If there is anything for sure it is this: I am a creature of habit. I thrive on a routine and my heart skips a bit over organized structure. Sure, I like to be spontaneous every once in a while...so long as I've planned for it. For better or worse, my household is run on routine and when summer comes around, structure isn't too far behind.
Structured summer is a bit of an oxymoron and I don't want to give the impression that every moment is accounted for and planned because it most certainly is not, BUT there is an overall routine we run on a daily basis that helps to keep us all sane. Before we get to the routine, I must tell you a few ground rules that might make me a bit unpopular. They are this:
1. I don't feel the obligation to entertain my kids all summer long.
2. I am a-okay if they find themselves bored and I do not take that boredom on as my problem to solve.
With that out of the way, let's get started. Part of the exhaustion of summer comes from constantly being asked what the rules are: can I stay up late tonight? Do I have chores today? Can friends come over to play? I've found if I set up some clear guidelines on the front end, it eliminates a lot of back and forth along with the ensuing frustration, throughout the summer. We tend to start with the very most important thing first:
1. Bedtimes. Before summer hit, I sat my kids down and had a quick heart-to-heart with them that was to serve as a clear reminder to them. We discuss what summer looks like for them: no school. And what summer looks like for mom & dad: everything still the same. Then we remind them that bedtimes will continue throughout the week as normal, while they may extend on the weekends depending on plans. They always moan and groan and while I sometimes feel like a party pooper, I remind myself I'm not a party pooper, I'm a mom. A mom who knows that well-rested kids are happier, more reasonable kids.
2. Morning Routines. Each morning we have the same routine. Some are early risers, so they get it done early, while others prefer to sleep late. I don't concern myself too much with a consistent wake up call, just the routine that follows. It involves a list of about 5-7 things they each need to accomplish before any screens can be used or friends can be called. Some days the lists are more intense, others fairly relaxed, but a typical list for my oldest might include the following:
Practice guitar, 20 minutes (Olivia practices piano instead)
100 free throws (Olivia works on her gymnastics instead, 10 round offs, 10 back bends, etc)
Swim 20 laps
Read scriptures, 20 minutes
Make bed + clean room
Play with Luke, 30 minutes
3. Lunch Time. In the past, with the ease of summer days, I've actually forgotten to feed my kids lunch. Time has passed unaccounted for and suddenly it is 2pm and we've either snacked our way right past lunch or each person has made their own lunch...creating 5 different messes to clean up in the process. I'm not perfect at this, but I try to gather us all for lunch. It's a good mid-point in the day to re-group and allows for us all to make lunch together and then clean it up together.
4. Quiet Time. Yes, I still try to create a form of quiet time each day even though all my kids are 'older' and I'm pretty sure they love it. This usually happens in the afternoons. Where we live it actually gets too hot in the afternoon to do much of anything, swimming included. This has naturally become our 'quiet time.' If they want to watch a movie or play video games, this is when that happens. It's an hour where we can all tuck ourselves away and do our own quiet thing. I've found it helpful to every single one of us.
5. Evening Routine. While it might appear that our entire day is accounted for, it most certainly is not. Each evening we re-group and do a 15 minute clean up. My house tends to take a beating most summer days and while we do morning chores, by the time evening rolls around, you can't tell one bit. And so before dinner, we do a 20 minute clean up. With 4 of us, that amounts to an hour's worth of work. We're usually still in swim suits from the day, so we turn up the music and I promise them they can head back to the pool when they're done. We vacuum floors, load dishes, take out the trash and put away all the things. We accomplish so much in these 15 minutes which allows me to enjoy the end of the day, knowing that once bedtime hits, I don't have a tornado to clean up by myself.
Rinse and repeat and our summer days tend to fly right on by. Another one of my favorite ways to treat a summer day right is to get up before all the kids. I know it sounds crazy, but I promise it's a game changer. I'm usually home from the gym before any of them are awake and that hour at the gym and hour at home while everyone is still waking up are quite possibly my two favorite hours. It allows me time to putter through the house uninterrupted and energized from my morning workout.
If you try these and love them, be sure to share about it and tag me @amygregory.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.