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The {Secret} Key To A Stress-Free Summer With Kids

on June 4 | in Parenting | by | with 8 Comments

summer-activities-for-kids

Today DaNelle from Weed Em’ And Reap is stopping by to share some tips for a stress-free summer with kids. Thank you, DaNelle!

Just imagine it.

It’s a beautiful summer day. You are relaxing outside on a lounge chair in the shade, sipping a freshly squeezed lemonade (that you made yourself of course) & enjoying the cool breeze. Your children have been playing together for hours in the backyard, and with each breeze of the wind you can hear their joyful giggles. It’s almost nap time, and you plan on using that time to finish all your laundry and to prepare a delicious & nourishing dinner.

What?  Isn’t your summer like that too? *wink*wink*

Let me make a small confession. I used to panic a bit at the thought of spending all day with my kids. When my children attended public school, I became so used to them being gone that I wondered what the heck I would do with them all day during the summer. Now that my children attend a co-op school where they are gone only 3 days a week, I have since learned that having kids at home isn’t stressful at all, and that, with a little bit of planning, can be truly wonderful & stress-free.

So, what’s the {secret} KEY?

In 2010 I was struggling with a lot of personal health issues and I needed a stress-free summer. Desperately. I realized the thing that drove me MOST crazy was the constant “What are we going to do today?” or the infamous “I’m bored.” statement, always accompanied by a long sigh and a slow slump to the floor. I needed a REAL SOLUTION, one that was sure to last the entire summer. And our solution turned out to work beautifully, year after year! So much that my kids beg for it! Our key to a stress free summer was our infamous SUMMER CALENDAR!

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Each year, we create a calendar just for our summer– I simply bought a poster board, some funky lettering, and printed up June, July & August calendars. At the beginning of the summer we spend an entire day “getting ready” for summer. Together we:

    • De-cluttered our bedrooms, packed away pants & long-sleeved shirts, and gave away old toys to a local charity.
    • Next we created a summer daily schedule. Every year is different depending on how ambitious we feel and the goals/needs of our family that particular year.

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Finally we filled up that calendar! At first there wasn’t much to fill up. We started with penciling in our vacations & the day school starts again. Next was camps/local classes we’ve already signed up for, along with a summer movie schedule at the local theater. We usually find free classes at our local library & town’s parks & rec center. The best part is at the end of the summer we can look back and remember all of our adventures together.

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For all types of parenting styles

Whether you are a schedule-loving Type A parent, or a laid-back Type B parent, your kids will still thrive on some sort of schedule. In my experience, children crave routine as well as security. Knowing that there was something scheduled for tomorrow made them okay that nothing was happening today. Even if you don’t have many things scheduled for the summer (and trust me you have more than you think!) it’s still important to provide your children with a visual to estimate time. If your kids are anything like mine, they think Christmas was yesterday, and that their birthday is “coming up soon” even though we just celebrated it last month. This really helps kids establish a timeline, and helps organize those little busy minds.

A word to the wise: Don’t overdo it

Remember to schedule “down-time” so your kids can be, well, kids. Some of the best summers have been when my kids have used their time to create & explore! Having a schedule doesn’t mean you need to be constantly entertaining your children. Last summer, I gathered as many boxes as I could find, bought two rolls of masking tape, handed them some kid-proof scissors, and let ‘em have at it. 3 days later — yes, they literally spent 3 whole days on this — we had a castle/town/village masterpiece. They continued to play with it for the rest of the summer. Best. Idea. Ever.

Another year, I decided to send my kids on an “adventure.” I packed them each a backpack full of supplies – snacks, water, blankets, flashlights, a magnifying glass, a compass, and of course, some paper & pencil for their “treasure map”. I pushed them into the backyard with a “feigned” worry for their safety and wished them well on their “adventure”. You’d never believe the dangerous things they encountered in “the jungle”! Alligators, hunters, and of course pirates! They buried their treasure safe & sound and to this day they won’t tell me where it is for fear that if I am captured by pirates myself, I will spill the beans!

