All families’ schedules are different, but one thing we all have in common is a changing summer schedule for our kids. Read on to find a few tips for setting up a great summer routine for your family and five free printables to get you started!
I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to summer. The ups and downs of the school year have us all a little burned out. And I’m straight up sick of this weather.
We need some vitamin D in the worst kinda way.
Now, my son told me that he’d like to spend the summer “sun lounging.” Unfortunately (for both of us), he doesn’t have my lounging stamina.
Meanwhile, my daughter is signed up for four different camps running at intermittent times throughout the summer. Also my preschooler is in part time care, has water play on Tuesdays, and theme days on Fridays. Oh! Don’t forget therapy appointments and getting everyone in for their annual physicals and we have to find a new dentist…
WAIT! I still have to sign everyone up for swim lessons. I wonder if they have an autism-friendly class? And I promised that we’d explore the parks and get to the zoo and science museum too…
Where did all our sun lounging time go? Looks like we’re going to have a busy summer after all.
A Summer Schedule for YOUR Kids
Summer has its own kind of rhythm. The light changes, the weather changes, and you might have kids going in all different directions or a completely empty calendar.
A summer of lounging sounds great in theory. I’ve read plenty of articles that explain the importance of boredom. However, sitting in the sunshine sipping lemonade while my kids play sweetly in the yard is not reality.
As summer sunshine stretches those daylight hours longer and longer the constant refrain of “I’m bored. I’m hungry. I’m bored. I’m hungry,” can really work your nerves. Besides, no structure is a straight up nightmare for kids with differences (and their parents).
Keeping everyone busy, on the other hand, is difficult when your kids span a range of ages. One might be happily busy while the others are whining-tired. And feeling like a limo driver all week long doesn’t make for the most enjoyable summer either…
The key is striking a balance between busy and bored.
Your kids’ summer schedule will be unique to your family. Some kids thrive with a busier schedule and more structure. Some kids can enjoy a looser summer schedule with a few activities to keep them occupied throughout the week.
If you have a big family, you probably have each kind of kid plus other kids who fall somewhere in the middle.
Figure out what works for your family.
If a daily block schedule makes you feel too confined or a summer with alarms makes you twitchy – don’t do it.
And if it feels like everyone in your neighborhood is having a kick-back-and-lounge summer while you’re hustling to keep your kids busy because that’s what they need, that’s okay!
You have to do what works for your family. And what works for YOU.
Creating a Summer Schedule for your Kids
No matter where you fall on the summertime spectrum, it’s helpful to go in with a plan.
Depending on your style, this might mean a loose idea of what your summer days will be – or it might mean creating a written summer schedule for kids, appointments, camps, trips, etc.
But where do you start?
Summer Need-to & Want-to-dos
Before summer starts, make a list of all the things you need to do and all the things you and your family want to do.
Grab your big family calendar (or print one here) and write down all the things you can’t miss. Jot down the appointments you have to make, the ones you’ve made and need to keep, and any other commitments that you just can’t miss.
You’re need-to-dos are the backbone of your summer. Your anchors. Get those on your calendar, and then you can build your summer fun around that!
This will either feel like the fun part or the overwhelming part depending on how your fam operates.
Write a want-to-do list with your family. Make it clear that you might not get to every item on the list, but you are going to write it all down anyway. Your kids might come up with some good ideas!
Can’t come up with much to do?
- Free summer activities for kids
- Summer reading challenge
- 40 field trip ideas
- 15 summer STEM activities
- Fun alternatives to summer school
Post your list of ideas on the fridge for the summer. Or if you’re kids are crafty, use some magazines or print-outs to create a summer vision board! Check off your list as you go to keep track of all the fun you’ve had.
If your family needs a more structured summer schedule, you can add a few of the big want-to-dos to your calendar, too. Maybe Mondays are for museums and Fridays are for the pool. A lot of kids thrive on that kind of schedule – and parents, too.
Your Kids’ Daily Summer Schedule
After you have an idea about what the next few months will hold, you might want to narrow your focus to your daily summer schedule.
So some of you just threw your phone across the room – because yuck! Creating a daily, visual schedule for your kids is totally not your jam. Or maybe you’re kids are old enough and independent enough to keep up with daily routines without being told what to do all. the. dang. time. That’s okay. Skip down to white space.
Now, some of us need this daily schedule. My 8 year old son is amazing, but if I don’t have a solid routine in place he will become amazingly stinky in a very short time.
We need schedules and routines for everything from when to change out of your pajamas to when and how long to brush your teeth to which days are shower days to what chores need to happen to when and how long everyone gets to use the computer…
If this sounds like one (or more) of your kids, you probably want to have some kind of daily summer schedule in place.
Making a Daily Summer Schedule
Your daily schedule for summer may be a major change, especially if your school kids are coming home or your homeschooled kids are going to camp.
It’s important with any changes to 1) have clear expectations and 2) allow time to transition.
Even a relaxed summer at home can have its tense days – especially if not everyone is pitching in. And summer stress is not what we’re going for!
First, decide what you need your family to do independently. Whether it’s helping with chores, keeping up with self care, or completing a variety of things before they get to play electronics.
Some kids need a visual list for this and others will just need verbal reminders and practice. Either way, expect your kids to take some time to transition into their summer routine.
It’s always good to remain flexible – even when setting your summer expectations. Being flexible doesn’t mean being a push-over! These chores still need to get done, little ones! But it does mean taking a look at what’s not working and making adjustments.
Don’t expect to announce your summer schedule and be done with it. Like any routine it’s going to take practice, adjustments, and time to ease into it.
White Space in Your Summer Schedule
The last thing you need in your summer schedule is a little white space.
Yes, your calendar might be filled with need-to-dos and even more crammed after all the want-to-dos. And your daily schedule might be packed with park visits, swim lessons, therapy visits, and family reunions.
Make it a point to leave some white space. A little every day.
White space on your calendar is the time where there are no plans. Nothing to do. It might be a few hours or it might be a few days. But make sure to leave some time open.
Your white space can be filled with sun lounging, popsicles, impromptu campfires, a random and needed day at the beach, a nap, a trip to the library, or hey maybe even a double movie day.
5 Fabulous Free Printables for Planning your Summer Schedule
1. Monthly/Weekly Family Calendar
I love using our family calendar. It has enough space to keep everyone’s schedule on one, big spread. Check out how I use color coding and get the free printable calendar here.
2. Weekly Schedules for Each Kid
Mama Cheaps has a fantastic weekly schedule that you can print and post for your kids. They’ll know what is happening each day with less reminding. Draw pictures for little ones, too! Find the weekly schedules here.
3. Ready-to-go Daily Schedule
Chirping Moms has a very cute daily schedule – if by some stroke of luck this fits your family perfectly, you can simply print it out. Or use it as inspiration for your own daily schedule. Take a look at this family’s daily schedule here.
4. Summer Screen Time Rules
If you’re toying with the idea of a screen-free or less-screen-time summer, check out this post and free printable from Natural Beach Living. These smart ideas and simple list will give your kids something to occupy their mornings other than Netflix.
5. Fillable Summer Bucket List
Paper Trail Design has a free printable summer bucket list for you to fill plus a few great ideas to get you started. Find the printable bucket list here and fill it up with all of your want-to-dos.
I sure hope you find this helpful and that you have a fabulous summer filled with sunshine, laughter, and popsicles. I’ll just be here sun lounging. Haha I wish!