When my oldest son started school, I quickly realized that with the busyness of the school year, there wasn’t a lot of time to make magical memories and I became a little bit obsessed with squeezing all of the special activities I could think of into our ten weeks of summer vacation.
Cue the exhausted and overstimulated kids and the mom who has had a little too much togetherness.
I am coming up on my fourth summer as a mom of school-aged kids and I feel like we have perfected our combination of staying busy and making memories with a nice dash of downtime and a heap of educational activities so I don’t have the kids who didn’t touch a pencil to paper all summer when they go back to school.
1. Make a schedule.
We figured out that we need a set time every day for chores and some type of writing activity. I stocked up on math workbooks, bought each kid a summer journal to draw and illustrate our various activities, and grabbed some flash cards from the Target Dollar Spot for days when we’re on the go.
We also found out that our default setting if we didn’t have plans was to stay at home all day and fight and destroy the house, and as much as I love to hear all the different ways they can beg for another episode of Curious George while stepping on a waffle the baby threw down, sometimes I wanted another plan. It helped to have a day each week set aside for relaxing, and then have a loose idea of activities for the other days.
2. Plan weekly repeated activities.
We joined our local library’s summer reading program, and every Tuesday we go check out books and turn in their reading hours for the week. We also had a pool day for visiting our neighborhood pool and a movie afternoon where we all snuggled up and watched a movie together.
3. Make a list of all of the local activities your kids might like.
Having a list in the notes section of my phone saved the day several times when we didn’t have plans but needed to get out of the house. Some of our favorites are the splash pad, the Science Museum, Myriad Botanical Gardens, the Edmond Historical Museum, and Unpluggits. Having a long list also kept us from repeating activities unless the kids really wanted to.
4. Plan some day trips!
Last year, my kids rated our trip to Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum as their favorite thing we did all summer. We also love Leonardo’s in Enid. Peach-picking at Wind Drift Orchard made my kids appreciate the work that goes into growing fruits and vegetables and we came home with several bags of the juiciest peaches I had ever eaten. Packing lunches and travelling somewhere outside of the metro area made the days feel like mini-vacations, and while it took a little more planning than staying home, it was worth it!
5. Make any day feel special with some pre-purchased supplies.
I keep a stash of all kinds of popsicles in the freezer at all times. Turning on our summer playlist, the sprinkler and the bubble machine and then ending the fun with a popsicle is always an easy way to make a boring day feel magical, or just to beat the last hour before Daddy comes home.
I know these summer days are the days that I will miss the most when these boys are grown: the ease of slipping into flip flops, their sweaty hair and pink cheeks, the way they delight in anything I call an adventure and the fact that nobody cares if we all stay in pajamas all day or stay up until 10:00 playing in the backyard. Finding our balance is the key!