Summer break started earlier than usual for us. We knew this was coming earlier than it has been in previous years. About a month before the intended last day of school I received an email from the school district that my kid’s school was getting out two days earlier to give the teachers time to pack up before the remodel begins. Not a huge discrepancy, but something we had to handle, nonetheless.
A little background, I have an almost 10-year-old son, a 6-year-old daughter, and a 4-year-old son. The older two have very clashing personalities. I was working for the same school district to be on the same schedule as they are. With that means I also will be back to staying home with them for the Summer. Though I have investigated other employment options for the Summer, the cost for childcare is literally a full-time job’s income. So, I am staying home with them.
In this era of society, kids are very addicted to screentime activities. We recently came to the realization that the overstimulation that they were getting from the limitless screentime was impacting their behavior in such a negative way. Unfortunately, it took extenuating circumstances for us to realize this, in taking it all away from them, but at least we figured it out sooner rather than later.
With the last day of school being the timeframe we gave for earning screens back, I started to worry about how Summer was going to go. I did not want to spend the entire Summer with 1. Overstimulated kids 2. The negative behavior (fighting, arguing, violence etc.) and 3. Kids that were glued to screens 19 hours out of the day. I know sometimes it is “easier” to just give in to them to keep them occupied on their own, away from each other. But, the negative behaviors were already consuming my sanity and I knew I did not want our Summer making us all insane.
I needed to have a plan. A plan that consisted of structure and time limits.
On top of already thinking about that aspect, I was also thinking about HOW TO KEEP THESE KIDS FROM EATING THE ENTIRE HOUSE. Good food is not cheap, and we are definitely still a budget family. I didn’t want my children bingeing food all day every day. Once again, I needed to have a plan.
I started asking around to see what other people do during the Summer with their kids at home. How do you keep them entertained? Do you limit screentime, if so how did you implement it? What do your kids eat all day long? How do you keep them from wanting to eat every 5 minutes? Most people that I know are working parents, so they still have childcare for their kids during the summer. Of the few that are, like me, staying home with their kids, some were like “oh crap I haven’t even thought of all of that!” and some were like, “they have 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, and I make them go outside”.
I also did my own research, primarily on Pinterest, to see what it had for suggestions for entertainment. I also wanted to rethink their chore lists since it was mostly “school” related things like making their lunches, cleaning out their backpacks, and the like. As I was trying to think of age-appropriate chores, I decided “why not let them decide what they are capable of being responsible for?” I met with each of my kids one at a time and asked them to name 3 household responsibilities that they could be responsible for. I put their 3 things on their list that I made and added 4 of my own to it as well. Here is what those ended up being.
I also decided that Chris and I would have chore charts as well, to set an example for them and give us accountability.
Now that we had chores figured out, I knew that the deal was going to be that they had to have their lists done in order to earn their screen time. I also knew that screen time still needed to be limited to keep their attitudes and behavior from getting too crazy. We decided to start with an hour of screen time and if it can be handled, we will up the limit verses if it cannot be handled (negative behaviors) then it will be reduced.
We haven’t officially started with screens yet but we are set to next week when the kids get back from their glamping trip.
Now that those aspects had been figured out, it was on to the meal planning and trying to figure out how to keep them from bingeing. I had seen this reel, I cannot remember what platform it was on (though that probably doesn’t technically matter as they are usually posted on all of them), of this mom that decided to treat her kitchen like the cafeteria at her kid’s school. Breakfast is from 730am-830am, lunch is from 1130-1230, anytime outside of those times this cafeteria (kitchen) is closed just like at school. I really liked that idea and ran with it. I decided to go ahead and put it on paper, a little menu of sorts, because my kids are mostly independent when it comes to hunting for food. I decided to prep a bunch of food ahead of time so that I wouldn’t spend every day cooking things. Plus, that way they could choose off the menu, like they do at school, for what they wanted. Here is how the current menu we have looks.
I spent a lot of time prepping all of these menu items. My freezer and refrigerator are slightly full now, but at least it’s all good food!
So far, the chore chart and menu have been working wonderfully. The first day of their chore charts took longer than the days following because their rooms were disasters. Once they finally got them cleaned, they realized, “my room is still clean from yesterday so I can just mark that as done!” The older two have been doing really well with all of this and I am so glad! My youngest is still pretty young for hardcore responsibilities, but we are still trying to keep him going with it.
All in all, I feel like this is the best way to keep our sanity in tack for Summer break. Do you implement new rules for the Summer with your kids? Do you have a structured system or a free-range sort of system? Lets talk all about it!