My children - master builders.

My children – master builders.

Additional Ideas:

If you want to break down each day into something fun, try labeling each day a fun name like Make-it Monday (crafts, building projects, fort building, etc.) Take-a-Trip Tuesday (the park, a museum, arcade, etc.), Wet Wednesday (swimming, sprinklers, splash pad), Thinking Thursday (baking, problem solving games, library, etc.), & Friend Friday (it’s much easier when everybody gets to invite a friend over on the same day:) For more information on labeling each day, see here.

The {secret} KEY is secretly simple:

My favorite thing about the summer is those wonderfully lazy days. I like to schedule some fun activities, but I definitely don’t feel the need to be constantly entertaining my children. You shouldn’t feel that way either. Children need to be creatively inspired, not just handed activity after activity. You, as a parent, intuitively know what your children need. Use that intuition to spark their creativity, and by doing so, you’ll have a stress-free summer in the process!

What are your favorite ways to keep kids busy in the summer?

About DaNelle:

424802_433164106749488_1227452625_nDaNelle is a mother of 2 children, a nursing school dropout, and the creator of the blog Weed ‘em & Reap.  DaNelle started to take an interest in real food when suffering from two debilitating chronic diseases. Her plunge into real food improved not only her health and helped her to successfully lose 30 pounds, but also aided in the reversal of her son’s severe asthma. On a mission to create a farm of her own, DaNelle forced, or rather ‘lovingly persuaded’ her husband to purchase a ranch home on an acre of land and transform it into their very own urban farm. DaNelle and her husband raise goats, sheep and chickens. DaNelle blogs at Weed ‘em & Reap where she writes about the reversal of disease, weight loss through real food, common food myths, and her funny farm experiences.

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8 Responses to The {Secret} Key To A Stress-Free Summer With Kids

  1. Jen says:

    THANK YOU for this post! I think you’re onto something with the “kids need schedules” thing. Now to make my supply list for that chart . . . .

  2. Kendal says:

    Oh my goodness, I’m going to hand my kids some masking tape and a few boxes and see how many chapters I can get through of my favorite book. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Anna says:

    We have done something like this and it totally worked for us. Turns out I am not a schedule person but my kids are :)

  4. Natalie says:

    My first day of summer vacation was much more hectic than I planned. I will be making my family a version of this. Thank you!

  5. Jen says:

    Hi! I stumbled across your blog today and have to say I absolutely love it! I added it to my blogger dashboard reading list. I look forward to perusing all of your previous posts. :)

  6. Amy says:

    I know what you mean by over doing it. Last summer seemed to fly by. A calendar is such a great idea. I’m sure we’ll be making one soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. [...] Ahhhhh. Summertime bliss is just around the corner. Oh how I love summer!!! And since we moved into our new home, I have felt major burn-out not only on my wallet for all the gas consumed, but also for the long drive in the morning and afternoon it takes to get the six-year-old to and from school (thankfully next year we will be five minutes away from his new school). Soooo….it has made me even more ready to say hello to summertime and bye to scrambling the oldest into the car! I’m done with the rush, rush, rush. I will admit though, summers tend to be a bit strained for me at the beginning because of the transition of managing working from home while having the very ACTIVE kiddo home full time…(and this year I will have two around me!) but…last night I finally finished our entire week-by-week summer activity schedule and now I am ready and excited! I am going to put the plans up on poster board this weekend so we can get at it!!! (http://www.mommypotamus.com/the-secret-key-to-a-stress-free-summer-with-kids/) [...]

  8. This post brings back memories! My children are teenagers now, and life is very different. I’ll always treasure those summer days spent at the beach, and rainy days spent reading picture books and playing board games.

    Nature immersion is the missing link for so people of all ages these days. You’re so lucky you have enough land for a farm – it’s such a wonderful way to raise healthy eaters and environmentally conscious kids. Plus, children need to play in the dirt, not only to connect with the earth, but to be exposed to the good bacteria that fuels a healthy digestive system. Organic soil is loaded with it!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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