We had our first official at-home day of summer break yesterday -- and it did not go well. After 10 days of being constantly entertained during our vacation, my girls had a hard time settling into a routine.
I always forget how difficult these first few days of summer are for everyone. I work from home year-round, and my girls forget that I need to get work done because during the school year, I work when they're at school. In the summer, we have to make the schedule work so that I can get some work done, and they can get some of my attention.
It usually takes us about a week to hit our stride when it comes to the schedule. While summer is a more relaxed, fun time at our house, we have to have enough structure to get everything done that needs to be done. People often ask me how I set up our summer days so that we have time for work and for play, so today, I thought I'd share with you what summer looks like in our house in the hopes that it will spur you to start thinking about what your summer schedule looks like.
Summer should have plenty of time for making memories and having fun, but it should also be a time when our kids learn the value of work and learn some new things. That takes some planning on our part.
Our summer days typically have three parts -- chores, learning and fun. It's a balance that can tilt more toward fun one day and more toward learning and chores another. But all three are important.
Chores. This is the part of the day my kids like least, but learning to work is an important skill. Learning to do things correctly and with a good attitude is part of growing up. It's important that our kids learn to work at tasks they don't particularly like because not everything we do in life is fun. We want to teach our kids to live out the words of Colossians 3:23: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."
Every morning, my girls have a to-do list that has to be done before anything else. It includes things like making their beds, doing their assigned chore for the day, and practicing their instruments. Throughout the summer, we'll have a few days where we'll work on a big project around the house together.
Learning. While most kids view summer as a break from learning, I think it's the perfect time to get them focused on learning some things that they don't learn in school. Whether it's character qualities, history or reading, summer gives us unfettered access to our kids' minds and hearts without the distraction of all they're trying to learn from school. We can choose to take advantage of that time or we can let it slip by. Proverbs 1:8-9 says "Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." Summer is the perfect time for a father's instruction and a mother's teaching to really sink in.
My girls are required to read for 30 minutes every day. Their screen time (TV, computers, etc.) is directly tied to how many minutes a day they read. We also take trips to local places that have some educational value. This summer, I'm planning excursions to the Negro League Baseball Museum and the World War I Museum. We're addressing the character quality of kindness through our summer adventure, The Button Project.
Fun. Summer should be a time for lots and lots of fun. After a year of school, our kids deserve some time to just be kids. So much of school stifles the imagination, so summer is the time to let imaginations run wild around here. Proverbs 17:22 says "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." We want our kids to have joyful spirits, so leaving plenty of time for fun in our summers, allows them to experience the joy of friends and family.
I usually plan some fun things for the summer, but a lot of the time, I let my girls decide what they want to do. My older daughter wants to learn to decorate cakes this summer, so we'll be baking together and making a mess in the kitchen. My younger daughter is interested in hieroglyphics, so we're learning about the different hieroglyphic symbols. We'll have water balloon fights and silly string wars. Some days, we'll simply hang out at the pool.
Summertime is precious time with our kids. We can make the most of it or we can let it slip by. When we're intentional with that time that our kids aren't focused on school, we can strengthen our kids' work ethics, their love of learning and their sense of fun. All it takes is a little creativity and planning on our part.