Y’all, it’s here, and it’s HOT! (I wish I could say I’m talking about some amazing sale on some exotic something or other, but you know what I really mean – the summer. It’s DANG HOT! And it’s still only June!) So how are you doing, mama? I mean, really. Are you surviving? Or are your kids killing each other and you? I’m honestly stuck somewhere in between. But we really are doing pretty good at not killing each other – yet. (I do not anywhere on this blog claim to be the perfect mother, nor have I figured out how to keep my kids from killing each other. If you figure that out, PLEASE let me know!)
Some of the simple procedures I’ve put in place have been helping, and I thought I would share them with you to give you a few ideas and get your wheels turning on things that might work for your family! I’ll be doing four of these Summer Survival posts – with ideas for activities and things you can do both at home and out and about, too, so be sure to check back over the next few days for more ideas! But let’s first start with the basics – procedures.
A friend of mine, Jenn, from Lemondrop Learning, shared a fabulous checklist on her Facebook page a little while back, and I immediately printed it out and stuck it in clear plastic sleeves for my bigs. Each day, in order for them to get to just lay around the house and have screen time, they have to have completed everything on their checklist. And YALL!!! OMG!!! It’s AMAZING!!!! We’ll be using this checklist for the rest of forever for weekends, holidays, any day that we’re not in school. Because it’s brilliant. And I’m in love. And honestly, the kids enjoy it, too! They are proud of themselves when they mark the items off, and it helps them feel accomplished and also gives some self awareness for what they are actually doing instead of just roaming around aimlessly. I’ve also noticed them lose track of time while doing the “required” activities because they’re having so much fun… that it ends up being HOURS before they even ask for a screen!!! Seriously. Y’all NEED this checklist! So – the checklist – from Kimberly at Natural Beach Living, can be found here! Be sure to go print yours out ASAP, and then start using this with your kids – because it WILL change your summer. I promise!
Ok – so beyond this, I have also set in place specific chores at a set time for both of the bigs, because I was lacking in this area since we moved. Before, they had a list of chores, and received stickers for completing them, and they were great about it… and then the house went on the market, the chore sheet had to come down, and well… yeah. So, I have reinstated some of the chores they had before, but with specific assignments – mainly, Gray takes out the recycling each evening after Elle goes to bed, and while he’s doing that, Becca unloads the dishwasher. This routine allows me to get the dishes loaded (I prefer to do that myself rather than having her do that) and the dishwasher started before I go to bed – or in the morning… whenever I choose to do it. And it also helps Gray to not feel like he’s getting “picked on” by having to do “hard work” by himself. Yes, seriously, y’all he is the biggest whiner since the beginning of time when it comes to feeling like something is “unfair.” But whatever cuts the whining, then I’m all about it. Do your chores at the same dang time then!!! LOL. Y’all. Seriously. These kids MAY be the death of me. But, if you have multiple kids, you know what I’m talking about – think about what it is that you can set in place to help you work SMARTER, NOT harder!!! I was getting frustrated about needing to load the dishes, but not wanting to do her job for her… and getting upset by the overflowing recycle bin… so this new routine is working WONDERFULLY!!! Sometimes it’s just about looking at your daily routines and seeing what you can modify to make life easier for everyone!! (Also – side tip – I emphasize to the kids all the time that in our family, we work together for the betterment of EVERYONE – and we talk together as they are doing their family chores about how much it helps our family when they do their jobs, and how important they each are! You’d be surprised how much their chins lift and their lil chests puff out with pride for their work!!)
