Finally, Summertime is upon us! However, for most of us, that means an increase of kids and their friends in your homes with all the mess and distractions that entails. Juggling everything from food prep to outdoor activities while trying to keep up with general housekeeping can be overwhelming. These kid friendly organizational systems can make every day of summer so much easier and more relaxing for everyone.
Here are some amazing tips on how to provide structure for your kids and give you the motivation to manage the endless summer distractions so that everyone can enjoy the summer fun.
How to Keep Kids Occupied and Organized this Summer
Schools out for the summer... now what? This age old questions seems to puzzle parents every year as we think up creative ways to keep kids entertained while still maintaining a busy schedule of work and running a household. Check out these tips and tricks below for some ingenious ideas on how to keep your kids occupied and YOU organized this summer.
Routines are KEY
If your children are anything like mine, a summer routine can help them to thrive while also easing the transition back to school at the end of the summer. Plan a few activities each week that are consistent in order to provide structure.
If there is variation in their schedule, invest in a large family calendar or a smaller one for their room so they can see what they are going to be doing and when. You would be surprised how quick they are to catch on to their own schedules and “remind you” when you completely forget that they have a piano lesson because it is indeed Wednesday.
Maintain Wake and Sleep Schedules
Consistent sleep schedules can be difficult to maintain in the summer. An occasional deviation from the normal sleep schedule may not cause too much of a problem, but it is important to make sure that your kids are getting a consistent amount of sleep. The summertime often involves more physical activity and sun exposure that is sure to tire anyone out, especially kids. Maybe let them sleep in later in the morning or budget in for a small nap during the day to keep kids at a consistent level of energy for a smoother summer.
Fun Learning Ideas
Towards the springtime, I like to talk to each child to uncover what they might like to do over the summer. We have some amazing summer programs and classes in our area through local organizations that I always like to look into. Even if we don’t sign up for a specific class that is being offered, I can always get some great ideas for things that we can do around our house if there happens to be a change in plans or a bad weather day.
Balancing fun in the sun with the indoors
Time to soak up the sun for everyone. Kids love being outside especially during the summer. Not only does this give your home a chance to be free from the chaos that kids tend to bring with them, but it also allows you to catch up on a few things.
Schedule going outside at the same time each day so your kids have something to look forward to and you can use this time to also be productive. Find yourself a nice spot in your yard while the kids play. You can easily pay some bills and go through emails while supervising. At the end of the day your kids are sure to have a calmer evening and sleep sounder at night.
Growing up we always had increased chores during the summer and “Mom Bucks.” What exactly are “Mom Bucks”? Well, this is imaginary money that can be earned from chores and other deeds to be redeemed for items or experiences. Not only does this incentivize kids to keep on task, but they also can learn about hard work and saving at the same time. You would be surprised how quickly kids want to help when they can earn more "Mom Bucks" towards an ice-cream cone or trip to the zoo.
When you do have a free day in your schedule, reach out to some friends and family and plan some outings together. The summer is a great time to enjoy activities like a pool day or an outdoor barbecue.
Finding some activities that you would enjoy as well is a great way to keep your kids occupied and gives you a chance to enjoy the finer weather too. Reach out to some of your friends and see if they would like to have outside time together or even rotating playdates especially on days when the weather is poor and kids are stuck inside.
At our house we make sure to do our seasonal fashion show to go through clothing items. I make sure to pack away clothing and shoes according to the season so I can easily find items that might fit both girls. Then I make a list of items that I need before I head to the store. Anything that is too small for both girls now, I pack in a travel bag to give to family, friends, or charity.
Summer School Fun
Believe it or not, summer is a great time for kids to be learning and engaged. Look into activities at home or a local camp program to keep your children learning throughout the summer.
Try an at-home activity like gardening with kids and learn all about horticulture. Plus, as the summer evolves, your children can water and tend the plants. Consider making a special meal with your harvest at the end of the summer. It's the little things in life that make a summer special for kids and YOU.
Change of season is a great time to take inventory of items that are commonly used up during the year. Now is the time to assess some of your command stations in your home and see what needs a resupply. Going into the summer months, make sure to stock up on label tape so you can easily label items for camp or playdates.
Seasonal Switch Up
Now that finer weather is upon us, it is time to get all the fun outdoor summer equipment out. Make an inventory of items that might need to be replaced or swapped out for larger sized items like bikes. This is a great time of the year to have a yard sale or find someone with kids that might love a gently used bike or scooter. Make sure to check that safety equipment still fits appropriately and order any items that you might need replaced now.
