I know, I know, you’re thinking survive summer, I’m gagging for it, bring it on! Just hear me out mama; a few years ago, about 2 days into the summer break I overheard the desperate cry of a mother of 4 school aged children say “they’re driving me crazy already, I can’t believe I have 6 weeks of this”. I’m sure you’ve never felt exasperated 2 days into the summer break (ahem) but this romantically desired long break from ‘business as usual’, whether it’s the school run, homework and parent’s evenings or homeschool planning, curriculum choices and homeschool co-op taxiing around it can be tough on Mum when the honeymoon period (2
weeks days in…smile) is over.
Here in the UK we’re just winding down for our 6 week break; I know you US mama’s are well into your summer break, but here’s how this schedule loving homeschool Mum keeps sane.
1. Make a wish list
I’m pretty opposed to using the term ‘bucket’ list as I don’t intend to ‘kick it’ before the end of the summer but I get why people use it! We always make a summer wish list, it often has similar things on it year after year:
1. Go fruit picking
2. Visit Bourton-on-the-Water
3. Sit around the fire pit and roast marshmallows
4. Go visit the ________ family
You get the idea; we make the list and we slot them on the schedule (see no.2) to make sure we do them!
2. Make a plan – print it out for all to see
Yep, I’m that Mum, but it works! I make a table on Word covering the 6 (or 7) weeks we’re taking off and fill in every day as much as I can. I then print it out and stick it in various places around the house. So next time they ask ‘are we going out today’ you can just point them to the summer schedule – simple (unless they can’t read of course…wink)
3. Talk about expectations
I’m all about the family meetings and ‘briefings’ – we can’t expect our children to behave a certain way or respond in a particular way if we haven’t first laid out our expectations right? So this is where you show them the schedule, talk them through it, explain that they’ll still be doing chores (see below), remind them that the word ‘bored’ is banned in the house (highly recommend that one!) and definitely have some clear boundaries around technology, but most of all lay down an expectation of fun. Summer needs to be memory making and journal worthy, for all of you!
4. Keep to some routine/rhythm
The first few summers after we started homeschooling I didn’t really do this and I found myself working harder than ever! Because our chores and household responsibilities are so much a part of our homeschool day I totally let them slip but of course who picks up the slack? Mama here! If nothing else I make sure we still ‘gather’ at some point in the morning to talk about the day, pray/read etc. and then we do our regular chores. We all need some kind of rhythm remaining in our summer, a familiar beat that helps us stay centred.
5. Plan a day in/day out routine or two days in one day out
When I’m scheduling our activities I try to make sure we’re not in the house for more than two days in a row. I have a lot of projects and personal work that I like to achieve over the summer and I love being at home, but half of my children are pretty extreme extroverts and have a need to be all go go go, so I try to keep a balance for all of us. Being out of the house doesn’t have to have a cost involved – it could be as simple as visiting a friend or taking lunch to the park; be creative!
6. Make a list of household projects all the family can get involved with
Summer is a great time to sort out the school room, the plastics cupboard or even paint that old chair you’ve been desperate to up-cycle. Make a list, make it realistic (says she, the absolute overachiever) and slot them into the schedule. Get the whole family involved and make it fun – it feels great ticking off that list!
7. Do your ‘back to school’ prep earlier rather than later
As a child I used to hate seeing the ‘back to school’ supplies in the supermarkets just as classes were finishing for the summer, but now it makes sense to me. Give yourself a break mama, lose the stress and prep early. Instead of running around Asda the night before the first day back, grabbing at the pencils and uniform, do it now! Do any shopping, planning, book buying, bag packing, organising of the school room etc as early in the summer as possible, pop it on the schedule and don’t procrastinate!
Believe me, you’ll relax so much more knowing it’s done.
So what do you do to make sure your summer break is memory making and stress free?