Summer Time Survival Guide

Today at 2:40pm, school will officially be out for the summer.

I write that sentence with equal parts joy and equal parts dread.

Joy because I’m looking forward to warmth, sun, water, and FREEDOM. No practices, carpool, or homework. (I’ve always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot…)

This also leads to my dread. That is A LOT of empty time to fill. Time that has the potential to be filled with noise, chaos, bickering, and NOISE.

And if you have boys, you know when they don’t have something to do, they find not good things to do. Every day the goal is to wear them out.

So after a few years, I’ve started coming up with a plan of attack. My kids operate best off a schedule, it’s just how we roll. I mean, my three year old who can’t tell time asks me when we are leaving. We are a planning people. The schedule doesn’t have to be iron clad, but a general guideline does us good.

So here is what I’m thinking is going to work for us.

Generally the goal is to wake up before the children. We are all happier when this happens. After we’ve woken up and had breakfast, the plan is to do a little morning devotional time. I love this bible, and the devotions in it. I’ve tried several devotionals for kids, and this has been my favorite, and it’s conveniently within the bible right next to the referenced scripture. Plus, I feel like it can work for a lot of ages. We’ve been working on some scripture memorization, which I will roll into this time. I’ve also been wanting to incorporate some basic theology and church history, and think we may give this book a shot.

Then will be exercise time. Remember, the name of the game is to wear them out. I like to run and do exercises that use your body weight (I.e. Push-ups, squats, etc, HIIT style). I can’t run with my kids. It just doesn’t work for me. Running will have to happen early mornings or later evenings, but the kids can do the other exercises with me. We’ve already had several push-up and planking competitions, and these will only get fiercer. Hopefully they provide some good competition by the end of the summer!

From there we will go with whatever the “day” is from this schedule. Sometimes this will take up the majority of our day (like going to the pool with friends) and sometimes it will just be a quick project (like a craft/science experiment a là Pinterest).

summer schedule, part of summer survival

I’m going to tack on some of our “must do’s” onto the lighter days. Crafts don’t take as long, so we will probably be making some of our grocery/errand runs on Monday. We like to entertain a fair amount on weekends, so it makes sense to straighten the house up on Fridays.

After the featured activity and needs get completed, we will either head home for lunch, or grab it out. Several picnics have already been requested, so I’m sure plenty of those will be happening.

My youngest will go down for a nap (thank you, Jesus, for naps!) after lunch, and it’s boy time. They’ll be given a variety of options depending on how the day has gone, and what I need to get done…some video game time, reading on their kindles, playing with the neighborhood kids, school work, chores around the house, etc.

About the time my little will be up, the boys will start some school work. I know…I’m so cruel. But I have done summers without any work, and done them with, and we are all happier with. And better prepared for the school year. I believe our natural inclination is to always be learning, and want to feed into that, not teach them everything stops during summer. I will be using these books again this summer, along with supplementing with some worksheets found through Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers. I really like these books, although I do find them to be a bit behind, so I always go up a year. For instance, my going into 4th grade son will be doing the 4-5 book. If you’re looking for more busy work though, I would stay with the same grade. You can preview the books on amazon to make sure you’re comfortable with what they will be going over.  My daughter will come down and start working on her book as well.

Summer Bridge Activities, part of summer survival

I like that they get some practice work in, and that they end up helping teach one another. Plus I’ve usually started on dinner by this time, so it buys me some time.

When they are finished with work, they will be directed to reading. Bickering usually ensues after about 20 minutes, at which point I will either banish them to the fenced in backyard, or cave and let them watch tv while I finish dinner.  Keeping it real folks.

While a schedule is all well and good, I mentioned some of my biggest fears of summer is the NOISE, and the fighting. Often the two go hand in hand in my home. Stealing this wonderful, brilliant lady’s idea, and combining it with my sons fabulous kindergarten teachers reward system…I think I’ve got a plan to help war against behavior issues.

The general idea is that there is a jar for rewards, and a jar for consequences.

The way the rewards jar works, is that they have to collectively earn 12 brownie points to be able to pull from the reward jar. I’ll keep track of how many they have on my phone. For minor infractions, a deterrent for whatever the days issue is…will be loosing brownie points. This will work well, I think, for the bickering and not sharing, because they earn the brownie points together, and loosing them will effect everyone as well.

Some of our rewards are:
-a trip to the park
-a school work free day
-king of pops (a local popsicle company that is always at at our farmers market)
-lunch out, possibly with dad
-stay up late
-extra media time
-popcorn and a movie
-go to park

There are tons more options, depending on what you kids favorite things are. They came up with all these options, with some guidance from mom. I wanted choices that we could do quickly, and wouldn’t have to take much planning or effort to make happen. One that didn’t make it was hang out with friends…not because that wouldn’t be great, but more because that takes a fair amount of planning and coordination with other parents. I want them to get the reward right away.

For the consequences jar, this will be used for bigger ticket items and be done on an individual basis. My two big things that will get consequences are telling on one another, and talking back/disobeying. I’m sure you don’t ever have these problems in your home…

One of the things that is a bit different about the consequences jar, is that they have a 25% chance of pulling a stick that says grace. This is a great chance to talk about the grace we receive from Christ. The brilliant woman who came up with this does a great job of explaining it. Be sure to check it out!

Our consequence sticks are:
-no media
-15 minute time out in room
-grace
-make all the beds
-clean toilets
-hug siblings for 1 minute each
-grace
-no treats

This can be customized depending on ages and what works best for you. I could have made lots of housework as a punishment, but I don’t want them to view housework as a punishment. It’s a responsibility all of us have, to take care of what we have been entrusted with…and I don’t want to avoid muddling the line between responsibility and punishment. The bed stick is more a way of serving siblings, and no one likes cleaning toilets…plus they are the ones that dirty them most, so I felt ok about that one.

To assemble the jars, I simply used vitamin jars ready to go out to the recycling, and threw a fun label on it. Make sure it’s a jar the kids can’t see through or look into very well…like my oldest already tried. Then just write on large Popsicle sticks. The whole thing (including coming up with ideas!) took less than 15 minutes, and has already helped save several situations!

Consequence/reward jars, part of summer survival

Finally we are doing a general summer to-do list, of things we want to be sure to do. This involves typical things, like play in the sprinkler, go to the pool, beach, etc. We also have some that are more oriented towards our family, like plan and cook a meal together, plant/take care of our garden, watch a movie in our backyard, make a lemonade stand (literally build it), then use proceeds to take lemonade to homeless downtown (oldests idea!). It’s always helpful to have some fun goals to work on, and go to solutions for those days when you’re just out of ideas.

Hopefully all of these things will help us to have a fun and productive summer, with minimum whining, complaining and fighting…from kids, or mom!

What are you doing to have a great summer?

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