7 Ways to Have a Simpler Summer with Kids + FREE Worksheet

7 ways to have a simpler summer with kids + free worksheet

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. ūüôā

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!

Click over to learn how to simplify your summers with kids + free worksheet

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!

Here are 160 ideas to get you started!  Or check out the Simpler Summer guide from Melissa Camara Wilkins for a list of simple activities to make the summer memorable!

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:

Click over to learn how to simplify your summers with kids + free worksheet

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. ūüėČ 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!).

click here to get your simple summer worksheet

What do you do to simplify your summers?


Making Over My Mornings: Days 12-14 plus a FREE worksheet

Making over my mornings. Click over to download your free worksheet.

Today I am going to talk about my experience with the final three days of the Make Over Your Morning course by Crystal Paine. If you need to catch up, read this post about why I decided to complete this course and read the following posts for my key takeaways so far:

The last three days talk about how to eliminate decision fatigue, what to do when we fail, and how to continue the momentum created during the course.

Scroll to the bottom to download your FREE worksheet to help you complete the Make Over Your Mornings course for yourself.

Eliminating Decision Fatigue

I  learned that the quality of your decision making skills is inversely proportional to the number of decisions you make.  In other words, the more decisions you make in the day, the worse your decisions become and the longer it takes to make them.

By cutting down on the little decisions you make during your day, your mind is better able to tackle the bigger decisions that come up.  One way to cut down on the little decisions is to implement a system or develop a habit.

Crystal recommends picking 1-2 areas where a system would help eliminate decision fatigue.  Some examples are meal planning, what to wear, or activities for the kiddos.  I decided to work on implementing a meal plan for the next few weeks to see how it frees up my mind to tackle bigger decisions in my day.

Making over my mornings - click over to join me on this challenge

How to overcome failure

“Nothing truly valuable in life is accomplished without some blood, sweat and tears.”

The question is not how to overcome failure IF it happens, it’s how to overcome failure WHEN it happens. ¬†This might sound a little defeating, but stay with me for a minute. ¬†When we set up a great morning routine on paper, there will inevitably be things that come up in real life that may cause the need to tweak your routine. ¬†And that is totally ok! ¬†This doesn’t mean that you are a failure for setting up the routine wrong. ¬†It just means that life happens and you need to tweak your routine a little bit to accommodate.

“The point of a morning routine is not to create a rigid schedule that never changes, but to have a routine that serves you and your family well.”

Habits definitely take time to stick, so don’t rush things. ¬†Let the routine gradually morph and change as you go along and see what works and what doesn’t work.

When something doesn’t work how you would like, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why did you fail?
  • Are you trying to be someone else and implement their routine?

Based on your answers see if there is something you can change that will have a positive impact on your mornings.

In 3 weeks evaluate how things are going and make adjustments as needed.

Next steps

“It is my desire that you will take the tools you‚Äôve gleaned from this course to not only make over your mornings, but to ultimately approach your entire life with more purpose and intention. You‚Äôve only got one life; make the most of it!”

Crystal encourages us to take ownership of the course and make it our own. We all have different circumstances and goals so the outcome of the course will be different for everyone.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my experience with the Make Over Your Mornings course! I have learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy and successful in the mornings.  But I know that I have a LONG way to go and this is just the beginning.

FREE WORKSHEET

To help you complete your own journey to Make Over Your Mornings, I have created a FREE worksheet!  As I worked through the course I wished I had some place to organize my thoughts and ideas.  I hope that this helps you as much as it helped me!

click here for your free worksheet

How did you do on the last three days?

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.


Making Over My Mornings: Days 9-11

Click over to learn more about my initial morning routine!

Today I am going to talk about my experience with days 9-11 of the Make Over Your Morning course by Crystal Paine. If you need to catch up, read this post about why I decided to complete this course, click here for my key takeaways from days 1-4 and here for takeaways from days 5-8.

