Summer is a sweet time of “sabbath” for children – rest from the labors of school work and most organized activities. While the down time and less rigorous schedule can be a gift, it can also create stress for both mom and children if things are too carefree. To that end, I created a daily “checklist” for each of my children to help provide a little routine in our days, while still allowing for the needed down time. Each child’s check list is different but it includes things like this:
- Make bed/ clean up room
- Eat breakfast
- Clean up kitchen/dishwasher load or unload
- Bible study time
- Practice piano or guitar
- 1 chapter in a required summer reading book
- 1 chapter in a pleasure reading book
- Review bible verses on Scripture Typer
- Review math facts/ other school review
I laminated their lists, and put a magnet on the back so they stick to the refrigerator. They manage it themselves by crossing off each item with a dry erase marker. When they have completed their checklist, they can have their media time for the day. The reward of media time at the end is enough to keep them motivated when working on math facts is less-than-exciting. Then the rest of the day is free to play outside, swim, have friends over, or play a game.
This routine also serves to set parameters on media time. Playing electronic games is a privilege and reward after working hard on other things. And on a given day, if there isn’t time for Bible study or summer reading, there probably isn’t time for video games! However, this system assumes that electronic games are not available to children at all times. It won’t work if your kiddos have access to video games on their devices (or yours) at any time they want. Our children do not have video games on their phones, and are require to “check-out” their iPads or play Wii only when it is designed media time. (See this blog post for more on how we have handled electronics in our home.)
While summer can be a much-needed break for the children, I’ve learned that it’s more of a time of rest for my children than for me as a mom. I can find myself even busier during the summer as I strive to help them have a fulfilling summer. It has been helpful for me to recognize this and set expectations.
Often in the summer we are out town, at camp, or doing something fun for the day and there is no time for the check list. However, on the days we are home, this provides just the right amount of routine and accomplishment. It allows me to feel like we have some rhythm and have been somewhat productive, and then I feel free to let the rest of the day feel lazy and carefree.