Hello Summer! Well, almost anyway. Since we’ve passed Memorial Day, I’m going to call it. Now, there’s no one to whom summer is more meaningful than school-aged children, so today I’m talking to families with those youngsters. Whether you’re doing the work & camp dance or spending long days at home together, if you have school-aged kiddos in the house, summer surely means a change of routine. So let’s talk about some simple things you can set up around your real home to help the summer days go a little smoother.
#1) Pack a “To-Go” Basket or Tote
Most families pack a little more adventure into the summer months. Longer daylight hours and no homework or school activities, means a lot of fun can be had – even if you don’t get home until dinner. Of course those of you at home with young ones may be coming and going all day long. Either way, make it easy to go out and have a good time. If you like to head to the community pool after dinner, then keep your beach tote packed and hanging by the door. If the park is more your speed, a picnic blanket and frisby should be easy to grab. And this time of year, every home needs a basket of sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and bug spray by the door. Sometimes, getting out of the house is really the best way to stay happy at home, so make it easy to get out and get going!
Of course we think real homes can be functional AND lovely, so stash your gear in a pretty basket or patterned tote and be ready to go in style.
#2) Create a “Command” Center
At my real home, summer time means chore time! Unfortunately, school nights are often overfilled with homework and ball games, but long summer days mean there is plenty of time for the kids to pull their weight around the house! Whether you’ve got young kids that need lots of help with their helping, or teenagers who are hanging at home while you work, a healthy dose of responsibility is a good way to fill their summer days. Of course manual labor / house work is always great, but it’s not the only thing that can fill their “to do” list. How about reading? Practicing music? Playing outside? If you have a “carrot” like screen time or friends to offer, a checklist of activities to finish before hand can help kids organize their day in a productive way.
And yes, find a cute way to display it. Really, younger kids are motivated by moving a clothespin along an illustrated poster board (or whatever Pinterest display you use!) And teenagers, well they just need it in their face as a reminder. Personally, I like clipboards to keep my older kids on track. I can personalize them to the child and adjust lists or schedules as needed. You can hang them, stand them up, or carry them around. Plus, if company is coming they are easy to stash … ours go in the secretary they are perched on.
#3) Give The Kids Some Space
This tip is particularly for those whose kids are at home during the day, and it is particularly important!
If the 7+ hours your children were spending at school are now spent in and around your house, expect some changes. Consider what your kids are going to do all day. Sure, watching TV keeps a neat house, but that’s about the only advantage. What do you want them doing instead? Think about it, and then make space for it!
Reading? Make a cozy reading nook with bean bags and throws in corner of the living room. (Even if they already have a reading spot in their bedroom, the novelty of a new space set up just for them will add intrigue to the activity.) Art? Cover your pretty dining table with an oil cloth and pull in a cart with some art supplies — call it the “summer studio”. Cooking? Encourage them to plan some weekly recipes, then clear a shelf in the pantry for their own cookbooks and ingredients. Gardening? Help them turn a corner of your back yard into their own plot of land and see what they produce.
I think this step is so important, that it truly is worth giving up some pretty! At Kate’s real home, the otherwise cozy family room is stripped to its bare bones during the summer to make room for lots of bouncing, cartwheeling, and fort building. At my real home, I’m looking to add a large folding table to our already crowded family room for the summer in the desperate hope that it will help contain my son’s Lego addiction.
Ahh, summer. Try to embrace the chaos that is coming your way! Share your space. Implement a chore chart to take the edge off the mess, make getting out of the house easy as can be with your “to go” bag, and relax. Remember, you’ll be packing school lunches and supervising homework again before you know it!