In days 9-11 you actually start to nail down a morning routine that serves you and your family.  The course also discusses resistance that you may face when making a change to your morning and how to persevere.  Finally, day 11 talks about the importance of diet and exercise and how to incorporate those activities into your morning routine.

Developing a Morning Routine is Personal

“Don‚Äôt compare your morning routine with mine. No two families are alike and no two humans are wired in the same manner!”

I LOVE the quote above because it is a great reminder that we are all different and in different phases of life.  If I try to do exactly what someone else did I will probably not be very successful in the long term.  We each need to develop a routine that works for us in our specific phase of life.

A successful morning routine will not happen the first time you develop your routine. ¬†It will take trial and error and will likely need to be tweaked as you see what works and doesn’t work for you and your family. ¬†Do not get discouraged if the routine you start with doesn’t work, this is merely a place to start!

Resistance to Developing my Morning Routine

“Whatever resistance you are feeling right now (internally or externally) about making changes in your routine, I encourage you to press on. Don‚Äôt back away. Growth happens when things are stretched, broken, and refashioned. Where there is no resistance, there is no growth.”

The course encourages you to think about what lies you may be telling yourself that are holding you back from making a positive change to your morning routine. ¬†One lie I tell myself is that my husband will think I’m weird if I get up early and meditate. To overcome this fear I plan to use headphones to start so I don’t disturb anyone in the morning. ¬†I will also talk to my husband about my goals and why I want to meditate. It’s difficult for me to get outside my comfort zone but it’s so worth it when I do!

Incorporate Diet and Exercise

“Starting your day with exercise and a healthy breakfast is one of the best ways to kick start a great day”

We are all busy and feel like we don’t have time to fit in exercise. And we may not have time to train for a marathon or spend an hour at the gym every day. ¬†Luckily that is not what Crystal had in mind when she included this section in the course!

She encourages you to start with just 10-15 min of exercise per day.  Here are a few ways to make the time for 10-15 minutes of physical activity per day:

  • Get up before your kiddos and use your treadmill
  • Put the baby in a pack n play while you do a video or machine
  • Invite your kids to join you while you do a video
  • Go for a walk with your kids in the stroller
  • Take kids to the gym daycare while you work out
  • Workout during lunch or after work before picking up your kids

I want to try to incorporate a quick yoga or HIIT routine to my morning routine. 10-15 minutes would feel amazing! ¬†And then if I can’t get in a full workout the rest of the day at least I did something!

Meal planning is crucial for me to have healthy meals during the week. I have tried different services and for right now we are keeping it very simple with lots of grilled meats, veggies and rice. Crystal links to quite a few helpful resources for meal planning in the course if you need a place to start.

My Initial Morning Routine

Thinking back to my takeaways from days 1-4 and days 5-8 and incorporating the above, this is what I came up with to start:

  • Wake up at 5:30 am
  • Drink a glass of water, make coffee ~ 5 min
  • Meditate ~ 10 min
  • Journal / gratitude ~ 5 min
  • Exercise / yoga ~ 10-15 min
  • Breakfast and read ~ 10 min
  • Shower, dressed, dry hair ~ 25 min
  • Kids up and ready for school ~ 30-60 min

Crystal talks about the importance of gratitude in the video for this lesson. ¬†I have tried implementing a gratitude routine into my days but have never been that consistent. ¬†For the past few weeks I have used the free app Grid Diary and I love it. ¬†I set it up like the 5 minute journal and one of the grids is gratitude. ¬†While I don’t always fill out all the sections, I usually do the gratitude section every day. ¬†I love starting my day on such a positive note!

One thing I eventually want to add to my routine is blogging or writing time but for now the other areas are more important to start with.

How did you do on days 9-11?

We are almost to the end of the course!  What are you including in your morning routine? Share below!

Read the Other Posts in the Series

Introduction
Days 1-4
Days 5-8
Days 9-11
Days 12-14

*some links in this post are affiliate links.


Making Over My Mornings: Days 5-8

Making over my mornings days 5-8.Today I am going to talk about my experience with days 5-8 of the Make Over Your Morning course by Crystal Paine. If you need to catch up, read this post about why I decided to complete this course and click here for my key takeaways from days 1-4.

