this is an update from a post first published last year (2011)
Eek! How am I going to survive Summer vacation with my kids? It is hard to believe that summer vacation is upon us. In FACT it is HERE! My kids are home today. So what’s a mom to do?
Have plans. (and back up plans)Don’t wait for things to happen. (I will be giving my kids a free week where nothing is going on). They have an extended day at school so they hardly get the down time. Now does that mean they will be watching TV next week? , not at all. But will they have no schedule? Not at all. it means they will have no activities or camps schedule for this time. It will be a time for them to relax and unwind from a year of learning.
Have a Schedule – but be flexible it is Summer after allThis is as important as having a plan. I find it gives me freedom knowing what I will be doing without waiting to see what will happen. Now depending on your activities your schedule can be more or less lose. I like to keep my kids on a basic daily schedule as well as a larger weekly one. A typical schedule for us would look something like this for us.
Daily Skeleton SchedulePlan Some fun activities
Weekly Schedule would look something like this unless it is a camp week.
- 9am Everyone must have breakfast by this time- the kitchen will close for maintenance(read cleaning)
- morning chores
- 12 –1 lunch time
- 1pm book time
- 3pm snack, mom tea time
- 3:30 afternoon chore time
- 7pm dinner
- 9pm all kids to bed, yes all even the teenage ones (Mom needs time to be with Dad and to work)
- Monday – Arts and Crafts at home day
- Tuesday – Swim day – home or out and about
- Wednesday – is a Free day for the kids
- Thursday – Library Day- They have free programs and a summer reading programming where the kids free vouchers for local attractions and restaurants
- Friday – Family Field Trip Day
- Saturday – Family time
- Sunday – Church time
We like to plan some fun activities to do as a family and with our friends. I like to have a yearly Tie Dye party, We will plan an outing to the lake or creek with friends, or the drive in movie theater. Activities don’t have to cost a lot and it allows us to get together with friends and connect over the summer. It started out as just something that I did with my kids and grew to include about a dozen families.
Don’t let learning go out the window during summer breaks.
While we don’t usually do structure school during the summer we continue to learn. We do the summer reading program at the Library and my older children will be picking a summer project to work on this summer. Pi would like to study French this year. I will be starting Pumpkin (8) on chapter books this summer. We will be doing a summer book challenge. In years past I have gotten work books for the kids for the next grade up, I am not sure if I will do this with Pumpkin this year. You may be asking why if my children have been in school all year do we do summer learning? It is important for me that my children know that learning is a life long pursuit and does not stop once you leave school.
Try new things
A few summers ago the girls tried a triathlon for the first time. They absolutely loved it. This year they want to do a “Mud Run”. Last year we let Pumpkin do his first triathlon.
Visit with Friends
This should be self explanatory but so often we get busy in our lives and don’t leave time for socialization. Plan time with friends.. Pack a picnic dinner and attend a free concert. Go to the drive-in (if you still have one) with some other families. It is great fun for everyone. Hold a block party or a barb-b-que,
Get away as a Family
You don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to be a long trip. Perhaps a weekend away. Camping counts if you like to camp. The idea is to spend time together as a family. Just with the ones who live in your house. Sometimes we just go camping in our back 5 (acres). When the kids were little it was far enough away from the house that it was special. We “hiked” there and set up the tents, cooked outside. Last year we took a quick weekend away and stayed at a monastery(very cost effective and family friendly - think youth hostel)
Visit Far Flung Family
Summer is the perfect time to spend time with family who live further away. Take a road trip or if you are lucky find some cheap summer fares. Last year we sent our 13 year old on the “tour de family” . She visited all the cousins and grandma, each for about a week at a time.
Have a theme week
Pick a theme around something that is happening. In the past we have had Olympic weeks, and with the Olympics coming up this summer it would be a fun one to do again.
Set aside rest time
Everyone needs rest time. Remember it is called R & R – “Rest and Relaxation”. I try to build down time into our schedule on a daily and weekly basis. Even big kids need time to just kick back and relax. When the kids were little it was a daily break time now that they are older we keep one day a week as an at home day. I make it a point to take the last two weeks before school starts as a time to slow down all the activities and get ready for school.
Take Advantage of free and low cost events in the community
One of my favorites. On bad weather days we are sure to take advantage of the free movies or $1 movies that are at local theaters. We absolutely love to attend the free summer concert series around town. I can’t think of a better way to expose your kids to a variety of music styles for next to nothing
Consider Day and Residential Camps for the Kids
Many communities have low cost day camps at community centers and churches. My kids love being able to go these camps. Social creatures that they are. They love the classes and silly songs that come along with camp. As they have gotten older they enjoy going away to residential camps. These camps don’t have to cost a lot of money and often they do have scholarships or camperships as they are called. I know of one young lady who has gone to horse back riding camp each year by simply selling girl scout cookies.
Consider Hosting an Exchange Student or Camp Counselors.
Growing up my family hosted French Students almost every summer from the time I was 14. It was a great experience for our family. Last summer we hosted 1/2 of the teaching team from Totus Tuus at our home. These college students spend their summer teaching the Catholic Faith to children in a fun faith filled curriculum. I have had friends sponsor soccer coaches from England who teach at summer soccer camps. Nothing makes summer go by faster than increasing your family for a short period.
Summer always seems like a long span of time for us, until we start doing all sorts of things. Just be careful it is very easy for your summer to get overbooked and not be the relaxation you were looking for. What are your plans for surviving summer vacation with the kids this year?