Avoid Whining with a Summer Schedule August 03 2010

As the summer wears on, kids like to whine I’m bored, but a summer schedule can help you avoid hearing that annoying phrase.

Kids need a routine with at least some structure in order to feel secure. They know what’s expected of them and what’s going to happen each day, which is also what they’re used to in school.

Personally, I like a more relaxed schedule, and I’ve learned the hard way that it just doesn’t work well with my husband and kids. I’m not suggesting scheduling every single minute of each day, but there are a few guidelines that will help keep everyone busy and happy during the summer.

Divide the Labor

The first few days after school gets out, we don’t have much structure, choosing to sleep in and “go with the flow.” The week after, however, my husband and I decide that we need to reevaluate this strategy. One of the first things we do is decide how to divide up the chores that need to be done each day.

As kids grow older, they can and need to take on more responsibilities around the house. Consider adjusting your expectations, requiring your children to participate more in the day-to-day obligations of running a household. Some of these tasks – even for younger children – can include:

  • Sorting dirty clothes into piles of colors and whites
  • Putting clean clothes away (you may have to assist with hanging clothes in the closet)
  • Cleaning out the dishwasher – silverware and unbreakables to begin with
  • Vacuuming bedroom floors
  • Taking the garbage out

Once it’s clear what kinds of chores your children can take on, they can be scheduled into a regular routine.

Decide On Guidelines

First, it’s important to decide what you want to include in your schedule. Options include sections of time for:

  • Meals
  • Family Activities – going to parks, on hikes, out for picnics, swimming
  • Chores
  • Reading
  • Playing Outside
  • Activity or Practice Books
  • Rest/Down Time
  • Cartoons
  • Video Games
  • Talking on the Phone

How much time do you want your family to devote to each of these activities? When should each activity happen? Would you rather have chores done in the morning or right after dinner? When will the kids be allowed to watch TV or play video games, and for how long? What about time without distractions? I like to have an hour scheduled in the afternoon for down time; it gives my kids a much-needed break from morning summer camps or play time, and it gives me a break, too!

Making the Schedule

There are two ways I've found helpful to construct a schedule. If every day of the week is pretty much the same, you can make one breakdown of what happens during the day; for example, 8:00-8:30 is breakfast, 8:30-9 is chore time, etc. and post that for everyone to see.

For us, however, each day is a little different, so we have a week-long chart with the general schedule written out for the days of the week. Categories that we’ve chosen to include are:

  • Meals
  • Chores
  • TV Time (VERY SPECIFIC times/shows)
  • Computer Time (on a timer)
  • Snack Time
  • Activity or Practice Books
  • Time to Play Outside
  • Reading/Story Time
  • Downtime (yes, even downtime is scheduled...)
  • Family Time

Our schedule is posted on the pantry door because we know that’s where our kids will see it, because that’s where the food is stored.

While I can’t guarantee that you’ll never hear the words I’m bored again, I can reassure you that a schedule will help avoid unnecessary whining during summer break!