It’s officially summer break!
We have a lot of big things going on this summer: we’re moving into our new house, we’re going to Florida, EK has a summer day camp, and Opal’s slated to go to obedience lessons. There’s also lot of little adventures we’ll be getting into: blueberry and strawberry picking, trips to the library and farmer’s market, and assorted other fun things.
But between all these fun things, I want to make sure that EK keeps to a schedule because structure is good for kids, even on summer break. I also want her to keep up with and add new responsibilities to the ones she already has.
And so, our summer schedule was born! See also: a wake up routine, daily chores list, and a rewards system.
Let’s have a quick jaunt through the routine.
Wake up starts at 7:30, very technically. In all actuality, EK tends to wake up earlier than that. If she wakes up before 7:30, she can choose to stay in bed and read a book (or two!) or she can choose to go ahead and start her morning routine. Her morning routine, however, must be started at 7:30. Her morning routine includes getting dressed, putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, and brushing both her teeth and hair. If she finishes these before 8:00, she can have extra quiet play time.
The catch is, she can’t come bother me before 8:00. I also have a morning routine, which includes taking a shower and getting ready for the day, taking the dog out to potty, preparing breakfast, and getting together a general to-do list for the day.
At 8:00, it’s time for breakfast. If I’m making a hot breakfast, it will be ready by then. If it’s something she can put together herself — like cereal — she’s in charge. The thirty minutes allotted to breakfast time equals the time it takes to eat breakfast, talk about our plan for the day, and clean up. EK’s in charge of cleaning her own dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, as well as throwing away any trash she’s managed to accumulate and wiping the table down.
8:30 brings morning chores. She has two thirty minute periods per day devoted to chores. She has her daily responsibilities, which she must do every day, and those are to make her bed, tidy her room, clean her dishes, and putting dirty clothes in the hamper. During each thirty minute chore period, she has to choose three extra chores from the list of chores and do those. Some examples of the chores she can choose from are folding laundry, putting laundry away, tidying her bookshelf, vacuuming or sweeping a room, emptying small trashcans, wiping kitchen counters or mirrors, cleaning under her bed, replacing toilet paper rolls, tidying the patio or closet, dusting furniture or walls, picking up trash, unloading the stuff within her reach from the dishwasher, or Mom’s choice.
Ten chores may sound like a lot, but I think because they’re broken into smaller steps, she’ll be more successful with them. She can also choose which three chores she wants to do at any given time, but there are also incentives to do extra chores or to complete all the chores on the list within a week.
After she’s done with her chores, 9:00 ushers in the learning portion of our summer schedule. EK came home with two thick workbooks to get her ready for 2nd grade, so we’re going to put them to use. She’s going to be required to complete one page, back and front, in each workbook (math and reading). Of course, I have a ridiculously smart child, so I may actually have to put a cap on how many pages she can do per day to make sure she doesn’t finish the workbooks too early into the summer.
When she completes her workbook pages, she’ll have a daily article to read and write a response to. I plan on getting her a composition journal for these. She can glue or staple the article on the backside of one sheet and write her response on the following page.
After she completes all those activities, she’ll be allowed to get on her iPad to play either Lexia, a reading program, or Prodigy, a math program.
At 10:00, it’s activity time! I imagine that we’ll get in a lot of swimming during this period of time, which is great because nothing tires a kiddo out like a pool does. This could also be an extra morning walk at the Greenway with the dog if the weather permits. This is also the period of time for arts and crafts, cooking, or STEM projects — basically, anything sort of activity that requires an adult or an extra pair of hands.
12:00 brings lunch. Unlike the other meal times, lunch gets a whole hour. This is because lunch is something we make together, and also when I get a jump start on preparing for dinner. She’s still gotta do the same cleaning up that breakfast called for. This is also the time where she can watch an episode of something on the television or play a game on her iPad. This could also be time where she gets to FaceTime her family that lives far away.
1:00 brings quiet time. I, personally, love when we have quiet time — and I’m sure many other parents do too! She has a lot of different options for quiet time. I’m planning on making a set of quiet bins that correspond to each day. Each box will have a theme and each box will only come out on its specific day. One box may have art supplies, one box may have Lego or other “construction” supplies, one may have an independent STEM activity that I regularly change out, one may have sensory objects like gak and slime, etc. She can choose to do one of the quiet bin activities with the caveat being that if she doesn’t clean up a quiet bin, it will go out of rotation during the next week.
The main point of quiet time is that she does activities that are quiet. She can play in her room, play with a quiet bin, take a nap, read a book — it’s just got to be quiet and unplugged.
After quiet time, comes snack at 2:00. Something I enacted last year that has lasted us well throughout the school year is the “snack drawer.” This is a drawer in the kitchen at her level that is always stocked with snacks. I take one day a month and portion out every kind of shelf-stable snack that can be thought of and stick them in the snack drawer. Then, when it’s time for snack or she needs a snack to take to school, she simply goes over to the snack drawer and chooses what she wants for the day. I also keep a section of the fridge portioned off for snack items that need to be kept cold and for juice boxes. Some examples of common snack items in our house include granola bars, pretzels, fruit snacks, dried fruit, wheat thins, crackers, cheese sticks and mini cheese wheels, and fresh fruits and veggies. At the end of the day, every snack she chooses herself is mommy-approved which makes me feel good about what she’s eating.
At 2:30, I unleash her into the world. She gets two-and-a-half hours of outside time. The only reasons she should be inside is if she needs to go to the bathroom or if she needs to get a drink. I’m not so picky when it comes to outside time; my two rules are that it needs to be safe and she needs to stay on our street. If she wants to go to the playground, she needs to let me know so I can go with her. That’s really it.
It also gives me extra prep time for dinner, which happens at 5:00. I don’t know what it is about 5:00, but that’s when I feel dinner should be. I get a little perturbed if dinner doesn’t happen at 5:00. I have a whole meal planning routine that really works well for my personality — I won’t get into it here, because it’s worth a whole post on its own — and keeps my grocery bill down very low. I also recently got an Instant Pot, so I’m excited to include that into my meal prepping repertoire as well. Same deal as breakfast and lunch — EK has to clean up after herself.
After dinner comes her evening chores at 5:30. It’s the same deal as with morning chores: she chooses three chores from the list and gets them done in that thirty minute time span. For those of you playing along at home, that roughly breaks down into ten minutes per chore.
6:00 is bath time, also known as “get ready for bed” time. She can spend as little or as long in the tub, but she has to come out clean. She also has to brush her hair and teeth again, put on her jammies, and start winding down for bed, which comes at 7:00.
And then the next day, we’re off again!
Of course, this schedule doesn’t account for things like errands or tiny adventures. For instance, every Saturday, we go to the farmer’s market or she might spend a weekend with one of her grandparents. While routine and structure are very important, especially for kiddos’ developing brains, I think it’s also important to have spontaneity and activities that don’t strictly fit into the routine. It’s important to know that while you might have the best schedule ever, random things are still going to pop up — and that shouldn’t be a cause for anxiety. I want my kid to be prepared for all of the world when she gets older and that includes time management, responsibilities, and being able to go with the flow.
Be on the lookout for my next post — I’m going to go into more detail about our chore list and our minutes reward system because they deserve a post of their own.