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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Summer: Balancing Fun and Structure

I don't know about y'all but over here the countdown to summer is ON! Pool days, travel time, church activities, camps, playdates, late nights, the fun goes on and on!

It's easy to get wrapped up in all of the fun that summer brings. Before you know it you have overcommitted to actives, have more trips than you can even pack, unpack and repack for, and end up feeling more frazzled and overwhelmed about summer than you do about school.


I have found that key to mastering summer is BALANCE. It's all about making sure not to over-commit. Making sure not to over-fill that calendar:

Bucket List

The first thing to do is something that can start now! With the school year winding down we like to start up a Summer Bucket List. What things do your kids want to do this summer? When they think of summer what are some of the memories that instantly come to mind? For us we go on a yearly fire station visit and that's always a "must do" item on the bucket list. We also take a week long trip to the beach. And like to host pool parties with friends. We write all of these things down. I try to incorporate traditions but also leave it open to new ideas we may not have ever experienced.

Calendar

As summer gets closer, pull out that calendar. Plug in events and activities that you already know are set dates. We already have our week long beach trip booked so that's on our agenda. Our church has already announced VBS dates and we know when Bible Camp is happening. We have one summer birthday in our family and know when her party will be as well. We put all those "set things" on the calendar. And then take a step back!

Plan for Structure

Where are your kids with their current schedules? Mine still very much need nap time. I'm in an easier stage where we're all just on one nap a day but if you have a baby with multiple naps you have to make sure to keep that in mind. Structure matters. Not just during school, but during summer too! Keeping a regular routine makes EVERYTHING flow easier and allows for everyday to be more enjoyable. Write out each child's schedules if you need to! It helps to see it all clearly and you are better able to make sure everyone's needs are met when you know what items are most important.

Compare

Compared the calendar to the bucket list and to the schedules. This is where the balancing act really begins. It's crucial for a "successful summer" to allow for both downtime and busy time in your schedule. You don't want to look back on summer and it be a blur of rushing from place to place. Structure is important and valuable. MOST days of the week that routine that best suits your family needs to remain in tack. But it's also summer and you want to allow for flexibility as needed.

Items on your bucket list that are NOT set schedules (like our firestation visit: I can decide what day and time we make that happen...same with hosting pool playdates at our house!) can be worked in during weeks that you have less stuff going on.

Balance

I have had many summers now as a mom and I feel like I have fine tuned the art of the summer balancing act. I've learned that it's best to only leave the house one time a day. If we do something out and about in the morning then we are home at nap time and don't go out again that evening to do something. I have also found that it's good to try to aim for 2 days of the week without any events. This allows us to be on a set schedule at home. It gives us that time for good quality naps, for a set routine. For structured playtime together, for keeping our home kept up, for chill time and relaxing time, for crafts and for quality time as a family.

I usually have one day a week where I'm very flexible. Maybe we go to Wild Adventures and get home super late for naps or skip them all together. Having a day of flexibility among several days of structure is great! It allows for freedom and fun while still keeping everyone happy because they've been on their set routine every other day of the week.

Don't Over Commit

Last summer I over-committed our family. We allowed the two big kids to each choose TWO summer camps. And it was simply too much. We were coming and going all the time to one camp or another. And I bet money if I asked my kids what their favorite memories are from last summer that neither of them would mention any of the camps they participated in. It was a lesson for ME to minimize commitments.

This summer we aren't doing any camps. Britt does gymnastics every week and loves it so we're just going to let her keep doing that. We haven't had any luck with any of the golf camps Kye has participated in but he's old enough to participate now in our local Bible Camp (which is a sleep over situation) and is just doing that as his summer camp experience this year. I think we will all benefit from having less commitments (not just physically but also financially too!).

When filling my calendar I'm mindful to leave "blank spaces." Things come up! We may get invited to do something with friends, someone may have a get together, a family member may need some help. It's good to leave plenty of room for last minute plans :)

Have a Goal

My personal summer goal is to make it FUN and memorable but also have it be structured enough where we're all able to enjoy everything we do because we're well rested and happy :)

I have found my best summer balance is 2 days where we go and do during one part of the day, 1 day where we are more flexible and maybe stay out longer or later. Then the other 2 days where we stick to a at home routine and don't leave our house at all from sun up till sun down!

This balance has really worked well for me! We have our busier weeks (vacations and camps etc) and during those weeks I am mindful not to schedule anything else. This keeps us all having FUN while Mama maintains her sanity ;)

Want an example of our typical summer schedule? Here's last years schedule!


Today is our Babywise Friendly Blog Network Pinterest Day! We are all talking about Summer so be sure to visit all of the fellow bloggers in our crew:

Mama's Organized Chaos: When Summer "Break" is hardly a Break at All: How to Get By
Twinning Babywise: My Summer Commitment to Contentment
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: How to Have a Fun Summer Even With a Routine
Team Cartwright: Turn Your Routine Inside Out: Updating for Summer



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