Summer Break: Should you throw the routine out?

kids running on the beach in summer
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School’s out for summer! The kids are beyond excited and roaring to go. You begin to ask yourself should you stick to your routine? We all know that kids function better when they have a routine. Morning routines, bedtime routines, and weekly routines are just some of the routines that help kids stay consistent. They introduce a little bit of schedule, can eliminate many arguments, and help kids become more responsible.

If your child is not in a summer camp or structured summer situation, the question of routine begins to pop up. The kids don’t want to eat at a set time, go to bed at a certain time, or follow a schedule during the day. They want to be free and do whatever they want. As parents, we all know that is not really an option, but should you ease up a little? My opinion is that you should alter your routine a little bit, but you DO need to keep some form of schedule in place.

After many summers, with our children home, we realized that the routine did need to be altered for the summer. On the other hand, without it, the kids would turn into raging beasts. I mean full on meltdowns and tween attitudes. Without it, they are over hungry, over tired, and don’t know what comes next.

Have you noticed that when you want to prepare your child for something, you tell them in advance. This is what a routine does. It tells kids what comes next. For example, it’s nighttime so we are going to bathe, brush teeth, read a book, and go to sleep. After doing that enough times, they know the routine and when old enough, they can start to do it themselves. Fostering independence and responsibility.

Altering the Routine

boy and girl eating ice cream
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

So, what alterations are best to make? Well really that all depends on your family and your kids. First, you have to ask yourself if you can realistically alter the morning routing, afternoon routine, or evening routine. Sometimes it is just not possible. Then there are obvious things that you cannot cut out, like brushing your teeth or eating. Here are some great alterations to think about.

  • Let them go to bed slightly later than normal but still have a bedtime.
  • Let them wake up later than normal but still in the morning (yes this is an issue as they get older).
  • Give them a little more time in their jammies. Who doesn’t like to be comfy?
  • Eat dinner a little later to give them more daylight playing time and have some interactive dinner nights.
  • Allow them to eat in alternate places, outside of the dinner table. Outside is always a great option and picnics are an added bonus.
  • Allow them to play with friends later or more than normal, if the other parent agrees.
  • Add in a special snack or dessert time where they can have a treat. Popsicles are a great treat in the summer!
  • Allow a little extra screentime in their day or incorporate some family movie nights.
  • Add in some “messy” time. Like painting, bubbles, sand, or the dreaded slime.
  • Don’t cut out reading time, but maybe you can alter the books they are reading. Incorporating something a little more fun or they can help you pick some new books.
  • Work pool time into the schedule. It helps them exert energy and sleep!
  • Try adding regular exercise, like morning yoga or an evening walk to keep everyone moving.
  • Ease up on the chore charts. Don’t cut them out, but you can alter them or remove something.
  • Be sure to get outside. There are so many benefits to getting outside daily. Outdoor activities like fishing, camping, and nature walks are great.
  • Now that they are home, have them help you create the grocery list and do the weekly grocery shopping.
  • Whether it is vacations, staycations, or local fun days, make sure to enjoy family time together. Schedule it and stick to it.

TIP: If you have a child that naps, and you are not trying to get rid of them, be sure to stick to a regular nap schedule. Kids who nap, need a schedule, and if you alter that routine, you usually end up paying for it later. We found out the hard way.

Most of all, enjoy your summer together. Most times it is not a break for us parents, but be sure to make the memories, take the pictures, and enjoy the moments. After all, you only get so many summers with them under your wing.

-Kristy M., Mommy to Many

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