Summertime is one of the most exciting and anticipated times of the year. Kids look forward to it from their first day back to school in the fall. I understand and remember this. Now, however, I find myself looking forward to school starting again for the simple fact that I want to get back into to a solid routine.
Don’t get me wrong; I love summer and all our vacations (if I weren’t such an avid snowboarder I would wish for summer all year long just like my kids do). What throws me during the summer is how out of balance life can get. Each year Kerry and I try to create and maintain a consistent routine for our family. The key word is consistent. What we do—well, what Kerry does since she’s the planner—is create a separate calendar for summer that we start to map out in April. Our goal is to have a rough schedule planned out by the end of April (which is still cutting it pretty close). We have learned from experience that it is important to start early; otherwise, there are fewer options available for camps, day care, and other activities.
The overall goal is to create a fun-filled summer that has structure and balance. Two new activities we added this year are summer journals and workbooks. I know, lame, right? Wrong! Do you remember the first thing teachers have kids do when they return to school? That’s right, it’s the “what I did over the summer break” assignment. When my kids get back to school, they’ll be ready to complete that assignment. “Why the workbook?” you ask. It’s because it keeps the mind active and connected to the academic routine. I know the idea of a workbook may sound horrible, but we have found that it helps make the transition back to school less difficult for our kids. Any sort of structure and routine helps ease this transition.
As I mentioned before, the key is consistency—not just consistency in the routine, but also in how Kerry and I enforce and maintain it. The first couple weeks of summer are easy because the kids are just coming out of a very structured day-to-day routine with school, homework, bed time, wake-up time and so on. The difficulty starts when they realize that they don’t have to be up at a certain time for school. Then they start asking to stay up later, and whining about their workbook and journal. This is when Kerry and I have to be consistent and stick to the routine. It isn’t always easy and we’re not perfect at it, but this year, even with vacations and other activities that have thrown us off the routine, we’ve managed to survive as well as keep some balance. There have definitely been bumps in the road, and we’ve certainly faced struggles and challenges, but I have seen a significant improvement from last year. The great thing about the struggles and challenges is that they help us assess what is working and what isn’t so we can keep improving things.
So, how is your summer going? What do you do to maintain some sort of structure and consistency with your kids? I would love to hear them so I can start planning for next summer
– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad