Need Help With Your Kid’s Summer Schedule?

by Laura Wallis | Follow Her on Twitter Here

kids summer scheduleThe countdown is on! Summer, summer, summer, summer.

While kids are eagerly awaiting those “lazy days of summer,” sometimes us moms are a little more apprehensive. Whether you work out of the home, work at home, or work IN the home, having the kiddos home is a lot of fun…till you need to get something done!

But you don’t have to fill the days with endless video games. The key to a successful – and fun – summer is structure. I know, it’s hard to think about structuring the days, when we’re trying to get AWAY from structure, but it will make your summer smoother…and happier.

Here are some tips for planning your summer from a big picture. (Next week we’ll talk about loosely planning your at-home days/weeks.)

 1. Put the “big things” on the calendar. We like this if you are a “paper person”:

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”1606779737″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61-w7v41YjL._SL160_.jpg” width=”156″]Pull up or out your calendar device and plug in all the “definites”: the week you’re going to the beach, your annual trip to grandma, any Scout, church or sports camps that are already planned.

Once you have listed down the things that are already booked, you might find you have less time to deal with then you thought.

Maybe your library has a project every Wednesday morning and tennis lessons are every Tuesday afternoon. In reality, you have two of your days booked each week, if you consider transition time, adding an errand around each, that type of thing.

 2.  Talk with your kids.

Some afternoon this week take your kids out for ice cream and talk about what they’d like to do this summer. Sometimes we just assume they are interested in the same things as before, but that’s not always the case.

Summer is a great time to try something new: maybe they want to look into an art camp, or try a musical instrument, or learn to cook.

Maybe last year, they were too young to enjoy an unscheduled afternoon at the pool, but this year it’s perfect. Maybe they always go to the same day camp and they are burned out on it.

I also have the kids put together a “wish list” of what they’d love to do. Sure, some of the ideas are outlandish, but lots of times, they are more “down to earth” like ride bikes for ice cream after dinner; camp out in the back yard; go roller skating; go to movies in the park.

If you have an idea of some of the outings that interest your kids, you can make sure you schedule them in when it’s convenient for YOU so you’re not stressed the last week of August trying to jam everything in.

kids summer schedule3.  Book summer camps.

After the first and second steps above, you have your blueprint ready. Take a look at your empty weeks and your kids’ interests and find the camps that work for your family.

And this means camps that meet their interests, but also that fit your family’s resources: both in time and money. Sometimes a camp way across town can be more trouble than it’s worth! If you are driving in morning rush hour traffic, it can eat into your productive time. See if you can find something closer to home.

Also, camps can get spendy. You might want to splurge on one or two elite camps, but check out your local Parks department and City website; the YMCA, sports organizations like Skyhawks and your local preschools if you have younger kids. All of these offer affordable, convenient camp options.

Another great idea is to coordinate with other parents in your neighborhood. Carpools are not only much easier for you, but can be more fun for your kids, too. Many times I book a half day camp with one of my daughter’s buddies, and then the moms switch off hosting the other for a playdate after. Then each mom has a full day at her disposal.

4.  Mind the gaps.

Once you have booked in the big things, figure out where the “gaps” are, as in 3 consecutive weeks in August with nothing booked. That’s a great time to book a summer camp or add in a long weekend getaway. Sometimes we book our events back to back to back and that can be exhausting for everyone. If you have two long weekends in a row, for example, that might be all the excitement you need for the week in between.

Take advantage of “downtime” to do your laundry, repack, rejuvenate, rest up. You don’t need to pack every single second. (Next week we’ll have tips on what to do during those days you ARE at home.

5.  Book in evening fun.

The best part about summer? The long evenings! No homework, no sports practices or school activities and extended daylight to boot. So, if you are a working mom who has her kids in camps all summer out of necessity, and frets that you won’t get to do all the things that your kids mentioned in Tip 2, don’t overlook these evening times!

A post-dinner bike ride, hike, swim or trip to the library, park or fountain is a great way to fit in all the summer fun that your kids are looking forward to!

Whew! Feel like you need a vacation after planning your summer? Since it’s still April, there’s still a few more weeks till you launch into “Camp Home!”

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