How to Maintain Your Zen During Summer Chaos

School's out for summer (hopefully you sang that)! Okay, maybe not quite yet, but soon. The kids are home. What do we do now?! When I had a more traditional nine to five job, the summer schedule was pretty much the same as the rest of the year, just with extra childcare. Now that I work from home and have a less traditional schedule, it calls for a little more creativity. We have things planned. This summer will end with a road trip to drop the oldest “kiddo” at the University of Nebraska. Before then, we will take our traditional summer road trip, and the youngest two will do a couple weeks of camp. There will also be swimming lessons, continued tutoring, family in town, but to fill the gaps, it's "Camp Mom."

I always find myself both dreading and excited for summer break. Since my kids are older, they are fairly independent, so I'm able to take them to the park without hovering and enjoy sitting on the beach without worrying about how much sand they are eating. The dread comes from knowing I have to plan activities, and revise our usual schedule for the short amount of time everyone is home for the summer, all while balancing my work schedule and making sure I am able to get everything done and fulfill my commitments. The excitement comes from knowing I get to plan activities and we get to have a more flexible schedule for the summer. I decided I needed to make a plan to keep us on track and trick the kids into thinking having a schedule is a fun summer activity! 

Here's what I came up with:

Make a summer "bucket list." I have been adding things to a list in my phone whenever I hear/read about something that sounds like it would be fun for the summer. (Thanks to Queen of the Land of Twigs and Berries for this brilliant idea!) I'm going to have the kids each pick a couple things they want to do and we'll create a list we can check off over the summer.

Responsibility charts. The kids all have jobs they do around the house during the school year, but during the summer, when they are home more, we add to them.

Daily schedules. Each night, before bed, we're going to sit down and plan out the next day. My youngest is currently working on elapsed time and paying attention to the clock, so this exercise will also help him master that skill. All of the kids like to know what "the plan" is, so this way they can help map out the day, know what's coming up and be ready for it. These daily schedules will also include time for keeping their little brains sharp. Sorry kids, no slacking during the summer!

Plan out the week with my husband. To lessen the crazy during the week, I plan to keep my husband in the loop and ask for help when I need it. I'm really bad at this and trying to be better. I already know there are several days when two or more of us need to be in multiple places at the same time, and that is going to require coordination!

All of these ideas can be adapted for younger kids as well. Kids crave structure from a young age and like to participate in the planning process. Find what works for your family and keep it as simple or as structured as you like.

I really do love the summer and the extra time I get to spend with my kiddos. They are all growing up so fast, so I very much want to cherish this time and cram as much fun into the summer as possible. Just want to make sure I don't lose my mind while doing it!