They don’t call them the lazy days of summer for nothing.
The sunshine might inspire smiles and make pretty flowers grow, but its rays can also be downright draining. It’s so tempting to veg out on the couch, phone in hand. And it’s even easier to get stuck there.
You know you don’t want your kids zoned out on their tablets or in front of the TV all summer long, but school is out! It’s easy to say “cut down on screen time,” but what are you supposed to fill all that time with instead?
Deep breath: It might seem daunting at first — they were in school 35 hours a week! — but it only takes a little planning to help your whole family have an amazing summer, with plenty of fun and lots of good-for-them stuff, too.
Make memories together
Spontaneous fun might be the best kind, but you can’t always count on it! There’s a reason why we say memories are made — most require action and some planning. Create a summer bucket list to make sure everyone in the family gets a chance to try something new. Include simple pleasures, like chasing fireflies or going on a picnic, but add a few big things for everyone to get excited about, too.
Make a chore chart
School might be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach your kids a thing or two. Even little ones can start learning what it takes to keep a house running smoothly — and help out! Encourage everyone to pitch in with a family chore chart. Here are a few tips:
- Hang it up where everyone can see.
- Consider each child’s age and ability to assign the right chores.
- Give each family member a different color to keep the chores straight.
- If you want to offer an allowance, include an amount next to each chore. (Maybe loading the dishwasher is only worth a quarter, but you offer 50 cents for vacuuming.)
- Include small bonuses — extra money, candy or another small treat — when kids get their chores done early or take something extra from the list.
- Consider trading chores for screen time. It’s a great opportunity to limit how often your kids are plugged in, plus it reinforces that “it’s a privilege, not a right” argument you use every time you ask them to put down their phones.
- Choose one chore-free day per week and focus on family time instead!
Make an activity chart
Want to help make sure your kids are breaking a sweat — and not just because it’s so hot out? Your activity chart can look a lot like your chore chart, but replace the chores with exercise! Include fun workouts you can do as a family, like riding bikes, going swimming or playing basketball. Need some ideas to keep the activities fresh? Consider signing up for sporting events and leagues through your church or city athletic leagues.
Get out and about
You’ve got their bodies up and going, so now engage their brains. Head to your local library and load up on books to keep their reading skills sharp. Make sure to check out the list of fun (and typically free) activities, including a summer reading program.
Make time for downtime
It’s important to stay active, but be sure to keep it all in perspective. It’s not a crime to be lazy now and then, and your kids need time to relax and reboot before the first day back to school — you do, too! If your family can’t seem to slow down, or if every day feels over-scheduled, add a few blocks of downtime to your calendar each week and invite your kids to read, take a stroll outside, nap, cook or just chill out at home.
How will you keep your kids engaged this summer? Share your ideas in the comments!