Surviving–and Thriving–this Summer

Don’t just survive the summer, thrive! Follow these steps and get ready for a summer full of memories, laughter, relaxing and a happier family.

Are you ready for Summer?

I’m ready for summer. I’m ready for hot days, sprinkler fun, lazy mornings, and no schedule. But after what we’ve all gone through this past year, I find we all get a little antsy and tired of trying to come up with something great to do with our time. Then comes the dreaded summertime phrase: “Mom, I’m bored.” And just like that it seems like we’re all going a bit nuts.

So what’s the secret to thriving instead of merely surviving?

The way to get the most out of our summer days is to keep a routine…yes, a routine. But, isn’t summer supposed to be a break from the schedule? Yes it is, but I would argue that we are designed for routine. Look around. There is a routine to everything. The sun rises; the sun sets. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. I need my coffee to feel like my day has started.

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Even the kids need it. We all need it. No, no, not coffee…routine. It’s still good and I think we crave it, though our routine during the summer looks entirely different from the rest of the year. You see, instead of a daily routine, we tend to keep a weekly routine and I encourage you to do the same and here’s why—you’ll get the best of both worlds. It will feel like you’re all relaxed and taking life as it comes, but you’ll still have some predictability that allows you to keep your sanity.

With a little (and I mean little) planning, you’ll be able to enjoy the summer with these four steps:

STEP 1. Take a few minutes to figure out what your goals are for summer. Do you want to explore new places in your area? Read those books that are piling up? Paint the bedroom? Teach your child to ride a bike? Go to the lake?

Make a list and talk with your kids too, they often will have expectations of their own and you may be surprised to hear some of their ideas.

STEP 2. Choose one or two special things to do each week and balance it out with the things you need to accomplish. Take that bike path. Go to the beach you’ve heard is fantastic. Take a picnic to the kids’ favourite park. But don’t try to tackle the whole list in the first two weeks. You’ll be exhausted!  Space it out so you’ll continually have things to look forward to.

STEP 3. Create a schedule that includes your goals and special things along with planned down time and jobs. Don’t forget the down time. Whether your kids take naps or you all need to sit down and read a good book in the afternoon, everyone needs a little peace and quiet. Make a weekly schedule and put it up on the wall so everyone can read it and know what to look forward to as well as see the work that needs to be done too.

STEP 4. I may step on a few toes here, but I’m just going to say it. Turn off the TV. And the computer. And your phones. Spend time building memories together. Summer is for getting outside. It’s for playing in the sprinklers and climbing trees. It’s for exploring and adventuring.

A few years ago we implemented what we call “screen time boxes.” Each kid gets six boxes for the week and each box is good for 20 minutes of screen time.

They get to use them when they want (as long as it fits with the family schedule and they have their jobs done for the day), but when the boxes are used up, they don’t get more until the next week. It helps the kids have ownership over their time and helps us feel like they don’t become zombies who have vegged out on too much media entertainment. Our kids used all their “screen time boxes” on the first day in a matter of hours. So be prepared for a learning curve. It will all be worth it.

During the summer, the kids rarely use their boxes. Why? We are doing all the things we wanted to do and planned on doing as a family. We’re out making memories. Together.

So with this little bit of planning, we keep to a schedule for the summer. And no, I’m not militant about it.

We still go on vacation and deviate from the routine.

I mean, after all this is SUMMER. Often we will switch our days around or change the week completely, but the point is, we have a rhythm to our days and weeks. It keeps us from getting bored or from getting to the end of the summer feeling like we didn’t do the things we really wanted to. We keep our sanity. But more than that…we THRIVE.

You’ll find that with a little preparation, you can thrive this summer too and create life-long memories with your family.

Vancouver Island's Parenting Resource