Here in the western hemisphere, the summer season has officially started for most of us! I have pulled out our shorts and flip flops to wear in the warmer weather. And most kids are done with school so summer vacation has begun!
I am a big time planner and love to have checklists for pretty much everything. Naturally I started to make a list of all the things I wanted to do this summer. And then I got majorly overwhelmed! Imagine that. 🙂
Thinking back to my own summers growing up, the things I remember most are not the planned activities or structured days. What I remember are the simple things like eating dinners on the outside patio, visiting and spending time with family, playing outside as much as possible and just having fun with my family.
So I decided to take a step back and think of how I could simplify our upcoming summer, while still having a fantastic time! This is what I came up with and I hope that one or two ideas can help you to simplify your summer as well!
Less is more. The sheer number of things I wanted to do was ridiculous. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t plan anything for the summer. I think there is a happy balance between having a completely free schedule and having some things planned out. For us, if we didn’t have anything planned, then we’d spend most days asking each other “what should we do today?” and then the whole day would go by and we just hung out at home. And there’s nothing wrong with hanging out at home! I think having days just relaxing at home are super important. But I also think having a few things planned will help change things up and keep kiddos (and adults) from getting antsy!
Have a few easy activities ready to go at all times. My kiddos are 4 and 1 and the 4 year old especially thrives when I do planned activities with him. The 1 year old is happy working on her gross motor skills like walking and crawling and doing whatever big brother is doing! The 4 year old does pretty well playing by himself and entertaining himself with his toys, but there’s no way he would be happy doing that all day. So that is where having a few new-to-your-kids coloring books, playdough, or fun outside games at your fingertips come into play. These shouldn’t take a ton of prep or supplies, but just thinking ahead and having the activities in your back pocket can really help prevent boredom and kiddos getting ants in their pants! For more ideas follow my Pinterest board for Simple Kid Activities.
Create a bucket list with your kids. Like I said before, less is more here. Limit the number of items on the list and don’t forget about free things like library story hours, farmers markets and concerts in the park. Kids don’t know if something costs money or not, they really just want to spend time with you! If they are old enough ask your kids what they want to include. Their answers may surprise you!
Get outside every day. Make a list of the parks and playgrounds near your home and walk there! You could even pack a lunch and blanket and eat in the grass. Hold yourself accountable by joining Simple Families’ 100 Days of Outdoor Play Challenge.
Ideas for outdoor play:
- Bubbles (DIY recipe)
- Go for a walk
- Sidewalk chalk
- Scavenger hunt (examples)
- Ride bikes
- Even more ideas!
Simplify lunches and meals. I do soooo much better with preparing healthy meals for my family when I have taken the time to have a plan. I do fairly well with dinners but I fall short on lunches. To the point that whenever I tell my son it’s lunch time his immediate first response is “peanut butter and jelly!” I think we could definitely use some variety in our lunches. 😉 I don’t think we need something different every day but peanut butter and jelly every single day is not a very good way to widen my son’s food preferences.
Here are a few easy lunch ideas I’m going to try incorporating into our routine this summer:
Spend a few minutes on Sunday prepping for the week. Of course there is a balance between planning every second of every day and having a complete free for all. Looking at the calendar for the week lets me know if there is an event I wanted to attend or if the week is a good week for the library. This way I don’t waste time trying to think of something to do only to realize I don’t have all the ingredients or pieces to make it work. At a minimum I make a tentative meal plan, look at upcoming events and appointments and think about what else I want to add into the week. Then I can get groceries and make sure I have what I need when the day comes!
Declutter before the summer. I don’t mean declutter your whole house, because that would be crazy pants. But spending a little bit of time at the start of the summer will pay off big time. Go through all the school paperwork and decide what to keep and what to toss. Go through your pantry and get rid of expired foods. Donate the toys that don’t get used anymore. Now is also a good time to go through clothes since you’ll be switching to summer clothes and putting away the winter clothes. There will be less cleaning, less picking up toys, and you will be able to spend more time with your family.
If you need help decluttering download our 8 step checklist here.
Bonus tip: Develop a flexible routine. Whether you are home full time with your kiddos or you work outside the home, or a combination of the two like me, having a routine helps things run smoother. I think it helps kids to have an idea of what comes next. When my son gets bored, he usually gets into trouble. Having a time block schedule really helps me to stay on track and not waste the days!
To see my flexible routine for the summer download the worksheet below! If you need help setting up a morning routine read my series here (p.s. there is a free worksheet on the last post in the series!).