June 3, 2014

Preparing for Summer Break

I’m still in shock that we just finished up spring break. I mean, it seems like we just started the school year and here we are a little over a month away before school lets out for the summer! Time just seems to fly by faster with each passing year for me.

While I am very blessed to have a job that allows me to spend most of my time at home with the kids, summer breaks can get long for the kids and I both if I’m not adequately prepared for the 12-week break. For instance, last year, I wasn’t quite prepared for the break and about four days into summer break my son asked when he was going to get to go back to school.

Since I don’t want a repeat of last year, I have created this to-do list for preparing for summer break to help ensure that the kids and I both enjoy the entire summer break!

1.Shop the dollar stores. My kids are both young enough that they are still easily entertained with the cheap/silly toys found at the dollar stores. The dollar stores have lots of great toys for parents to whip out when the kids come and say, “mom, I’m bored.” Hula hoops, puzzles, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, etc. are just some of the treasures you can find here – and the best part is that they are all affordable!

2.Book summer activities. One of the best things that I managed to do last year for my school-aged son was enroll him in a couple of week-long summer (day) camps. He participated in two art camps and a science camp. One of the camps was a half-day (from 8am until 11:30am) and the other two were all day camps (8am-4:30pm). Not only did he really enjoy himself, make new friends and learn new things, but I was able to get quite a bit done around the house that I am not able to do when I’ve got the boys with me all day. While summer camps are great activities to send your kids to a couple times throughout the summer, they are not the only summer activities that are activities that require a little planning. Things like swimming lessons, t-ball, a trip to the zoo, etc. are all fun summer activities that are best planned (“booked”) in advance because they give everyone something to look forward too.

3.Make plans for play dates. Get in contact with friends who have children the around the same age as your kids and make plans to schedule play dates throughout the summer. They don’t necessarily have to be every week, but every other week is good for both the kids and you as you will get a little “adult” social time in too. You may even be able to switch off hosting play dates with a friend or two so that the kids can play while the non-hosting parent gets a few hours to run errands in solitude (aka: peace).

4.Create a chore chart. This is one that I am for sure doing this summer. My son is old enough to know that things cost money and he has no problem asking me to buy him stuff when we are at the store. Well, guess what? He’s also old enough to help out around the house and learn what it means to earn his spending money. This year, I am creating a chore chart that will be ready to go on the first day of summer break. My son will have a list of chores that he is responsible for every day. When he completes a chore, he will be able to put a sticker in the box next to the chore that he completed. At the end of the week we will count how many chores he did that week and he will get paid for those chores. Now, these chores will be the “special” chores that are not part of the routine responsibilities he has (making his bed, picking up his toys, brushing teeth, etc.). I’m thinking about chores like emptying the trashes and setting the trash by the road on trash day, unloading the dishwasher, folding a load of towels, etc. Not only do chores help teach kids about responsibility and earning money, but they also help keep them busy too.

5.Prepare “school” work. No, I’m not a drill sergeant mom, but I am one who plans on giving my son a little bit of school work to do throughout the summer. He will be going to 1st grade next year and one of the most important things I can help him work/improve on is his reading. We will continue to read one book a day Monday thru Friday, as well as, work on sight words, writing and math. You can purchase age-appropriate workbooks for math, reading and writing at most bookstores or online. One or two worksheets a day isn’t anything to extraordinary to expect from the kids throughout the summer.

Hopefully the “to-do” list above has given you some ideas for how you can prepare for the 12-week summer break that’s quickly approaching. Do you have any additional ideas to help us get ready?