I’ve already mentioned that Wyatt is not attending summer camp this year, and I think it’s worth noting that I’m a little bit terrified. I’ve had at least a few hours of school time or childcare to lean back on for both kids almost since I started working from home and this will be my first prolonged period where I’m with my kid 100% of the time — day and night — since I became a mom.
I’m excited to give Wyatt a relaxed summer like the ones I had when I was a kid where I spent every day watching “The Price is Right”, building Lego structures on a blanket in our back yard, swimming all afternoon and secretly staying up until midnight reading library books. But times have changed and I have to get at least a little bit of work done every day, so my days with him will require a little more structure than that. I also want to teach my eldest to be a little more independent and to not rely so heavily on video games and Minecraft walk-thrus for his daily entertainment. I know I need to have a few rules in place in order to get through the morning without constant interruptions and requests for snacks.
So, as any planner will do, I’ve come up with a schedule for the summer. Mornings are the toughest for us so I made Wyatt a detailed schedule listing out his responsibilities:
The top half of the chart shows the things he’s required to do every morning. The first five — wash up, get dressed, eat breakfast, put on shoes, be ready to leave the house by 8:55 am — are the daily tasks that he should be doing on his own but that I always have to nag him about. the next three — sweeping, trash duty and laundry — are his allowance jobs. If he doesn’t do them daily, he doesn’t get his money for the week. The next two are fun things — reading and independent play. Reading is actually on there as a formality because he loves to read and doesn’t need to be encouraged to do it, but I think it’s good to set expectations in that area. I’ll get into the independent play stuff down below. He crosses each item off the list as he completes it.
The second half of the chart is the carrot/stick section. Every day, Wyatt has the privilege of having up to 45 minutes of extra morning screen time. He has to complete all of the activities on the chart to get any time at all and I also will dock his time for unpleasant behaviors. The main thing that will get time taken away is if I have to nag him to complete his morning jobs — this is my attempt to encourage him to meet his responsibilities without being asked. Other things that will prompt me to take away five minute chunks include: asking for screen time or snacks, rudeness, back-talk, whining that he’s bored, refusing to help a family member when asked, and excessive complaining. If I take time away, I cross off the relevant chunk both so I can keep track and so he has a visual cue. I’m planning to laminate this chart so we don’t run through a ton of paper.
This all sounds pretty strict, but I’m really only using it as a guide and I’m doing my best to help him with all these goals. My hope is that we aren’t even using the chart within a few weeks because it will all be habit.
One area I’ve been offering a lot of help with is independent play time. I want him to have a fun summer and enjoy himself, so I’ve printed out a list of ideas for him when he’s looking for something to do. Most all of these were pulled from the Summer Fun List and they were selected because he can do them without any help from me at all (or at least with minimal assistance). Here are the things on the list:
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Do a Lego challenge
- Do a Little Passports kit
- Learn a magic trick
- Make a comic book
- Make a movie with a video camera
- Puzzle books
- Read something — book, comics, magazine
- Work on a Cub Scout belt loop/pin
- Write a letter
- Write or draw pictures in a journal
- Build something cool out of cardboard boxes
- Play in the pool and/or the sprinkler
- Ride bikes or scooters
- Set up a treasure hunt for friends or siblings
- Set up an obstacle course and race with friends or time yourself
- Slip ‘n’ slide
- Wash the car
- Make sculptures with modeling clay
- Paint, draw, color, etc.
My friend Whitney and I have also been pinning ideas for independent play for our 8 year old boys to a Pinterest board so more ideas are constantly coming in there.
So far (three days into summer) the list has been working. This week Wyatt has made an origami Han Solo and Millennium Falcon, read 4 novels, taken a couple bike rides, sketched out a Minecraft mod to appeal to his father’s tastes and written a complimentary letter to Doritos in hopes that they will send him coupons for free bags of chips!
The last thing I’ve put together is a rough sketch for our afternoons. I’m making an effort to contain my work time to mornings only over summer break so I have free time to enjoy my kids in the afternoons. I’ve found that without a daily plan I end up puttering around the house too long though, so I’ve put a rough schedule for the week together:
- Monday — library
- Tuesday — At-home activities and/or crafts
- Wednesday — outing
- Thursday — swimming
- Friday — outing
I am not going to be strict about this at all, and if we decide we want to switch things up on a given day that’s awesome. But this will at least give me a jumping off point every afternoon.
How about you? Do you keep a summer schedule with your kids? Or does camp take care of that for you?