Summer Vacation Rules

summer vacation
Hello first week of summer vacation. Let’s see, so far we have made our own bubble mix and bubble wands, made our father’s day gifts and cards, been to a concert, had very long (but fun) playdates, grilled out, played games, been to Portland, we’ve been to the water, limitless kid crafting, had some really fun music in heavy rotation, made cookies, painted wooden articulated lizards, filled up our Ipods and listened to them, and watched a couple movies.
Keep in mind we are wrapping up our first week. I am completely exhausted.
Summers are quite an event on their own around here. “Oh, how great that now they can sleep in”, I am told. Great! Only, my kids are up at dawn. And I forgot that kids eat all day when they are hanging out at home. All day. They graze. They nibble. They snack. “Drink all your milk before you get down from the table please”, thinking this will keep them sated, but it never does. I love that I control all this food, and can offer them some healthy choices, but I never seem to get out of the kitchen.
As a result of all of this, I have temporarily set aside my goal to post a summer list of activities. I am instead focusing on a summer rule list. Now, before you out there think I’m a little militant (what? rules for summer!?), here me out. My work still continues through the summer months, maybe not at full capacity, but its here and there’s no one else to do it. And as much as I like to think I can multi-task with the best of them, I can’t work and fetch food (…and lost shoes…and balls that get stuck in trees) all at the same time. I explained to Peter the other day that the hard part is that everybody thinks that what they need is way more important than what I’m doing at that moment, no matter what it is. Everyone else’s loose ends are to be my priority. I don’t fault anyone for that (I mean, its really nice to be needed so much, it is!), but its very hard for me to stay focused. My kids are 10 and going on 8, so they are older and not sticking their fingers into electrical sockets, but there still plenty of need there, but more of the “I’m bored, let’s bake a cake” variety. If I can’t drop and run to be with them at that moment, I feel guilty. I do.
And you see, without realizing it, our kids are brought up and dare I say, enjoy even, a little predictability in their lives. When I realized this, im a small attempt to keep things moving and positive, I made a poster and put it in the hallway upstairs. Just a few simple rules. Know what? Its working. We have blocks of time and activities that everyone is on board with. Here’s our list-

*No TV or screen time during the week days. (As a kid, on Saturday mornings, I got up, made my own breakfast, and watched cartoons, and in that tradition, they do the same.)

*Everyone must be outside at least 1 hr a day (I’ve started following this as an example to the kids and its doing me as much good as the kids.)

*1 practice worksheet every day. (Emma does a math one, Ian does one to practice his handwriting. I bought a couple of skill builder books on amazon, but you could also pull some off the internet with a thorough search). Their teachers recommended these and so far, a success. We sit together at the kitchen table, spend 15 minutes working on these, then we’re done. Ian’s handwriting is already showing signs of improvement, I wish I’d done this sooner.

*On weekday mornings we are dressed by 9:00 am (considering how early my kids get up, this works really well and feels mentally more motivating if we want to leave the house.)

*When mom is working, wait till she’s done (unless there is bloodshed). I ask for a couple of hours (or what is realistic) from the family every day, so I can catch my breath on the work stuff or correspondence (I set the timer). From there, I’m theirs, so to speak. Any work I do the rest of the is random, it’ll be mostly life stuff…laundry, food, making that cake with the kids, etc.

*Ask yourself if you could do it all by yourself first. (This would apply to things like getting a glass of milk, cheese and crackers, a bandaid, a book from the basement, things like that.)

So that’s our list for now. I’m reminded again that my kids are so visual in their learning, having these things written, and not just spoken, makes a huge difference.
Success here during the summer months is very dependent on my attitude, if I’m positive, everybody stays positive for the most part.

  • melissa

    June 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I need a list. bad. I need a boy who could read the list.

  • Vintage Chica

    June 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Love your list Blair…today was our first fill day home from school and my kitchen sink is full of dishes (mostly cups). Im making a use your waterbottle all day and then we’ll wash it at night rule. Otherwise I’ll be washing 20 gazillion cups each night. Happy summering!

