Everyone gets excited about the summer, but all parents also know that summer can be a stressful time. Kids are at home from school, and suddenly there are acres of time in front of you that you need to fill. Schedules change, requests for playdates pour in, and there’s a lot to get done and find time for.
Parents are very busy during the summer, and it’s not always simple to organize everything. The easiest way to make your summer the best one ever is to get organized well in advance. Here are some top tips to prepare for the summer with small children.
Create a calendar
Make a family calendar for the summer before the school vacation starts. Write down all the plans that you and your children have, including sleepovers, day trips, and playdates. Add on any dates for other summer prep you need, like cleaning the patio or getting rid of mosquitos with a business such as Mosquito Authority.
By setting up this calendar, you will know exactly what is planned and what days you still need to find entertainment for. When the school year finishes, put the calendar somewhere where the whole family can see it, so everyone knows what’s going on and when.
There are lots of ways to create a family calendar:
- Use a regular calendar and assign each family member a colored pen, so you can see what’s planned each day very quickly.
- Make your own calendar out of sticky notes and washi tape. Ask the kids to make one!
- Put up a calendar wall decal.
- Paint a wall in chalk paint and draw on a calendar.
If you have days or weekends withing nothing planned yet, use these days to spend time with friends and family. Plan days trips and other fun stuff to do together. Make plans for all those traditional summer activities like going to the pool or the beach, hosting a barbecue, or playing lawn games together.
Days without structure can sometimes be fun, but it is better to keep some kind of routine going during the summer to make things a bit smoother. Sticking to a routine will also make the transition back to school easier when the school year starts again.
Children do well with structure, so if their summer plans will vary a lot, give them some sense of structure by asking them to help fill up the family calendar so they know what’s going to happen and when.
You can also keep routine by maintaining normal bedtimes and regular morning routines.
Be prepared for ‘I’m bored’
No parent ever wants to hear the dreaded phrase, “I’m bored,” so start getting some ideas ready. With the kids, sit down and come up with lots of ideas for fun things to do. Write down all the ideas on index cards. Pin the cards to the calendar. When the kids are bored and don’t know what to do, they can go to the list of these ideas for inspiration, instead of bothering you.
You could also create a Bored Jar. Write your ideas on popsicle sticks, and put them in a jar. When your kids need something to do, they can pull an idea from the jar.
Summer can be the perfect time to combine fun with some opportunities for learning about the world. Planting up a garden together is a great thing to do together over the summer. Grow food so your child learns about different foods, nature, and where their food comes from. When the food has grown, you can use what you’ve grown to teach some basic cooking skills.
Set challenges, like asking the kids to learn the names for things around the house in a different language. Ask them to do things like taking more responsibility for caring for a family pet. Book swimming lessons or sign them up for a sport. There are lots of fun things to do together that are also educational.
Check your supplies
Summer means spending lots of time outside. Being outdoors all day means a lot of sun and bugs. Before you need supplies, make sure you have plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant. Get out your first aid kit and make sure you have plenty of things like disinfectant and plasters to handle the inevitable scrapes and grazes. If you’re short of anything, restock your supplies in advance so you’re not caught out when you need something important.
Go through your children’s summer wardrobe. Do they have shorts, sandals, bathing suits, and hats that are in good condition and still fit? Have they outgrown anything that you will need to replace? Buy new things now before the temperatures start to rise.
Whether you’re staying home or going out for the day, save yourself time by preparing snacks the night before.
Buy everyone in the family a reusable water bottle to take on day trips, and either color-code or label them so everyone knows which bottle is theirs, and save arguments.
Make sure you have plenty of reusable containers. Ask the kids to get involved with helping you to prep fruits and vegetables to pack up. You can prepare snacks for home days, and stock the fridge and the cupboard with ready-to-go healthy snacks to save time during the day.
What summer toys have been in the shed for months that you will need to get out again? Take out toys like scooters, bikes, paddling pools, and lawn toys, and make sure they’re all clean, in good repair, and are stored somewhere where the children can get them without needing your help. Find all their safety equipment like bicycle helmets or kneepads for roller skates. Are these in good repair? Do they still fit properly? If they don’t, replace them before they’ll be needed, so keep your children safe and to save you from saying no because they don’t have a safe helmet.