Goal Setting is Linked to Your Morning Routine

Days 5 and 6 get into the meaty topic of goal setting!

Setting goals is not a new concept. It seems like everywhere you look there is a new article or YouTube video telling you how to set goals and why you should set goals.

develop goals to steer your mornings in the right direction

The thing I liked about the goal setting lessons of the course was that it links goals directly to a Morning Routine. We are not getting up in the morning just for the sake of getting up early. The reason we are getting up early (or at least before the rest of our family) is to make progress on our goals.

 

“Intentionally charting a course for each day will help more than just your mornings. It will impact your weeks, your months, and your years!”

Crystal has a great article that walks you through how to setup goals for yourself.  You can use her printable to track your goals if you wish.  Basically think of the 3-5 areas of your life you want to work on for the year, for example, health, marriage, motherhood, or housekeeping.  Then think of 1-2 goals for each area and break those down into specific tasks.

Interval Goal Setting

This year I did something a little bit differently.  I read an article over at Simplified Organization that talks about Interval Planning and I wanted to give it a try.

Essentially, instead of developing big goals for the whole year, look at a shorter period of time called an interval.  Then think about what you can accomplish in that 6-8 week period of time.  There is a rest week in between intervals to refresh and tweak your plans for the next interval.  The article recommends focusing on 1-3 big projects to move forward, 1-3 small tasks and 1-3 habits to work on.

Interval planning for goal setting as part of your morning routineI came up with the following list for my first interval:

  • Big Projects:
    • i Dream of Simple
    • Declutter 2 areas of my home
    • Create and print photo book for 2016
  • Habit: meditate for 10 minutes every morning

Then I came up with tasks under each main bucket on how I would actually accomplish those goals.  So for example, under the meditation goal I had things like complete a Mindfulness training, read a book on habits, and download the Headspace app. These are bite sized and actionable tasks that I can work through during the interval.

Developing Accountability is Key

develop an accountability partner to help you make over your morningsIn the course Crystal tells of her experience with texting a friend every morning to hold each other accountable with waking up early.  To be honest I have not been good about asking others to hold me accountable.  That is one of the reasons I started this blog and I do think that it helps with follow-through!

 

“An accountability partner will be incredibly helpful to keeping you on track with your goals and your routine.”

I enjoyed reading this extra article from the course.  I like how it discusses an accountability partner can help in the business setting as well as for personal goals.

To-do lists are tools to help us accomplish goals

I love to make lists and crossing things off as I complete the task.  This section of the course talks about making sure you have the right things on your list.  It also emphasizes a to-do list is meant to be a tool to help you make traction on your goals.

“Creating an actionable and accurate to-do list is essential to smoothly running a home.”

The main steps for creating a to-do list can be found on Crystal’s website at this post, summarized below:

  • Step 1 – Focus on making sure your family is taken care of – i.e they have clean clothes, food on the table, the basics.
  • Step 2 – Pick a few bite sized pieces of your goals to accomplish. Think in terms of 15-30 minute chunks of time.
  • Step 3 – Keep your to do list short and simple!

A big takeaway for me here is to time block each task on your list to be realistic on how long it will take.

“It‚Äôs better to do less if that means you feel less overwhelmed, have more breathing room, have more time to be present with those you love, and actually start and finish projects!”

My Current To-Do List Process

Reminders app for a to-do list.I have tried all kinds of task lists including pen and paper, bullet journal, workflowy, Evernote, Reminders on my phone, etc. ¬†The important thing is to find a system that works for you and then stick with it – whether it’s pen and paper or a digital app.¬† There are a ton of different options and methods out there. ¬†Try one or more and tweak the one you like best to work for you.

Right now I am using the Reminders app on my phone.  This is what my husband uses as well so we can share lists, etc.  I have the following lists: Today, This Week, Blog to Do, Meal Plan, and Someday/Maybe/Brain dump.  I also use my iCal for events that are scheduled.  And my husband and I share our calendar with each other so we know what is going on with the other person as well.

