It seemed like a good idea at the time. Life gets super busy, and a break sounded super nice. So we did it. We started summer with no routine plan at all. Each day would be "winged." It would be so nice! We would be able to relax and just roll with life! After a very busy spring (as spring always is for us), we would live it up with little to no structure!
As you might imagine, a family who typically is very structured doesn't land well on a long-term plan of "winging" things. Winging things can be great for a time. A short time. Maybe that means a day for you you. Maybe a week. But at some point, we all need direction. We don't even "wing" vacations, why would I think the full summer would be a good idea?!? I had grumpiness and bickering among the ranks, which really isn't an everyday thing at our house. Structure sounds stuffy and like it removes all fun, but there can still be fun and even relaxation with structure!
There is a way to have flexibility built in to your schedule and still have a schedule. There is a way to relax and still have order to life. You don't have to wing every step in order to chill.
You have to know yourself and play to your strengths. I am not good at being spontaneous. It just isn't a talent of mine! People often ooh and ahh over my ability to organize, but a huge driving factor for my organizational efforts is that I am not spontaneous. Approaching summer "spontaneously" meant nothing got done because I totally blank when faced with life without a plan. My strength in life is planning ahead and I thrive with routine and structure. If I want to thrive as a mom, I need to plan ahead. Even if that planning means planning spontaneity.
1-Plan In Relaxing Time
Just because you have a routine doesn't mean you can't relax. Schedule relaxing into the plan. Make it part of the routine. Maybe that means you have every afternoon of the summer totally unplanned. Maybe that means you take the first week and totally stay in pajamas all day every day and do whatever seems fun. Maybe that means you take a day each week and make it unplanned and spontaneous. Think about it and figure out what works for you. Something we love to do in summer that is fully planned but also fully relaxing is Sustained Silent Reading. Basically, everyone reads to themselves at the same time.
2-Keep The Planned Routine Flexible
In summer planning, I like to keep things more in "routine" than in "schedule" mode when I can. I plan more of an order to the day with a general idea of when we should be starting things than planning exact times.
This has been more true as my children have aged. When I had a nursing baby, things were much more structured. I had to feed baby at certain times. But you can make the time between feedings more flexible.
So you can say, "Between breakfast and lunch each day, I want us to get chores done, get ready for the day, have outside play time, and have learning time." One day, we might spend more time outside and less time on learning time, while another day might be a lot more time on the learning time. Have anchor points in the days (meals make great anchor points), but don't worry about planning exact time slots for everything else.
3-Plan in Spontaneity
I know. It sounds like that can't work. But it can! Plan days or events that you spring on your kids for fun surprises. Those can be days you throw the normal routine out the window and go for the surprise. Maybe you will have a day at the splash pad or local pool. If you have young ones who still depend on naps, do half days or just a couple of hours instead of full days. These days or events will help break up the monotony and throw some excitement into the weeks.
4-Keep a Master List of Fun and Relaxing Activities
This could be considered a bucket list. What are the things you want to get done this summer? Where would you like to go, what would you like to do, what would you like to see? Make the list and refer to it every so often to get ideas for fun and relaxing things to do.
5-Have Some One-on-One Dates
I am big on parent/child dates. If you have a baby at home, it can be harder to get out of the house as much, which can leave summer feeling rigid and no fun. If you have one-on-one dates, one parent can take an older child out to do something fun while the other stays back with the baby to keep baby on the routine she needs.
On that note, keep in mind that children do not need as grand of activities as we think they do to enjoy something. A backyard water party can be fun and spontaneous to a child. Storytime in the shade of your tree can be a fun, relaxing mix-up to your regular old couch.
You can have the best of both worlds this summer. You can have time for relaxing, lazy days or days of major fun while still having a routine as part of your day to day living. It is simple to do, with a little planning ;) .
- When Summer "Break" Is Hardly a Break At All- How to Get By
- My Summer Commitment To Contentment
- Turn your routine inside out: Updating for summer
- Summer: Balancing Fun and Structure