by Julia High
All right, so, I hate to break it to you, but this is really happening: we're reaching the end of the preschool year. And that's kind of hard and sad, right? After 9 months together, you've gotten used to the weekly routine, to those 1, 2, or 3 trips to the preschool each week. One of the nice things about school is that it does provide a predictable schedule around which one can create a routine for their kids. Then, suddenly - *poof* - it's gone. But your kids still benefit from a routine! So, how do you create a routine without the externally imposed structure of school? Here are some quick tips to make it easier to create a sustainable summer routine for your children:
- If possible, get your kids involved in planning: Even older toddlers might have an idea they are really excited about sharing with the family! Call a family meeting, and create a list of daily activities - things like mealtimes, tidying up, outside time, etc. that you know need to happen every day, as well as a bucket list - things that would be fun to do during the summer (whether that's a big family trip or making sure that you play with playdough at least once, this is a good time to honor all of your family members' contributions). Don't worry about whether your list sounds crazy to anyone else - this is about you and your family, and what is most important to you!
- Make sure you plan in rest times: whether this looks like one day each week of free choice/downtime, or whether your kids still nap regularly, it's good to make sure that you make time for those slower moments.
- If you know in advance that there will be breaks in the routine (for camp, family trips, etc.), it might help your kids if you have some visual reminder of when those things will occur. If your kids know numbers or have some pre-reading skills starting, a calendar might work for you. Younger kids sometimes like paper countdown chains to help mark how much time there is until a special event.
- If it works for you and your kids, make an easy visual reminder for what a "typical" day looks like. There are about 1 bazillion of these on Pinterest, so pick one you like (though I did quite like this flip-up chore chart, which uses pictures to help show what the task is, and has an easy visual/tactile element of flipping each task closed when it's done).
- Don't hold too tightly to that daily schedule. You have kids, so you know that things can get unspeakably pear-shaped pretty quickly. If you have an off day, that doesn't mean the schedule is broken, or that you are a bad caregiver (though if you have lots and lots of off days, that might mean that it's time to call another family meeting and rethink that daily routine...and that's okay, too!).
Have you ever made a daily routine for summer? What were your favorite parts? Which elements just didn't work?