Another routine I’ve set into our day is of course, reading. We have always read to our kids before bed, but now that they are older and we’re reading throughout the day, you might think we’d lax up on that. NO!!! Bedtime is still the best time to snuggle up and read together with my kiddos, and I’d never trade that time for anything! BUT, because we read a LOT of books, the little summer reading challenge from the library to read eight books was a joke. So, I upped the ante. I said that since the theme was the moon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, their eight books recorded on the library sheet HAD to be about the moon (fiction or nonfiction – their choice)! And I created this summer reading chart for them to record ALL of the books they read! (It’s a free download over on my Teachers Pay Teachers page!) It’s got spots for 100 books, and what I’m doing with my kids is that when they complete a row (read 20 books), they get a Blue Bell Fudgesicle (a huge incentive for my kids!!). When they complete all 100, they’ll get a special trip to our favorite frozen yogurt place. They are SUPER excited about it, and it has really gotten Gray excited about bringing me books to read. I also told him that if, by the end of the summer, he can bring me a book and read it to me COMPLETELY on his own, I’ll let him color in TWO ice cream cones. Becca also gets to color in two ice cream cones for each Harry Potter book she completes. They are so excited about reading, and this is keeping them going, for sure. It also cuts out Becca’s desire to only read chapter books, and I have found her pouring over picture books and reading to Elle and Gray like crazy to count those books! WHATEVER gets her reading all types of books, makes me happy!! 🙂 I love how it also spurs their competitiveness – they want to get their fudgesicles at the same time, so if one has more books than the other, they’ll go check the chart and count how many books they need to read to catch up. It’s WONDERFUL competition, and I encourage it.
We are also excited to try the Summer Reading Bingo challenge that my friend Jenn (mentioned above) has created – you can find it on her Facebook page! Plus, I just learned about Barnes and Noble AND Lifeway Christian Stores that are having reading challenges this summer… although I’m getting frustrated because I’m struggling to find info on their websites… if you know more about these two events, PLEASE share with me so I can pass along to other readers!! There are just so many great ways to encourage your kids to read!!!! Make sure it’s a part of your DAILY routine. (I also *hope* to be sharing more of our favorite book titles over on my Facebook page this summer… so be sure you’ve “liked” and are “following” my posts!)
Another great way to avoid the “summer slide” is to add a daily workbook into your procedures. Around here, it’s just something that must be done. Like homework. Except that y’all, I found some workbooks that the kids aren’t complaining about doing!!! SERIOUSLY!!! Gray actually asks for his workbook. I also can look at what they do for the day and will let them count it as their writing/art activity for their checklist to get their kindle if it applies, so there is that… lol. Elle also loves coloring while they are working on their workbook pages, so it’s kinda fun for them to do them all at the same time. I am NOT an affiliate for EvanMoor publishers, but I sure do love these books since I discovered them, and as a teacher AND a mom, I can highly recommend them. (And I can honestly say, I’ll be buying these for my kids every summer from now til they age out of them!!!) They simply have a front and back of a sheet to do each day of the week, a star to color in for each page when it’s completed, and then for the older kids, there is a space to write about the things done each day, a reading log to color, and for the younger kids, there is a space to draw a picture of the favorite thing they did that week. There’s a good variety of activities in both of the books we have, and I’m pleased with the amount of time it takes them to do the pages, as well – they are quick and not stressful, but have some good content that they do have to stop and think about. Plus, they use super bright colors and lots of pretty pictures, which keep the kids intrigued. I really like all of the fine motor practice in the PreK to K book, too! So I highly recommend you grabbing these books – I found them at my local Lakeshore Learning Store, where I love using my teacher discount card, but here are the Amazon links for your convenience. (I’m no longer an Amazon affiliate – these are just links to help y’all!)
Above all else, make sure that you are employing CONSISTENCY with your kids this summer. For moms who aren’t educators, you may think, “this is their break from school, they should just be able to relax and have fun!” This is true, HOWEVER… school is set up on a daily routine, with clear expectations for behavior AND academic achievement. And it’s set up this way not only because it’s more successful that way, but because KIDS are more successful that way. They NEED clearly explained expectations and structure to thrive. They need scaffolding to help them be successful. So even if all you’re expecting them to do is not kill their siblings, they need guidance on how that’s going to look in your home. They need rules and structure that are clearly defined, and then they need you to be CONSISTENT on how you enforce those rules and provide that structure. They grinch and complain, I know, but try it for a week – see if I’m right. Provide them structure and consistency and watch your own life get more manageable.
Check back here very SOON for my next installment of this Summer Survival Series – where I’ll be sharing super fun and EASY science experiments you can do with your kids – some of which don’t even require purchasing ANY materials – you’ve already got the stuff laying around your house!