**This is a “Summer Survival Guide” guest post by Laura Hernandez**
This summer is set up to be a summer unlike any other! I am here to help. And instead of adding more crazy to an already chaotic year, let’s get back to the basics. I want to help you set up simple routines and easy systems that take back a little control for you, Mama, and give a bit of control to your kiddos, too.
Here are five ways we thrive at home with our ten kids during the long summer days.
There are a few key themes that come up over and over when I coach Mamas. One of those is Teamwork. It is often “easiest” for Mama to do all the work while the kids play because teaching them to do the work themselves is, well, hard! It takes time and extra effort to get them working. But it is worth it on so many levels.
In our house, when everyone wakes up they have set jobs to do. The jobs are the same every day. This keeps arguing and excuses and fighting with you and siblings to a minimum. Give your kids age-appropriate jobs like putting pajamas away, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up breakfast, feeding animals, etc.
The best way to keep your sanity this summer is to create a team mentality. You are all in this together. Whoever is living in your house should also be contributing to the household work. In our home we have morning, afternoon, and evening jobs.
After breakfast and jobs, it is time for educational work. I know, I know. You just got done homeschooling for three months. But the best way to keep that learning up (and help your kids to feel accomplished and productive) is to do a little learning during the summer.
We scale down school a bit but still love to have our kids stretch themselves academically. Every child is different, and you will know best (especially right now!) what will benefit your child to practice over the next two months.
In our family, everyone is to do:
- One hour of math (Khan Academy or Sumdog)
- One hand writing lesson (Handwriting Without Tears)
- One typing lesson (Typing.com)
Other families I’ve coached have implemented activities like reading one chapter, reading for one hour, coding, drilling flashcards with siblings, or learning using apps/sites like Starfall or Reading Eggs.
After they are done with their learning work, they have free time until lunch. Which leads me to…
We have lunch at noon and have a repeated weekly menu to help with decision fatigue on my end. Decision Fatigue is when the act of making many decisions over a period of time decreases the quality of the decisions made. One thing I LOVE to coach Mamas on is eliminating decisions where possible to decrease this phenomenon in their house.
For Example… on Mondays, we have chicken nuggets and fruit. On Tuesdays, we always eat hot dogs and carrots, etc. This sets expectations (our second theme word) which helps curb whining and also helps me with planning. And, bonus, it eliminates the time I spend staring blankly into the fridge!
We do this at dinner, too. We have theme nights for dinner and make menus weekly within those categories… i.e. taco night, grilling night, take out night, pasta night, breakfast for dinner night, etc! Batchworking (third theme word!) the planning and prepping of meals will take a weight off you, Mama.
After lunch time is QUIET TIME! This is a must in our house so that I can get recharged and get some work done. The kids have a choice of activities that will keep them quiet and minimize interruptions to my work hours.
Giving kids limited choices throughout the day helps them feel like they have a bit of control in a time that’s out of control. It also eliminates whining because they’re in charge of making some decisions about how they spend their time.
We love open-ended games and (shh!) even sneaking in some additional learning…Legos, audiobooks, podcasts for kids, cards, coloring, board games, and Magna-Tiles. In the Mama System’s Summer Survival Guide, we have a whole list of ideas within these categories for you!
When quiet time is over they have free time until afternoon jobs when they clean up a Zone Area and help get ready for dinner and then…
Here is the best part about summer for us. We have daily theme nights! We have set expectations for everything else, so let’s do the same for fun.
These nights can be as elaborate or simple as you would like to make them. Here are some things we do and you’ll notice this is another easy way to give kids limited choices:
- Sunday Sundaes – It is simply a bowl of ice cream and they get to choose their sprinkles. This is not fancy or difficult but they all love it and look forward to it every week.
- Culture Night – Each week, we pick a different culture to learn about. We have kids find a popular dish, music from their culture, and find 5 fun facts that they can share with us at dinner.
- More Ideas – Movie Night (mattresses in living room, candy in boxes and popcorn, outside movie), Water Night (swimming, water balloons, sprinkler on the trampoline), Family Bake-Off (the kids divide into teams and compete for the best dessert), Something New Night (try something new together as a family) and Game Night.
So here’s the bottom line… In this summer of continued chaos, let’s make a plan for routine and calm within our homes! Turn your family into a team. Set expectations for work and for fun. Batchwork your meal planning. Simplify your life! This will carry into your next school year and set the tone for years to come. You got this, Mama.