Ah summer. Swimming pools, ice cream, and hours free to get bored do what you want. I loved summer because our days are more relaxed. I love a break from the structured school time and the feeling of needing to get a litany of school work accomplished each day.

But if I am not careful our summers turn into a marathon of cartoons, video games, and YouTube (Does anyone else’s kids like to look up their current passion on YouTube and watch all the videos?)

Get Organized for Summer with Kids

This summer I have decided to try and stop those activities before they even begin. We are taking about eight weeks off our homeschool for summer and for three of those weeks the kids will be involved in programs that take up at least half of their days. The other weeks I am on my own. So here are my five simple steps for a fabulous summer.

1. Make the Plan

Nothing fabulous happens without a plan. I simply sat down one Sunday morning with my coffee and pen and let the thoughts flow onto a note pad. I snapped a photo and put it on social media, and within a few hours I had multiple requests for my lists.

I am sharing my specific lists on this post, but I am also giving you blank printables so you can write your own as well. I don’t know about you, but I can never use anyone else’s lists! And thank you for asking for the post — I never would have made them nearly as cute if you had not.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Lists

Below is a slide show of my list scans so you can see them up close. They are:

    • Summer Rules – A list of family rules for summer days.
    • Daily Schedule – This has times on it, but is pretty flexible.  The biggest hard stop is no screens until 3:15 and all chores and the “3:00 Tidy” (and afternoon straighten session) must be done before screens start.
    • I’m Bored List – What to do if you are bored each day.
    • Daily Chores – The things that must be done before morning snack. My kids have to clean rooms and brush teeth as well as choose two other chores from the list. First up gets first choice.
    • Weekly Chores – The things that are done each day one time a week. These are assigned to particular kids and do not have to be done first thing in the morning but must be completed before screen time each day.
    • Daily To-Do – We are continuing our math curriculum until it is finished. They each have just a few more lessons. Math fact practice, piano practice, and some review games will continue in the summer. All of this must be done before screen time.

2. Put Everything In Its Place

A good summer plan needs a place to live. Now my lists are going on the side of the fridge so everyone can see them, but for all of the schedules, brochures, and event registrations I give you the Summer Fun Binder. This is also a great place to store packing lists for camp, movie and event schedules, summer reading program materials — everything you will need for a great time this summer.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Binder

See the original Summer Fun Binder Post from last year here for more details. When I was putting in the new printables for this summer it was fun to pull out all of the old memories from last summer and remember all the fun we had.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Calendar

Get Your Plan Your Summer Planning Kit

Here’s your chance to get your very own planning download for summer. You will get all the blank lists and the Summer Fun Binder printables with cute art by My Clipart Store. The pack includes calendars for June, July and August, two binder covers, chore lists, rules list, schedule list, I’m Bored list, and a blank list for whatever you need!

3. Hold a Family Meeting

Get everyone involved by calling a family meeting to explain all the new expectations. Lay everything out for the kids so they know exactly what to expect and be sure to  answer any questions that they have about the process. Let me warn you they will ask every question they can think of to already start trying to weasel around the rules. Just answer them all with a patient smile.

This is especially helpful for the non-readers of the family who can’t read all your beautiful refrigerator lists. Summer is a great time to work on habit training and extra chores.

4. Make a Summer “I’m Bored” Box

Help set the kids up for success by going out of your way to help them find things to do. After our big family meeting we all got dressed and headed to the craft and dollar stores. There we stocked up on some new coloring books, small games, and craft kits to help keep everyone busy this summer.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Busy Box

I came home, emptied out a big basket, and filled it with the new items and some old ones that they haven’t played with in a while. I plan on refreshing the “I’m Bored Box” every weekend this summer by straightening and replacing some items with new ones. There is also a similar list on the fridge that has more ideas. Here are some fun things for your box:

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Busy Box Close

5. Train the Plan

Day one was pretty ugly in the morning. The five-year-old lost his tablet privileges before 7:00 AM. Math was so much harder because it was the only academic subject we were doing. Everyone was grumpy and fought and complained about chores. Ugh. But I stuck to my plan and made it through day one. I tried to keep in mind that the first week will be the hardest.

Day two was a bit easier. Both boys stayed in their room quietly until 7 without being told and math went much faster. I expect things to improve as the week goes on.

They have to know that you mean business. They will be bored and listless the first week — wandering and fussing instead of finding something to do. Eventually, with a bit of leaving them to their own devices, they will get the idea that in order to have any fun they need to make fun. It always gets easier after the first week.

Chore and habit training also takes time and effort on Mom’s part. If I don’t go and check up on chores, then nothing will get done right. I take the time in summer, while I feel like I have more time, to work extra hard in training things to be done right. Yes, it is a pain, but it does pay off.

More Resources

For even more great posts about summer plans:

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Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
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