This may not work for everyone but it’s what is working for us right now!

How did you do on Days 5 – 8?

Did you set goals for yourself?  Did you incorporate those into a daily to-do list?

Read the Other Posts in the Series

Introduction
Days 1-4
Days 5-8
Days 9-11
Days 12-14

*some of the links in this post are affiliate links.


Making Over My Mornings: Days 1-4

making over my mornings day 1-4: click over to learn more!

Today I am going to talk about my experience with days 1-4 of the Make Over Your Morning course by Crystal Paine.  If you need to catch up, read this post about why I decided to complete this course and blog about it here.

If you would like to complete the course with me sign up here!

General Thoughts

  • I really like the way the course is laid out. ¬†It’s very bite sized so I can watch the video, read the short chapter and then complete the mini project all in under 15 minutes. ¬†This is perfect for someone who already has a busy schedule with a family and a job outside the home.
  • At the end of each chapter Crystal links to some additional resources if you have extra time in your day. ¬†These are links to blog posts, books on the topic or videos to help really drive home a point. ¬†I am enjoying going through some of this extra material, especially reading What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
  • The first four days were pretty straight forward and easy to complete, once I put in the time.

I am eager to continue to go through the course and see what other tips Crystal has for setting up my mornings for success.  Below are my key takeaways and favorite quotes from the course so far.

making over my mornings day 1-4: click over to learn more!

Key Takeaways from Days 1-4

Commitment is key. ¬†Simply signing up for a course is not enough to make a change in your life. It’s crucial to make the commitment and hold yourself accountable. ¬†If nobody knows we are doing something it’s so easy to just quit and keep doing the same thing day in and day out. ¬†By writing about my experience with the course on this blog I am holding myself accountable.

A successful morning starts the night before. 

“In many cases, hectic and disorganized mornings are a direct result of what is not happening the night before. So revamping the night before is the necessary first step to revamping our mornings.”

The three areas that cause the biggest stress for me in the mornings are having bags/bottles ready for school, eating a healthy breakfast, and getting my kiddos dressed and out the door.  By actually writing those stressors out I am able to think through what I can prep the night before to help ensure a smooth morning.

Crystal has a whole course on making over your evenings, which I hope to complete someday, but for now this is what a typical evening looks like around our home:

– Clean up the kitchen
– Make bottles for daycare
РPack bags for the next day
– Kiddo bed time routines: bath, teeth, story time
– Read or watch a tv show with my spouse
– Get ready for bed!

making over my mornings day 1-4: click over to learn more!

Focus on priorities and non-negotiables.  Crystal talks about the story of the Big Rocks, which you can read here if you are not familiar.  Essentially the story says that we need to put our Big Rocks in the bucket first to ensure the sand and water do not take up the space first.

My big rocks at this point are exercise, reading and spending quality time with my kiddos and spouse each day.

“In her book “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast”, Laura Vanderkam explains that highly productive people focus on the ‚Äúimportant but not urgent‚ÄĚ things early in their mornings.”

In other words, don’t get up early just to do the dishes and take out the trash. While these are tasks that need to get done, they are not tasks that fill us up personally.

You might need an incentive. Like I said before, I am not a morning person.  I like how Crystal talks about having an incentive to wake up in the morning.  My incentive is my me-time to read and drink my coffee before my kiddos wake up.

“Building in a reward mechanism is an easy yet powerful step toward establishing ‚ÄĒ and sustaining ‚ÄĒ a disciplined approach to your morning.”

making over my mornings day 1-4: click over to learn more!

How did you do on the first four days?

You can still sign up here to join me! I’d love to hear how your mornings are going in the comments below!

“The course is not about getting up early. It’s about using your mornings well.”

Read the Other Posts in the Series

Introduction
Days 1-4
Days 5-8
Days 9-11
Days 12-14

 

*some of the links in this post are affiliate links.