For any outdoor items, take a look and see what can still be used or what could be purged. Mildew is frequently on outdoor water items, but you can try a 50:50 mixture of water and vinegar to remove mildew from your items. Either mix the solution in a spray bottle and let the item soak or place the items in a sink with the mixture. Let sit for 10-15 minutes and then gently scrub affected spots with a nylon-bristle brush. Simply rinse off the item and let dry in the sun before you put them in their designated areas for the season.
Take your out of season items and put them away into totes or long term storage solutions in your attic/basement/shed so they are out of the way for the summer months. Before you put them away, order any replacements now when those fall/winter items might be on sale. Save some money and be prepared ahead of time for the next year.
Activity only zones
Fun summer activities seem to call for more mess for some reason! Take some time now to set up areas in your home or yard that are designated for play areas. Fill these zones with items that can be easily accessed by your kids WITH easy access to clean up materials. Maybe you want to have some fun with slime this summer? Make the kitchen the only area of your house that it can be made or played with. This way you can easily clean up the mess that is created during the slime making adventure and save your duvet cover from being stained from slime residue.
Make sure you let everyone know that you have these fun areas throughout the house that are only for specified activities. This is an easy way to keep your house clean and mess more confined. When it comes to assigning a home for your kids’ things, make sure your kids are able to reach all the items they need. If you don’t want the kid’s toys to be in the common living spaces, store them in their bedrooms or in a play room. Kids can become more independent and learn a sense of responsibility when they are able to entertain themselves. This gives you more time to work, clean, or just relax. It’s your summer too!
Summer Snack Prepping
In my home, the spring and summer months means MORE snacking. An easy way to keep your kitchen clean and organized during the summer is to be prepared ahead of time by snack prepping once per week. An easy way to prep you snack items is to do it right when you bring them in from the store. Prior to shopping once a week, we go through the fridge and pantry and remove any items that were left over from the week. I make sure to have fresh containers ready to go on the counter so that when we bring in food, we can easily put snacks into containers that are easy to grab. Take the time now to cut up fruit or veggies so they easily be consumed without having to get out a cutting board or knife.
Get the kids involved with what snack items they might want every week and provide them with their own designated snack containers. Labeling each container helps to keep food organized and the kids excited to eat their own snacks.
Water for everyone
It is so important to increase your hydration during the warmer months. Another great item to invest in for the spring and summer are reusable water bottles that are designated for each family member. Pick a color you love or get matching bottles and customize them with each person's name. This way you can save time, money, and the environment while always be prepared with hydration on the go.
Outdoor Supply Station
Summer means lots of sun and bugs, so start stocking up now on sunscreen and bug repellant. I like to pack small bags with outdoor supplies in my kids backpacks for the summertime as well as in the pool bag and my car trunks.
Keep an extra small bag prepared with these essentials in your coat area to give to a sitter who may be watching the kids for the day. Make sure to check your first aid kit and stock up on essentials like bandaids for those cuts that may result from more outdoor playtime.
Keep YOU Organized in the Summer
Summertime makes it hard to focus on you with the stress and demands of entertaining kids, playdates, and endless sports practices. The warm weather is a reminder to ourselves to take some time to rest and recharge our batteries which ultimately make us better parents. Below are some tips that I have picked up to make my summer a time to recharge and reconnect with my family. I hope these help you out too.
Organization for EVERYONE
Kids pick up on EVERYTHING! If you are anything like me, you might spend your time picking up after everyone and when it finally comes to you, your energizer bunny batteries have suddenly died. Take some time for yourself to organize some areas just for you. Maybe it is your home office or your bedroom, but having a place to call your own that is organized can give you a break to recharge your batteries. Plus, the kids are more likely to pick up on great organizing habits if they see you taking care of your own spaces.
Monkey see, monkey do. Take your shoes off and put them in your cubby and see how quick the kids pick up on it and want to do the same.
Make time for YOU
I know how hard it can be to carve out some time for yourself or even the guilt you might feel with leaving your kids to do something on your own. I am here to tell you that it is OKAY and imperative that you take a break to recharge and do something for yourself.
Just like with kids’ activities, you should start blocking some time off on the calendar for you. Maybe the first Friday of every month you take the evening for yourself or maybe you schedule to go away for the weekend every few months. Sometimes the act of marking on the calendar is enough to actually make you do it! In our own house, my husband and I rotate the first weekend each month for each of us to go something separately and then the third month we do something as a couple. This way we each have time to do what we want separately and can also look forward to time spent together.
I hope you enjoyed some of my top tips on How to Keep Your Kids Occupied and YOU Organized All Summer Long. Feel free to leave any of your favorite tips for how you are successfully staying organized with kids during the warmer months in the comments. I am always willing to try the newest tricks in lifestyle and home organization.
Can't wait to catch up on the next blog... Stay Organized.