School year schedules and routines provide us with great opportunities to create foundational habits in our children. But what happens when summer rolls around? Schedules become much looser, therefore less routine is needed and habits begin to fall by the wayside. How are we supposed to get through the summer without losing everything we have built with our child during the school year? My hope is to help you conquer the summer with some healthy habits and tips we have put into practice.
Creating good habits for summer activities is something we have been trying to fine tune this summer and we have now started to see some success! Believe it or not my girlies start back school the 24th of July; that’s right my friend, the 24th. Our summer break is almost done! Since we live in Arizona and it’s so HOT here in the summers, a lot of the school districts have year round school. Our summers in AZ are like most midwest winters, you can’t really be outside too long. And everyone says, “but it’s a dry heat!” Let me tell you, 120 degrees regardless of the humidity is no joke, and by July all the pools begin to feel like bath water too. (Don’t feel too badly for us though, when the weather is beautiful we have a two and a half week fall break, almost three week Christmas break and a two and a half week spring break.)
Getting back to summers, just because school is out and there’s not quite as much to do, doesn’t mean good habits should go out the window. So what does it look like to maintain those good habits over the summer months? How much TV do we allow? Does it start first thing in the morning? How many minutes should they read? How much playtime together is expected? Should they review math over the summer? How long should they play outside? (applies only if you don’t live in the desert).
Here are a few guiding principles:
1. Expectations. Setting up expectations for your children is probably the most important thing. My girlies do so much better when they know what to expect. It’s one way for us as parents to help them succeed. First though, you’ll have to establish what priorities and habits you want to lay down for the summer months for your family.
2. Summer Rules. Our summer rules are a combination of things we already had in place and those of others who have gone before us on this journey! They consist of a list of activities that must be done before they get any screen time of any sort. Our girlies didn’t initially love the system we put in place but quickly adapted to our rules. So again, it’s all about expectations. Our rules are as follows and can be done in any order:
- Read for 30 minutes
- Play piano for 30 minutes
- Make your bed and clean up your room
- Eat breakfast
- Brush your teeth and get dressed
- 20 minutes of writing/coloring
- Make/build something creative
- Clean up one room
- Play for 20 minutes with siblings
- Help someone in the family
Remember every family looks differently so adapt to what activities and habits you want to build and instill into your sweet kiddos.
3. Follow through. Don’t lose heart, it might take some time to build those habits but with continued encouragement and dare I say, even a reward system, you can create some great habits. Don’t forget, habits also lend a hand in creating character in our sweet littles so keep pressing on!
4. Grace. As with everything in life, when something is being taught, there needs to be room for growth. And with growth come mistakes. So, give your kiddos some grace as you are establishing the habits you want to cultivate over the summer months. One of our points of grace is that Saturday and Sunday they get a break from summer rules. Now this doesn’t mean they don’t have to do their normal chores such as making bed and cleaning up after themselves, it just means they don’t have to check everything off their list for those days.
Blessings as you continue to grow as a parent and find what works best with your sweet littles in this journey of parenting!