This article, entitled "Bring balance to summer activities," comes from MomsEveryday blogger Erin Ferris.
For years I struggled to find balance – between scheduled and unscheduled, activity and rest, work and play – during the summer months. I tried different kinds of calendars, bucket lists, and chore charts, all of which worked…about 20% of the time. Last summer, however, I changed gears. I wrote about the basics of my plan here, just as summer was getting underway. And now, a full year later, I want to share with you the details of my plan, as it allowed my kids and me to find the balance we craved and truly enjoy our summer vacation together.
First, I registered my kids (who are nine and seven years old) for a number of lessons and camps of their choosing. Swimming lessons are a must for me, but after that I let them choose how they wanted to spend their scheduled, structured time. After I added these activities to our master calendar, I designated a couple of days for family day trips, a few afternoons for spontaneous outings to the movie theater or the swimming pool with friends, and a few more afternoons – as well as one weekend evening a week – for “staying home, relaxing, and spending time together as a family”.
Second, to help my kids stay on track and prepare for the upcoming school year academically, I created individual “School Fun” guides for them to follow. In June, both kids cracked open their math, reading comprehension, writing, and spelling books every weekday and cruised through their work with smiles on their faces. In July, they kept up with reading but stepped back from the other subjects, both because I felt they needed and deserved a break and because we travel in July and I didn’t want to carry their heavy workbooks on the airplane. (Every ounce counts when you fly!) In August, they went back to their workbooks, but only every other weekday. For us, this schedule hit the sweet spot between working hard enough to stay caught up, but not so hard they dreaded going back to school.
Third, to keep us from leaning too heavily television or gaming systems, I created a “Before Screen Time” checklist. At the beginning of the summer I had to remind the kids about the checklist, but within a week or two they almost always remembered what needed to be done – tidying up their rooms, finishing their school activities, doing something physical or creative, and taking care of their cat – before they asked to watch a cartoon on the iPad or play a game on their 3DS devices.
And fourth, I offered the kids a little spending money in exchange for choosing to do extra (above and beyond those for which they are regularly responsible) chores around the house. They opted to take on the extra work when they had an item in mind to purchase, but not every day…this year I plan to make the possible earnings visible to motivate them a little more.
The plan isn’t perfect (when it comes to kids, nothing ever goes exactly how we think it will), but I can’t wait to kick off summer vacation and put it into action in just a few short days!