One of the best things about summer vacation for children who attend traditional school is that there is no fixed schedule.
Kids don't have to get up early to be at school on time. There is no homework that has to be handed in before a deadline. There are no school bells that compel children to change activity or location each hour. Summer vacation is a chance to breathe and enjoy the freedom from being forced to conform to someone else's schedule and demands.
If they could have their way, children might spend summer vacation waking up at 11 a.m., staying in their pajamas until well past noon, eating breakfast cereal out of the box followed by a popsicle, sitting in front of an iPad or phone or TV for hours on end, and staying awake past midnight.
The more mature a child is, the more he or she can participate in the conversation about the value of keeping a sense of order and routine to his life. The more he can develop balance and the ability to overcome his feelings of "I don't feel like it" with the tempering feeling of "I want to do what's good for me and others," the more a child can take control of his life and create healthy habits.
It's up to me to create order for them, help them keep healthy daily habits, and give them a sense of routine, even during summer vacation.
While a summer schedule does not have to be as intense as during the school year, we still want to take care of them in a way that's in their best interest and give them the security of knowing that their parents are in charge and taking care of their needs.
One thing that seems to help me most is to make time well in advance of the summer to begin planning for the summer. How can our summer schedule strengthen our family relationships?
This begins the creative process of thinking about and planning an enjoyable summer for our family. My husband and I consider ideas from our children, but what activities actually make it solidly into our summer plans have to work well for our family’s balance of time, money, and other resources.
Otherwise, I find that the potential of disorder and chaos of a schedule-less summer vacation can turn it into a stressful and unpleasant season for both myself and my children. Planning ahead allows us to build in more time for rest, creativity, and family time.
What routines did you use last summer that you want to do again? Which routines did you do last summer that you may change because your child is a year older?