I LOVE summer break. I love everything about NO SCHEDULE. Just lazy mornings, leisurely sippin’ coffee on the patio, while scrolling through Instagram, or maybe I’m finishing up a chapter or two in my latest book, while cooking up a massive breakfast. Basically livin’ my best life. No lunch packing, no running through the house looking for a shoe, or missing homework assignment, no worries, no hurries, just lazy morning bliss. That was my life, until the 2nd day of summer hit……..
Imagine you hear a record scratching. That’s what it was like for me, on the second day summer. Just a mere day after summer release! As I was busy living my best life, you know, SLEEPING in my bed at 5:30 am, my youngest, jumped on me, and sweetly asked to play minecraft on his iPad. I was so tired, I said yes. All of the sudden, all 3 of my kids were sitting on the couch, eyes glued to their iPads, with snack wrappers all over the place. It was 6:15 am! What did I do?? This could not be happening!
Obvi, my kids wanted to live their best life too! This included, but wasn’t limited to; fighting, tattling, proclaiming their severe boredom every half hour, asking for the iPad 18 times before 7:00 am, watching TV, swimming in the pool, making messes everywhere, eating everything in the pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and items found under the couch. Oh and every craft supply scattered all over every surface I own. I’m sure you get the picture. The summer life I envisioned for myself quickly dissipated into a chaotic sunset, and I wasn’t sure it would ever rise again.
But would it? I had to think fast before the little’s took over. I needed a system STAT! I needed structure, but lazy structure, (I was tired of time schedules and lunch packing) and I needed it NOW! I immediately logged out of Instagram, and logged onto Pinterest to look for ideas. THERE WERE SO MANY IDEAS……. I found so many, I couldn’t pick just one, so I derived my own, based off of the ones which best met my needs.
I ultimately decided to create a summer to do list, to earn screen time. The iPad is a huge motivator in my house, the GOLDEN TICKET, so it would serve as my muse. I began jotting down a list I wanted each child to accomplish, everyday in our home in order to earn it. Education is important to me, so I incorporated those elements into the list as well. While school is in session they have math and reading each night, and I wanted to continue this practice. I also wanted to encourage getting along, and chores. My kids do age appropriate chores, for money each week, which is optional, (if they want money they will pull a chore to earn it) but I added on mandatory 2 chore completion daily, to the list, which I determine, based on what I need help with that day.
Once I was satisfied with my list, I needed to create a graphic to post, so the little’s would have a visual of the expectations I set, to earn their prized screen time. To design the flyer I used the Poster My Wall website. It’s a website to create posters, flyers and such. I use the free version of it quite often. Check it out here.
We complete math and reading each morning, after breakfast generally. My kids use the Rocket Math application on iTunes, and Xtra Math on the web. Check them out here and here. For reading, we use the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading log and earn a free book or two, each summer. Check it out if you haven’t. It’s FREE! The girls decide what they want to read, which makes it more fun for them. I am lucky to have avid readers. Even my 5 year old, who is into learning with BOB books, loves books. He enjoys his Minecraft books the most! He loves to learn new techniques to use when he plays. You can find them here.
In addition to our Summer Rules Poster, I created a poster with images (for non-readers) a while ago, for daily expectations throughout the school year, which I hung on my son’s closet door.
We are able to follow the list daily and will complete the math, reading, coloring, and creating portion, in the morning and again in the afternoon. This is without my help. For example, if we are going to make bath bombs, or slime, I will need to help with those types of activities. Most of the time, they will create something without me, while I am making dinner, or folding laundry in the evening time. Its a win, win, in my book!
On the weeks my kids have summer camp, we use a variation of this system, which still includes reading and math. Believe it or not, this simple system has restored order in our summer home. I wasn’t cut out to be a referee, or an entertainment host before coffee every morning. FOR REAL! The kids now know, they have a list they must complete, before they can watch TV, or use their iPad. If they ask, I simply point to the list on the refrigerator, without uttering a word. This stops them dead in their tracks and they start doing! Or if I am really honest, they might belt out a “OH MOM, I DON”T WANT TO DO THE LIST!”
I hope I have inspired you to proclaim order in your house by implementing something that has worked for us. It’s not perfect, as nothing is, but I gotta tell ya, it’s doing wonders for my sanity over here! How do you keep your kids productive during the summer? What is on your summer schedule? Do you have summer house rules? I would love hear what works for you. Happy Summer!