Summer is coming, and I am so excited because that means ten solid weeks with all three of my precious little ones around! It’s wonderful! Exciting! …And maybe a bit daunting? The infamous “what are we going to do today?” question or the “I’m bored” complaint can grate on even the most intrepid stay-at-home mom’s nerves after about week three.
So here are a few questions to help guide a summer planning family huddle:
1. “What is one fun activity (or place) you want to make sure we do (or go) this summer?” [Hopefully] your kids understand that you can’t do everything, so while a two-week vacation to Disney might not be in your family budget, you can still give your kids major buy-in and ownership when you ask this question. When we asked this at spring break, our eight-year-old wanted to go to an indoor amusement park (kids’ shooting gallery, climbing wall, hover bumper cars, etc.), and Li’l Bro wanted to play Putt-Putt. Easy and done! The boys will “help” Sissy with her big thing by suggesting options that she might like. I think [read: hope?] this could prove to be another great move, because when it comes time to do a toddler-geared activity, the boys will not be groaning about how boring it is because THEY chose it, so they feel ownership of it!
2. “Which of these do you want to check out this summer?” It’s great to have a list of suggestions–this can both foster excitement for new, unexplored activities, as well as hem in unrealistic expectations. Some possibilities from our list are tour a fire station, go climb a Mountain, go camping, go to the local or neighboring city’s children’s museum, have a taste-test-a-thon at a farmer’s market, go to the local nature center or zoo, go to the pool/swim/sprinkler/water slide, go to the beach, visit family, sign up for local library’s summer reading program, have a popsicle or lemonade stand, have a picnic… The possibilities are almost endless! Some of these are simple at-home ideas and some more elaborate trips, so make your list according to what you can afford and are willing to do.
3. “How do you want to go about achieving some goals?” Is it sneaky to give them buy-in to something I want for them by letting them own when in the course of a day and how we tackle it? Maybe… but it’s worth it! Our eldest is moving up into third grade next year, a year of transition, and I’ve heard from several sources that it is invaluable to have multiplication down going in. So as well as incorporating that concept when we are out-and-about, I plan to go over math flash cards together for just a few minutes each day. I also want us to memorize some scripture as a family, so the boys will choose which verses they would like to commit to heart (more for the elder, fewer for Li’l Bro). We will also set specific goals and rewards and track them on sticker charts (BIG rewards for meeting overall goals, little rewards for mile-marker goals along the way).
4. When should we do these things? Now grab a calendar and plan it out. Of course, you want to block off out-of-town dates, etc., but then let the kids help plan out when you do your big things and little things, maybe tackling one of the big things (from #1) each month, then sprinkling through a little thing (from #2) each week. It can help them to see the time span and know that–right there in ink–are so many wonderful things to look forward to! Of course, you don’t want the calendar all booked up, yuck! Too much of crammed calendars during the school year! And you definitely want some white space for margin, rest, and spontaneity. But a general calendar of plans can also help keep you sane and on track!
So, I’m curious, do you have a family pow-wow to prepare for summer? Do tell!