Whether you’re a stay-at-home, work-at-home, or work-outside-the-home mom, summer vacation can be…complicated. As much as we look forward to relaxing on school routines and getting a break from extracurricular activities, finding ways to keep kids occupied and entertained for 8+ weeks can be pretty overwhelming.
I’ve learned the hard way that children need consistency and structure, and with less than 6 weeks until summer vacation starts, I’ve been thinking a lot about summer routine ideas for kids lately. While my little one spends the majority of her summer in day camp since both my husband and I work full-time, we always spend a week together at the beginning and end of summer, as well as long weekends and the occasional ‘mom and me’ day. And let’s not forget about sick days!
If you’re looking for summer routine ideas for kids to help you rock summer like the mom boss that you are, these ideas are sure to inspire you!
1) DITCH THE SCHEDULE AND CREATE A ROUTINE INSTEAD
While the idea of creating – and sticking to – a strict schedule during the summer months may sound great in theory, it can actually cause more stress than its worth. I find it much more helpful to create a rough routine of how you would like the day to unfold so that you have some sort of structure in place, with the flexibility to spend more time on the activities you are enjoying without feeling rushed.
2) CREATE A SUMMER BUCKET LIST AHEAD OF TIME
If you find it difficult to keep your kids entertained when they aren’t in school and want to be more intentional with your time this summer, consider creating a bucket list so you always have ideas to draw from. I suggest creating these well in advance of summer vacation, allowing you and your little ones to add ideas over time as they pop into your head. I also suggest creating 2 bucket lists – one filled with places you’d like to go, and another with projects and activities you’d like to do at home.
3) DIVIDE YOUR DAY INTO BLOCKS OF TIME
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have a thing for productivity. I geek out over anything that will help optimize my time and help me live more purposefully, and if you’re looking for summer routine ideas for kids, time-blocking will be a game-changer for you! As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of creating summer schedules for kids, but I think it’s essential to have a plan of action each day. So, rather than scheduling every hour of every day, I recommend organizing your day into chunks.
For example, you may reserve your mornings for household chores and running errands, enforce an hour of quiet time after lunch, schedule fun activities for the afternoon, and organize independent activities for your kids to engage in while you get dinner on the table.
4) MAKE MORNING CHORES MANDATORY
I like to get all of our household chores and errands over and done with in the morning so I feel like we’ve been productive and accomplished something. I found this much more challenging when my daughter was younger, but as she’s gotten older I’ve realized that assigning household chores can actually strengthen my relationship with her. When you empower your child, give him/her more accountability, and teach him/her important life skills, you simultaneously show your little one that you trust him/her and that he/she is a contributing part of the family, which can do wonders in boosting a child’s self-esteem!
Rewarding kids for completing chores can also be extremely motivating, which is never a bad thing, and you can tackle this so many different ways. Allowing your child to earn special privileges or paying them an allowance are both great options. I’ve also found that if we have a fun activity planned for the afternoon and I make that activity contingent on getting all of our chores and errands done (without whining and arguing!), my daughter is much more motivated to help out.
5) PRIORITIZE ONE-ON-ONE TIME
If you’re looking for summer routine ideas for kids, one important but often overlooked parenting tip is to spend quality time with your child. I’m not talking about watching TV, going to the grocery store, or spending time with other families at the park. I’m talking about distraction-free, one-on-one time.
I was first given this advice when my daughter entered the Terrible Twos, and every single time I notice a spike in poor behaviors, the first thing I do is evaluate how much solid one-on-one time we are spending together.
Keep in mind that spending quality time together doesn’t need to be an olympic event where you try to recreate crafts you see on Pinterest – it just needs to be deliberate and intentional. Turn off your computer and put your smartphone away and give your child your undivided attention. Play a game, read a book, go out for ice cream, or just sit and talk for 20 minutes. There are so many simple ways you can squeeze quality time into your day, and we have 75 ideas to inspire you right here!
6) ENFORCE QUIET TIME
No matter how old my daughter becomes, our household runs smoother when we enforce regular quiet time so we can rest and recharge. I find this especially important during the summer months when the weather is hot and humid and we’re more active than usual. I usually let my daughter read or play quietly in her room, and sometimes allow her time on her iPad as a reward for exceptional behavior, and use this time to empty my inbox or get caught up with work.
7) CREATE A VISUAL ROUTINE
Created using pictures, icons, words, etc., visual routines are a visual representation of a sequence of events. You’ve probably seen a visual routine in your child’s classroom listing all of the activities the class will be participating in each day, which helps kids know how their day will unfold, what’s expected on them, etc.
Again, I’m not really a fan of creating detailed summer schedules as I feel it puts undo pressure on everyone and creates needless stress, but I do find it helpful to have a visual outline of our week mapped out ahead of time. This helps give a bit of structure and purpose to our days, keeps us accountable, and prevents my sweet girl from feeling bored!
I like to plan out our week on Sundays, and since we’ve already established how to allocate blocks of time and have a bucket list of ideas to draw from, it’s an easy task to do together, but helps create excitement for the week ahead. You can make your visual schedule as simple or fancy as you want to. I personally find a basic weekly dry erase calendar does the trick. We use this magnetic weekly calendar and love it!
8) RELAX ON RULES
While I like to be consistent with enforcing the rules I choose to govern our household, and have certain things I will not budge on, I think summer vacation (or any vacation for that matter) should be a time where we let loose. It’s a time for the entire family to unwind and recharge, and if an extra hour of screen time and a later bedtime is going to make our day run smoother, so be it.
9) DON’T OVERDO IT!
We live in a day and age where we are programmed to over-schedule ourselves and our children as much as humanly possible, and while I enjoy being busy, I also know my daughter’s limits. Heat and humidity combined with seasonal allergies are not our best friend, so I try to balance our indoor and outdoor time as much as possible. And while we certainly have days where we squeeze a lot of stuff in at one go, I try my best to ensure the following day is more low key to ensure we don’t get overtired and irritable.
10) ORGANIZE PLAYDATES AND GET-TOGETHERS
My last tip for those who are looking for summer routine ideas for kids is to schedule playdates and time with friends and family wherever possible. Your children will enjoy playing with other kids, and a little adult interaction will do wonders for your soul!
I hope this collection of summer routine ideas for kids proves helpful to you. Remember to plan ahead, prioritize one-on-one time, and enforce quiet time, and give yourself permission to relax and create memories with your children.