perhaps you try a new park every Monday or hit the library every Wednesday. Of course, if you like Tacos, you eat those on Tuesday. You get the idea. Post your weekly schedule for your children to see.
If you decide to skip something and just swim all day, that’s completely fine. It is summer, after all. However having a fun roadmap to guide you will come in very handy when you’re feeling otherwise aimless.
Maintain Morning and Evening Routines
Creating automatic routines that occur at the two bookends of the day can be very comforting to children and help to keep the home humming. Include daily tasks like cleaning up, personal hygiene, chores, reading, exercising, and anything else that’s important for your family to do daily.
If they’re old enough, encouraging your children to manage a checklist of their morning and evening routine can be empowering to them.
Return to Daily Touchstones
Having a predictable rhythm to each day can be very comforting to children (and adults). Perhaps you listen to soft music after dinner, or you read a book before bedtime, or you take a morning walk, or you pick up the house before dessert. Consistently presenting these familiar anchors or touchstones in the day help everyone to know what’s coming next and where we are in the day. These tend to become lasting memories of home and family for years to come.
Freedom is one of the best qualities of summer. Enjoy that freedom by injecting just enough structure and rhythm in your family’s day that you make the most of this season together. Happy summer!