The summer sun is making regular appearances, and warm days are now the norm. We’re wrapping up those end-of-year school events. Summer is here! I love the laidback sense the season offers and the rejuvenation that comes with a break in the rigidness of school year routines.
So what are your plans? Have you thought it out, planned it out? Our family has to have a game plan for the three months of summer. With two toddlers, a preschooler, and a soon-to-be first grader, chaos has to be managed, crowd control enforced, and a sense of routine felt in order to reap the benefits of the season. So here is our six-pronged plan for our summer with lots of kids.
My children’s Montessori school year starts later and ends earlier than many other schools, so we are staring down twelve weeks of unstructured time. That is a long time to be home with lots of littles! I have staggered camps for the kids so that each week is a different combination of children home with me. There are weeks where two children are home and two are at camps. There are some weeks where one is home and the other three are at camp. We also have a few weeks where they are all home and a couple weeks where they are all somewhere.
I like that I can spend some quality time with each of them alone and in different combinations. It is important to foster relationships between siblings, give the children opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, and give myself realistic, manageable, and quality-filled days.
I get that summer camps can be costly. We have found it beneficial to sign up for camps over several months to spread out the cost. We also select camps that are as low cost as possible — I have found church and town rec programs to be the most affordable. My husband and I decided to put a value on childcare in order to retain a bit of sanity, so we are willing to spend more in that category of our budget. And while it may appear to be a lot of time we are sending them away, many of the camps are really only one or two hours a day and some are not even a full week. This schedule will give my kids a mix of regular routine and structure, and plenty of opportunities for unstructured time and imaginary play.
At this point we are still in the exposure stage with our children — we are checking in on several interests to find out what they really enjoy. So they will attend a variety of camp programs, including soccer, basketball, golf, drama, farm, church, and ninja camp (plus toddler camp for the two youngest).
We talked out what we would like to do as a family and created a summer bucket list. It is not too long and feels possible. The kids want to go to Boston, take a trip to the zoo, check out an adventure park, go to the beach, pick blueberries and strawberries, and play at a splash pad. The beauty of the list is it is not mandatory. It doesn’t have to happen. It is there to fill in gaps, combat boredom, offer a reward, or to be spontaneous. It includes some new ideas as well as adventures we go on each summer.
We bought a house last year with a pool. The kids love having their friends over to go swimming, and they have already shared with me a mile-long list of friends they’d like to invite. We will also look to meet up with friends for ice cream dates, playground adventures, and beach days.
We have an end-of-summer camping vacation planned for Acadia National Park in Maine, and we’ll take a weekend trip to Lincoln, New Hampshire. That’s it. We really enjoy being home for the summer and soaking in the season. So traveling during this time is not high on our priority list. Also, when we think about our budget, we have opted to provide our children with an age-appropriate, personality-appropriate schedule for the summer. So we put more money toward that category and less toward vacations.
We want to make sure we don’t forget things that are often neglected in the midst of big plans. We will go to the public library and check out books. We will lie on the ground and look at the clouds and daydream. We will take morning walks on the beach and throw rocks into the ocean at dusk. Ice cream is for certain, as are walks by the lighthouse and around our neighborhood. We won’t forget about riding bikes, shooting hoops, blowing bubbles, drawing with chalk, and searching for wildflowers. And we will grill and eat outside, play with water balloons, go swimming, play tag, roll around in the grass, search for bugs, catch butterflies, and be lazy and bored. We will spend most of our time in this category!
That’s it. It may seem like a lot. Or it may seem like not much at all. It is the game plan, but we are open to the unknown of summer as well. The flexibility of summer allows us the opportunity for ideas to evolve as the days unfold. We have structure and freedom. We have complicated and simple.
I’m so excited for the season! What are you and your kiddos doing this summer?