  • jenn

    June 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I liked the practice books. I had some fun ones when I was little- how to count (types of numbers etc) in different languages (including roman i think!).

  • Kelley Hart Jenkins

    June 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    That’s an awesome list! My only child is almost 13 and life is so easy, you’ll see. We’ve been following your Saturday rule for years–love it. Happy summer!

  • Kelley Hart Jenkins

    June 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    That’s an awesome list! My only child is almost 13 and life is so easy, you’ll see. We’ve been following your Saturday rule for years–love it. Happy summer!

  • Kelley Hart Jenkins

    June 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    That’s an awesome list! My only child is almost 13 and life is so easy, you’ll see. We’ve been following your Saturday rule for years–love it. Happy summer!

  • Erin

    June 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    i’m unabashedly copying you. this is really fantastic!

  • Lisa Clarke

    June 19, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I’m with you. I did something similar this afternoon, in fact. It’s not a list of rules, so much as a list of daily routines and a general weekly schedule. I think the structure will do us good.

  • Heather - Dollar Store Crafts

    June 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Good rules. I used some of those on my employees when I was a manager! Ha ha! (The “can you do it yourself” one is the one I’m thinking of. No, I don’t need to find the packing tape for you, you can do that yourself!)

  • craftydabbler

    June 19, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Great list. Thanks for the idea.

  • melissa Crowe

    June 19, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Oh, this is so good to read right now. Annabelle has just completed her first year of school after being home schooled until age 9, and so I am terribly shocked at how much at loose ends I am with regard to how to entertain her now that school’s out. I think structure _is_ the key, and I’m going to write some rules of my own!

  • Kristine

    June 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Nothing wrong with rules, especially during the summer break when I find we need it the most. I look forward to your list every summer. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I can’t believe you have accomplished so much with the kids in one week!

  • se7en

    June 20, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Excellent post!!! Nothing like a couple of ground rules to prevent a mother person spinning from one “I need you right now”… to the next, and getting absolutely nothing done herself… not even the simplest chore!!! Hope your summer gets better and better.

  • Bri

    June 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I can’t believe you’ve done that much already! Sounds like you’re having a really fun summer. I’m jealous.

  • urban craft

    June 20, 2009 at 11:07 am

    It’s the battle of the polar bear vs lion, with a little hippo, dinosaur, turtle and I think a gorilla in there too? Who won?

  • tali buchler

    June 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    i was just thinking how i need to set up some structure for the summer. i like the idea of writing the rules down and hanging them somewhere visible. we are moving to a new house next week, and i think that will be one of the first things we are going to do.

  • Jess

    June 20, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    OH! Love the waterbottle idea—when we are out and about we do this, but didn’t think about using them at home so much—great idea!

  • Jess

    June 20, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    we also just made it through our first full week off and i’m exhausted to. I never thought having fun could start to feel like work, but i’m ready for a lazy day at home. Thanks for your post as I know I’m not alone, and also to remind me to set aside a couple hours a day for my work (that hasn’t been touched all week). We also avoid screen/tv time during weekdays.

  • cleo

    June 21, 2009 at 2:07 am

    BRAVO!!! Fantastic set of rules!!!! A pitty my 4 year old cant read!!! LOL …. hope I remember this post in a couple of years time!!!

  • Kim

    June 21, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Great list of rules. We have a similar set-just not written- must do that pronto! Oddly, we feel more relaxed when we have more structure to our days in our house. I too work from home and struggle to find the time to do everything I was able to do when school was in session. Love your blog, btw.

  • betz

    June 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Yay Blair! I love this and am going to copy it right now. Our only rule so far this summer has been to limit TV time to 1 hour a day. (sadly, our usual was much higher so this is an improvement) I like the 1 hour outside. (we kick them out but haven’t stated and amount of time)Thanks for this!

