I know, I know. “Summer” and “schedule” aren’t meant to be placed in the same sentence. I wish I could be a laissez-faire parent who enjoys the freedom of summer without hiccup, I really do. But as I learned three years ago during my first summer as a stay-at-home mom, a schedule equals my sanity.
Now that my children are a little older (they are 9 and 5), my schedule is much less stringent. I no longer have an Excel spreadsheet with time scheduled for each of us in 30-minute increments. (Don’t laugh; it was a lifesaver! Click here to view my schedule for my summer when they were younger.)
The schedule for my children now that they are older deals in more generalities, with a focus more on the “spirit of the law,” than “the letter of the law” so to speak.
By sharing my 2016 Summer Sanity Schedule, I hope you don’t think I have it all together. Frankly, if I had it all together, I probably wouldn’t need this schedule. In many ways when I share what I do in my home I feel like I’m one beggar showing another beggar where to find food. Time will tell if I really had any idea in 2016 what I was doing, but this is my best shot!
Unlike during the school year, my kids are allowed to watch Netflix when they get up in the morning. At 8:30 or 9 a.m., the TV goes off.
I encourage them to do their daily and weekly chores, which my son does with gusto. (I’ll explain why in a moment.) They can also use this time to play or read their required 20 minutes. The only rule for this period is no screens.
*The chores are mounted in a 12×12 glass frame, which is hung by their rooms. They use a dry erase marker to check off the chores for each day.
At 11 a.m. we prepare and eat lunch.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. is their daily allotted video game time. If they haven’t completed their chores or done their reading time, they aren’t allowed to begin until that’s done. But the games still go off at 3, regardless of when they began.
At 3 p.m. they are allowed free play, which may include swimming or playing outside, until dinner.
Evenings aren’t scheduled, except for reading a chapter of a book together before bed. Right now we’re reading Priscilla Shirer’s book for middle schoolers, The Prince Warriors.
In the past I required reading and then allowed the kids to earn more screen time by reading more. This year I’m trying the 1-3 time slot for video games. First, it is not nearly as hard to keep up with on my part, and I don’t get whining on what time they actually started playing or about how “they’re not finished with this round!” (Can you relate?)
Second, I want to encourage reading as a joy in itself, not as a chore to complete to earn something more fun. Third, it ensures they complete their daily chores by 1 p.m. rather than me having to remind them all day.
Because I no longer do the minute-for-minute reading for video game time, I am offering a way to read for rewards. Both Drew and Alyssa get smiley faces for reading certain books. When each earns 5 smiley faces, they can choose a reward, such as a milkshake, no chore day, or small amount of money.
*Drew is on a 4th grade reading level. For this level, he can read 3 picture books (well under his level but he enjoys them anyway) for 1 smiley face. Chapter books will equal 2 smiley faces per one Accelerated Reader point value. Chapter books not listed on Accelerated Reader will earn 1 smiley face per 40 pages. “Bingo” is a fun alternative where he can read pre-selected books (thus enlarging his reading genre) and when he gets 5 in a row, he gets a bonus smiley face for reading these different books. I printed off Bingo sheets (available for 1st-6th grade reading levels from The Happy Housewife here.)
*Alyssa will start kindergarten in the fall but is reading on a 1st grade level. Her chart is much simpler, based on whether she reads a “My First Reader” or Step 1 book (1 smiley face), Step 2 book (2 smiley faces), or Step 3 book (3 smiley faces). For books not graded in this way I will estimate.
Both children also get smiley faces when we complete our family books over the summer. Because the book we’re currently reading, The Prince Warriors, is on a middle grade level, I will give them a full 5 smiley faces for listening to me read that book when we finish.
**The charts above were created from a template I found on this page at livingwellmom.com.
This year in order to teach fiscal responsibility, we are giving the children opportunities to earn more money with extra chores. These are chores not part of their daily responsibilities but chores their dad or I would otherwise do. For example, they will get $2 for mopping the master suite or the kids’ side of the house. Drew gets up to $5 for helping his dad mow. These chores are listed on their chore chart so they know what they can do to earn extra money. The only rule is their regular chores must be up to date before they can earn money for more chores. He also sells our chicken’s eggs in lieu of an allowance.
I created 3 jars for Drew to understand the concept of giving, spending, and saving. We expect him to give 10%, save 40%, and he can spend 50%. This is also teaching him math and money management.
*I printed out these labels from Three Little Monkeys Studio here. (The vertical white lines are not part of the labels; it was a printer problem.)
We are still doing memory verses for rewards like we did over the school year. It worked really well having it written on our chalkboard-painted pantry door. Drew is very good at memorizing his verses over breakfast. Currently he is memorizing Psalm 139, one verse at a time.
Now, as with any schedule, we are flexible, depending on what is going on each day. When we have play dates or run errands, we’ll adjust our day. But when it’s just us home all day, having this schedule helps make summer days more fun. And this system helps me keep my sanity, the most important goal of all.
Here’s to a fruitful, fun, and SANE summer!