Summer Survival That Sounds Fancier Than It Is {Plus a Free Printable!}

Summer survival with kids is difficult, but we’ve got a secret solution that just might make these long days a little easier {and fun!}

Don’t you hate it when you start June full of good intentions and energy, but suddenly it’s August and you are riddled with guilt for all the things you never got around to doing? Please somebody tell me I’m not the only one!

And then, without fail, somebody posts one of those memes about how they only have a dozen more summers with their 6-year-old and you just want to cry until next June? It can’t be just me, right?

Summer Survival That Sounds Fancier Than It Is {Plus a Free Printable!}

As if summers aren’t tough enough, we have to figure out how to make them memorable {in a good way}, educational, affordable, and fun, all without making plans so lofty that we abandon them before June 15.

I had all of this on my mind last year when I started a conversation with an “older friend” whose son was already grown. She had some great ideas for summer survival and she was more than happy to share them with me. And now, with retrospect, I share my favorite with you, plus something new I added this year that I will seriously do FIRST next summer. I mean, DAY ONE. Maybe even the last day of school…

Are you ready?

I’m giddy to share with you!

My friend told me to try THEMED DAYS. I was skeptical at first. That sounded like a LOT of work. I had to come up with an activity that fit a theme for every. single. day? No thanks.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it kinda worked in my favor:: like declaring that every Friday is Pizza Movie Night. Nobody ever asks me the dreaded, what’s-for-dinner question on Fridays! It’s amazing. Just to clarify, that question is the opposite of amazing, but not having to answer it on Fridays is truly glorious.

So we tried it.  I took my friend’s recommendations, then tweaked them a little to work for my family. We have five kids, currently aged 10, 10, 9, 6, and 3 {though she’d be quick to tell you she’s three-and-a-half if she heard me saying it out loud}.

Summer Survival a Year Ago

Here’s my family’s original list from last summer::

  • Make It Monday
  • Travel Tuesday
  • Wet Wednesday
  • Thinking Thursday
  • Fun Friday

Summer Survival That Sounds Fancier Than It Is {Plus a Free Printable!}

Last year I brainstormed activities I knew we’d want to do and categorized them. Splash pads? Easy–Wet Wednesdays. A trip to the Children’s Museum could either be on a Travel Tuesday or if we focused on the more educational exhibits–Thinking Thursday. A bowling trip could happen on a Fun Friday.  Our Read-a-Thon happened on a Thinking Thursday.

No longer did I have a child whining about wanting to go to the pool on Tuesday. He knew we’d go for Wet Wednesday. We got our mess-making, craftiness out of the way on Monday while I {usually} still had the energy to do so. Or I just gave them paper and crayons and encouraged their creativity {you can safely interpret this to mean I left them to their own devices so I could get something else done}. And playdates were easier to schedule because we could narrow down our days based on what we wanted to do together.

I am a nerdy teacher-type for life, so I was pretty dang proud of our Thinking Thursdays. I really wanted the kids to learn/practice typing, math, handwriting, and piano. So I created timed stations and rotated each of the kids from one station to the next {each station was in a different room} over the few hours between breakfast and lunch. Each station had specific work for each child. Maybe a worksheet, maybe an online piano lesson, maybe a typing program {Mavis Beacon is our personal favorite}. I’m not going to lie:: it wasn’t ever perfect and the first couple Thinking Thursdays exhausted me as I ran from station to station to keep each kid on track, but after a couple weeks, they got the hang of it and it became a reasonably well-oiled, summer-slump-busting machine!

2019

This year we continued the themed days, but with a few updates.

Mondays are alternating between “Make It Monday” and “Musical Monday.”  So far this hasn’t met any resistance.

We don’t hold to the themes when we are traveling to visit someone else. Last year I forgot to explain this to my kids and they were trying to tell our hosting relatives that they were doing it wrong. Oops. Not this year–at least not so far…

And here is the kicker…

You know how I told you that last year I brainstormed my own list of things I thought they wanted to do? Well, this year, I sat all of my kids down at the kitchen table each with a piece of paper and pencil. I told them to keep their eyes on their own papers and they were not allowed to look at anyone else’s answers. No dicussions were happening at this stage. I wanted their honest-to-goodness responses without any influences from anybody else.

Here is what I asked them to write::

On the first three lines I asked them to write three things they would like to do this summer. Things that were possible. Things that they thought would be fun. Things that they thought if we did these three things their summer would be complete.

1.

2.

3.

Then I asked them to put a box around at least one thing that they would like to learn this summer.

Then I asked them to think about something that we should probably do this summer whether we like it or not. You know, like cleaning out their closets and discarding clothes they’ve outgrown or reading a certain number of books, or going to the eye doctor…

And finally I asked them to draw a big circle at the bottom of the page and write inside it something “impossible” that they wished we could do. If money were no object and we could do anything and everything, what would they choose to do?

And then I collected all the papers. I cringed a little as I glimpsed at the first paper. Would this work? Would I be able to meet their ridiculous requests? Would their expectations be impossibly high?

Y’all.

This is a sampling of what I got for my first answers::

Play basketball all night,

Go to the pool,

Crumple paper and have a snowball fight,

Get a hula hoop,

Spend time with family,

Play soccer with cousins,

Play football at dad’s school,

Stay overnight at Auntie & Uncle’s house.

Seriously. Aside from the basketball all-nighter, I’m pretty sure we can handle every single one of these! And that basketball all-nighter idea just needs a little tweaking and we can make something like that happen.

And this little exercise taught me a very valuable lesson:: I was making “fun” so much more complicated than it needed to be. My kids are looking for some pretty simple fun this summer. I don’t have to stress myself out with excessive additions. It’s OK if our summer doesn’t end up picture perfect.  It’s OK if we aren’t doing what Karen’s doing {or what it looks like she’s doing on her Instagram feed}. We’re keeping it simple and focusing on what is fun for our family right now.

And I’m calling that a win.

Want to try the same exercise with your kiddos? I tried to make it easy on you! Just download and print this worksheet.

I hope these simple ideas help you if you’re in a slump this summer. Hang in their, momma. You’ve got this.


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