Sunshine, Swimming, and Structure: Diving into Summer Routines

As parents, most of us love the idea of summer vacation. We can sleep in. There’s no homework to supervise or nag about. We can enjoy the outdoors (barring any thunderstorms). And we can be more lenient about things like bedtime and routines.


But when reality sets in and summer finally starts, constant family togetherness can bring about sibling fights, boredom, and a tendency to spend way too much time in front of the TV and computer.


Even though summer is a time to relax and let loose, routines can help things run more smoothly.


I like to structure our days by breaking them down into morning and afternoon activities. Because it’s the summer and you can be more laid-back, it’s ok to actually schedule TV-watching and computer games into your day. I just try to make sure we don’t spend the entire day in front of a screen and that we move our bodies at some point.


You can also plan activities according to the days of the week. For example, swimming on Mondays, cooking on Tuesdays, library on Wednesdays, and so on.


Take some cues from camp and do arts and crafts, go on field trips, and institute a quiet time or reading hour.


One of your activities could be brainstorming a list of things to do. Write everything down even if it seems unrealistic. You want to get your kids’ creative juices flowing. You can always go back to it later to discuss the practicalities.


Here’s the list of activities my daughters and I came up with one year:


brainstorm list


After we made our list, we very democratically voted and narrowed it down to our top five choices for the day. We had a pajama dance party/karaoke party in the morning, followed by art and ballet lessons. After lunch, we got pedicures at a nail salon.


summer structure


That day ended up being very busy and hands-on for me. But of course, you don’t need to entertain your kids every second of the day. Boredom often inspires creativity. When your kids complain that they’re bored, resist the urge to react or offer a million suggestions. Simply say something like, “Hmm, that stinks. I can’t stand it when I’m bored. What are you going to do?” Let them use their imaginations and solve their own dilemma.


Now, I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell me how you’re going to add structure to your summer this year.


Summer’s also a great time to schedule a FREE mini-session with me to see how I may be able to support you with your family or individual goals. Click here to get a spot on my calendar.

Showing 4 comments
  • jojoebi

    Totally get this! I love to kick back over the summer but everything goes so much better with a bit of planning 🙂

  • Kelly - Project Me

    I’m a huge fan of laid back summers, but 100% agree that a small bit of planning ahead really helps!

    My kids create a similar kind of list called their Not Bored Board. You and your girls have a super fun list there. ENJOY!! 🙂

    • Pam Howard

      Thanks, Kelly! I love the Not Bored Board. So clever.

  • Kristy Goodwin

    Pam, I love the idea of your 3 s’s for summer. Sounds like fun! Totally agree that kids thrive off structure but also benefit equally from boredom.

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