  • kate

    June 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    i have to admit, i can’t wait until my kids are old enough to read and put into action such a list! i know we all have our struggles, but i feel like you’re lucky!

  • Canela

    June 21, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Respectfully, take a deep breath and relax. My son’s (21) best childhood memories are of unharried summer days when he could run and play with friends, read for hours, paint, erect forts, etc., and just be.
    Check out, a beautiful blog, to catch a glimpse of a leisurely and rich childhood in modern times.

  • Susan

    June 22, 2009 at 6:32 am

    what a great idea. i still have a 3 year old (in addition to two that are closer to your children’s ages) the little one still requires more assistance. thanks for sharing!

  • Jennifer Smith

    June 22, 2009 at 7:13 am

    What a terrific idea! I will have to do something very similar this summer.

  • patricia

    June 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    This is such a great idea! I’m with Betz—I will be copying this right away!

  • OrigamiMommy

    June 23, 2009 at 2:50 am

    First of all, I love the photo at the top of the post. We have some of those same animals and it’s always amusing to see how the children play with them.
    Secondly, I really do relate to this quite a bit. The grazing, the need for structure, the needs of older children – it’s all so familiar to me. Right now we live in a city so it’s hard to get the outdoor time I desperately want everyone to have. Summers are hot, muggy, unpleasant, and we live in a country where school continues until the end of July. So I enjoy reading about your summer because it reminds me of what summer days are like back home and what I want our children to experience again before too much time goes by.

  • emily

    June 23, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    you are so so so so right about the predictability factor. i have often wondered whether life would be easier if we – my children and i – were better able to live with less structure/order/predictability. but we’re not, so i’m constantly trying to balance our mutual needs for the structure and the freedom. this list is excellent! and, like erin, i’m stealing it too if you don’t mind!

  • blair/wisecraft

    June 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Emily, steal away! We're into week 2 and, thanks to me being persistent about staying within the rules (a discipline I'm learning) its working. Things so quickly work themselves into our routine, and become just part of the day. As a matter of fact, on Monday we were out of the house all day, and Ian reminded me that we hadn't done our practice worksheets that day!

  • Shelly P

    June 25, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I Love this…. Yes, the kids graze all day. A few summers ago I realized I spent the entire summer making food cleaning up and making food again.
    Now we have designated snack/lunch times in summer. If the kids are hungry between those times there is a stocked fruit bowl in which they can help themselves.

  • shannon

    June 25, 2009 at 8:53 am

    i love your summer rules! i think i will adopt them myself! thanks for the inspiration!

  • blair/wisecraft

    June 25, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I totally forgot about the stocked fruit bowl! We have one out, but it could be placed in easier reach (and easier to see for the shorter members of the family). I'm going to go move it now. Thank you for reminding me!

  • Francine

    June 26, 2009 at 1:22 am

    ha! My thoughts exactly – the entire post, and this comment from Melissa! How did you both read my mind!?

  • A Magical Childhood

    July 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    We have no lists, but I am occasionally more guilty than the kids of being in my nightgown past a respectable time. 😉 I honestly am glad we are listless but I understand that all families have different needs.
    To solve the snack issue, I recommend setting aside a spot for each child where they can help themselves to healthy foods (a nice variety) all day and don’t have to bug you. This can be a little lunchbox, a drawer in the fridge, a little insulated cooler or a party platter (our kids got “lunch tray” types with compartments and nifty designs for a dollar each for this). Load them up with things like trail mix, fruit, cheese cubes, pretzel sticks, cherry tomatoes, whatever. They can nibble as they like throughout the day.
    I do make up lists for myself on a lot of days, with chores I want to get done and such. I always add child-related items like read to Jack, do a messy craft with the kids, play outside, have one-on-one time with Anna and so on so I don’t accidentally do all work stuff and miss out on the other important stuff. It keeps me on my toes. 🙂

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