Are you secretly, or not so secretly wondering how you will stay sane this summer with your kids out of school? They’ll get on each other’s nerves, they’ll get on your nerves… What is the secret to avoiding cries of “this is boring!” and “she’s breathing my air”? Take a deep breath, here 4 things you can do to keep your sanity in the summer heat.
Ask any school teacher and they will tell you that structure and routines are the glue that hold kids together. They like to know what is coming next. You don’t have to micromanage every minute of the day, but breaking up the day into chunks and assign them activities will save you from a lot of whining.
Write the schedule down and post it in a place that is easy to see. This way when someone says, “can I play on the tablet now?” You can point to the chart and say, “at 3:00 dear, it’s 11am now, you can….”
Here is a sample Daily Schedule:
7-9- Eat breakfast, clean up kitchen, get dressed, make beds
9-11 – Outside time! Ride bikes, swim, play dates, park
11-12 – coloring, reading, board games,
12-1- Quiet time: Legos, reading, blocks, or doll houses,
1-3 – Outside time!
3-5 – Make dinner/electronics, inside play, chores
5-6 – Eat dinner!
6-8 – Clean up and get ready for bed
One on One Time
Sometimes as parents of more than one child we can forget how desperately each of our children needs individual time from us. It can be hard when the house is full of kids to carve out space for time with individual children.
You can easily spend some one on one time with your children when they are playing indoors. Sit with them and talk about their drawing, help build some Legos. Let your other children know that, “I’m having some one on one time with _____ right now. I’ll come see you/ speak with you in 5 minutes.”
You don’t have to do a marathon of 30 minutes with each child. Announce that you are having one on one time with ____ , and set a 5 minute timer on your phone. Give that child the majority of your attention for those 5 minutes.
You might be surprised at how quickly your children respond to the attention. Be firm about not being interrupted, and if you are interrupted, pause your timer, deal with the interruption (toddler meltdown) and then resume the timer when things are calm.
Use Electronics Wisely
Electronics can be your friend. They can aid you in preparing dinner without 16,000 interruptions. They can allow you to put the baby down for a nap, they can even give you some time to use the restroom uninterrupted.
To much screen time is unwise but, thunderstorms and heavy rain always merit a movie at our house, if they happen during outside time. Have your kids complete an educational activity before getting to play their favorite game.
Use Typing.com to teach them how to type correctly instead of picking. KahnAcademy has math, computer coding, and all kinds of other subjects they can choose from. It will do them some good, and let you get another batch of laundry started.
I know it sounds selfish, and it is, but you have to remember that having time to yourself is important to avoid burn out. You’ll spend a lot of time with your kids this summer. You’ll do a lot of things they like to do. Don’t sacrifice the things that help you recharge.
If you feel great after a cup of coffee and a yoga video in the morning, make that Quiet time at your house. If your toddler takes a nap in the afternoon, schedule quiet time then. Make sure your kids schedule fits you personality and ability.
Don’t give up. Putting structure in place will take a few weeks. You may have to explain what quiet time entails every day for the first few weeks. You may have to tell your bookworm, introvert that he is welcome to continue reading his book outside because it is Outside time.
Add some structure to your day and you may find that the bickering and whining drop perceptibly. What are your staying sane tricks in the summer?