My dear friend, Christina, has some wonderful tips on staying sane this summer to share with you today. She’s a fantastic mom and I know you’ll love what she has to share. Welcome, Christina!
What does Summer vacation mean to you?
Does it sound like loads of fun or does it make you feel tense and overwhelmed? When I was teaching elementary school, Summer vacation meant a fabulous time to rest and rejuvenate, travel and catch up on my personal projects.
Now that I am a stay-at-home mom of two young boys, it takes on a whole new meaning! In fact, I almost started to panic when I received the information that school would be getting out about a week earlier than what was originally scheduled. Then I remembered that I have some experiences and education that can help me through this summer with a good attitude and hopefully with my sanity in tact! Maybe you’ll find something that will help make your summer better as I share how I use the simple ideas of a schedule, planning and creativity to bring some order to the potential chaos!
The first thing I did to prepare for the fast approaching summer vacation was make a schedule. I set aside short blocks of time in the day for devotions and bible time, exercise-which I call “get moving”, activity time, snacks, chores, outside, free time-together and individually in separate rooms, lunch, reading, and nap/quiet time. I made my schedule in a table, but you could also create one as simple as a list or as technical as a spreadsheet. The important thing is that you have a basic plan for your time during the day.
My days go more smoothly when my children know what to expect, so we follow the same basic schedule every day and just change certain blocks of time on days when we have swim lessons, karate, field trips, and other classes or activities that don’t happen every day.
Next, I brainstormed some ideas to plan our daily activity time. Now, before you think you can’t do this, remember all of the resources that are at our fingertips on the internet these days! Keep it simple and select topics for which you know you can find activities. I like to choose topics that I know my children find interesting and fun, and then I check out a ton of books from the library that are related to that topic. During activity time every day, I first read a book or two to my boys. Then we do a simple activity to go along with the book or our theme for the week. Sometimes it is a simple craft, a game, or a snack that we make.
I also made journals for my children, using their favorite cereal boxes for the cover, and we take time to write and draw about the things we are learning. This helps keep those reading, writing and fine motor skills going over the summer break and it helps our younger children see the value of letters, words, reading and writing.
Another important part in the planning is a discipline and incentive program. If you have super well behaved children, you might not need this. But I have two energetic and creative boys and it is definitely necessary for us! We use a simple stoplight for discipline. Green represents good choices and behavior, yellow shows to slow down and think of your choices and red means that you need to stop and have some think time to reset your behavior and attitude for the rest of the day.
For an incentive, I give my children a warm fuzzy, also known as a pom-pom, when I see good behaviors and choices all through the day. When they earn 5 warm fuzzies in their jar, they trade them in for a paper ice cream scoop that they color and tape onto their cone on the wall. For every 3 scoops of ice cream, they get to choose a treat from a special prize box. These prizes are simple and inexpensive, but are things I know my boys will work to earn.
The last thing to incorporate is your creativity. For me this means making the every day or frequent activities seem special and fun while keeping them inexpensive. We go to the park a lot, so I adapted an idea that I found in the Family Fun magazine and made a “park passport” for each of my boys. This encourages us to try out both familiar and unfamiliar parks in the area, and record what we did and liked at each park. This will be something nice that we can keep to remember the summer by as well.
If you go to the Farmer’s Market frequently, make a list of items for your children to find when you are there. Together you can select a new food to buy and try a new recipe or choose an ordinary food and prepare it in a different way. If you often take a walk together as a family, look for things that are a certain color or that start with the same letter of the alphabet. Many of the things we do each day can be made fun with a little creativity, and most of the time the expense is just a little bit of time thinking and planning.
I know that each family and situation is different and not one idea will work or be helpful to everyone. I hope that you found something that you can use or adapt to help keep you sane this summer!
About Christina: Christina is a long-time Virginia resident. She and her husband, Dennis, have two boys, ages (6) and (almost 4). Christina says she is, “so blessed to be a stay at home mom! It is by far the most difficult and rewarding job I have ever had.” In her little bit of spare time, Christina loves to bake, read, hang out with my family and friends, thrift shop, decorate, be creative, organize, and plan parties.