By Kendra Johnson
This one is for my fellow exhausted parents and caregivers. We all know that summer can be both a blessing and a curse. While the kids are excited to have a break from school, keeping them entertained can be a challenge, especially when you're running low on energy and creativity. But worry not, because in this blog post, I'll share my personal daily routine and ideas for simple yet fun ways to entertain your little ones during the month of July. Let's dive in!
Setting a Daily Schedule
The most effective way I’ve been able to manage the long summer days is by sticking to a specific schedule to help break up the day. Here’s what my day often includes:
1. Daily Coffee Hour
Daily coffee hour is where I sit and drink coffee and the kids play around me. I am NOT a morning person and this is a must for me. There’s always someone who needs me for something during this time so I rarely just sit the whole hour but it’s still a routine I try to implement.
2. Daily walk
This is getting a bit trickier for me now that I don’t have safe sidewalks but this used to work really well for breaking up my day. Especially when I had just two littles who fit in the double stroller. I would walk an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. This is one that hasn’t been part of my routine lately but I’m actively working on figuring out how to work it back into the schedule.
3. Snack and Stories
Every mid morning we have a snack and read a short chapter book together. I’ll be honest here though. If i’m having a rough morning, I’ll sometimes put on a read aloud video or audio book.
4. Eat Lunch Together
When left to my own devices summer lunch has never been a formal thing. I’d just snack throughout the day, however now that I have a whole crew of littles around me, I find that I need the formal lunchtime to help kill time mid day.
5. Daily Quiet Time
After lunch, my three sons and I go to our own corners of our home and enjoy 60 minutes of alone time. The baby takes a nap in his crib, I chill in my own room to watch a show or scroll social media (and I often take a little nap), and the older two kids each get assigned a room to play in independently. I've found this really helps keep them from fighting all day because it gives them a chance to be away from each other.
6. Strategically Timed Learning Shows
This is where there’s a little bit of flexibility in my day. If the kids are in good moods, well rested and getting along, we won’t watch any shows throughout the day. However there are some days where everyone is in meltdown mode. On the days where everyone is struggling, I’ll put on an educational show like Wild Kratts or Ms. Rachel for 30 minutes to help us all reset.
7. Daily Field Trip
Getting out of the house is key to my sanity/survival. And here is where I specifically budget my summer spending money to ensure I can always pick up an iced coffee (with one cream no sugar) along the way. Not all of these field trips are glamorous. Some days it’s just grocery curbside pickup or even McDonalds to eat apple slices and play on the indoor playset.Here Examples of daily outings we often enjoy:
- the grocery store
- the library
- the splash pad
- Walmart (we don’t have a target in my area or we would definitely be going there!)
- The Park
- Grandpa’s house
- cousin playdates
8. Organized Sports
This is the first summer where I am so grateful for the variety of youth sports available. Until now, my kids have been too young to participate but it is soooo wonderful for someone else to be instructing them to run, jump and play while I get a minute to relax with the baby. Although these can be pricey, I’m very grateful to have each of my older boys in two or three activities this summer each. This summer we’ve done golf lessons, swimming lessons, soccer, TawKwonDo and Gymnastics (based on their individual interests). It’s a lot of fun to watch them engage in these activities.
9. Cooking Dinner Together
Some days my kids really enjoy cooking with me. Others, they'd rather play Pokemon in the living room while I do all the work, and that's ok. As long as I keep letting them sneak in and grab peppers or cucumbers from the veggie plate, they're happy and I'm happy.
Other fun summer ideas for the days that drag:
Even with this set schedule, sometimes there are days where I'm still not sure what to do. Here are a few ideas I've been trying out on those days that are just dragging.
Backyard Water PartyWhen the temperature rises, there's nothing better than a good old water party in your own backyard. Set up a small inflatable pool, lay out some water sprinklers, and watch your kids' eyes light up with joy. Throw in a few water balloons and let them have a splashing good time while you relax nearby with a refreshing beverage.
Indoor Movie Marathon
On those scorching hot days or when a sudden rainstorm hits, an indoor movie marathon is the perfect solution. Transform your living room into a cozy cinema by dimming the lights, arranging pillows and blankets, and popping some popcorn. Let your kids choose their favorite movies or even introduce them to some classic family-friendly films. Snuggle up together and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of cinematic bliss.
DIY Art ProjectsUnleash your kids' creativity by engaging them in simple do-it-yourself (DIY) art projects. Gather some art supplies like crayons, markers, colored paper, and glue. You can try making paper collages, creating handprint animals, or designing homemade greeting cards. Not only will these activities keep your little ones occupied, but you'll also have some adorable keepsakes to cherish afterward.
- Important tip: don’t try to micromanage their art to be "Pinterest perfect." Just let the chaos of art be what it is.
Scavenger HuntTurn your home or backyard into a thrilling treasure hunt adventure. Create a list of items for your kids to find or print out ready-made scavenger hunt clues from the internet. Hide small treats or surprises along the way to keep their excitement levels high. Not only will this game keep them entertained, but it will also stimulate their problem-solving skills and creativity.
Family Picnic in the Park
Take a break from your usual routine and plan a delightful family picnic in a nearby park. Pack some delicious snacks, sandwiches, and refreshing drinks. Don't forget to bring along a Frisbee, a soccer ball, or other outdoor games to keep your kids active and entertained. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and create lasting memories together as a family.
Being a tired mom doesn't mean I can't provide my kids with fun and engaging activities. The ideas I've outlined above are perfect for July because that's when the heat is starting to get to us and our energy is ever draining away. I hope these ideas allow you to keep your little ones entertained while giving yourself a well-deserved break.
Remember, summer is all about embracing the joy and creating precious moments with your children. So, let go of the exhaustion, get creative, and have a fantastic time with your kids this July! You've got this.
Kendra is Director of Digital Resources and curriculum for Small Legacies. A certified elementary educator and parent, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to kids creatively.