This is it. The kids are out of school! It’s time for their summer activities! Camps, enrichment classes, summer school… it’s a lot. This is the last summer we have together before they both start full days at school. I love having my little ones home, and them having a break from school-life. I also love my sanity, and my little ones aren’t going to camp and I feared I may lose my mind having them home 24/7 for the two months.
Since I’m not spending $600/week to put two kids through camp for the summer, when I am available for free, we are having summer camp at home! (The only cost is my aforementioned sanity.)
I run my business from home so having both children home full time is going to be a game changer with regard to my time management. (read: I’ll get zero done this summer and I’m OK with it.)
My kids are 5 and 7. A rising kindergartener and 2nd grader. Close enough in age to enjoy similar activities, thankfully. Here’s how we planned our Summer Camp at Home and a few tips to help you plan yours.
How to Plan Your Summer Camp At Home
Decide how you want your summer to look
Duh, right? I know, I know. But you really have to sit down and decide what your daily life is going to be. I’m not here for the overly scheduled life, but I know some moms thrive on that. Think about what is realistic for you, your patience level, your finances, etc.
Consider what YOUR kids like
Another duh. But I had to learn this get my kids summer planned out well. They are simpler than I think sometimes. I could have days set up with a million bells and whistles when I realize if we just go to my mom’s pool for a few hours, then eat, do story-time and watch a movie together they’ll be happy as clams.
Block out your time
Time Blocking is a great productivity/planning tool for daily life, but also great for planning summer camp at home because it keeps the kids aware of what comes next. My son should’ve been a virgo because he is a time-watching taskmaster and will keep us on track.
Our Summer Camp At Home Set Up
The kids and I worked together to put our plan together…(but mommy led the show of course). I wanted a structure to our day, without feeling trapped by it, or too over-scheduled. We are including:
1. School time
My kids are weird. They love worksheets. I got a workbook for each of them to complete for the summer and Kaya literally squealed in excitement. In addition to the workbooks, our library visits will result in one “nonfiction” book on a topic they’re interested in.
2. Water time
Back in my day, we went outside and jumped in the sprinklers at my grandma’s house or she’d chase us with the hose. My lucky littles will be swimming in grandma’s pool each day. They’ll never know the sprinkler jumping fun. We’re teaching them how to snorkel though, so that’ll be fun. Considering getting them this or something similar for the house too.
3. Outdoor play
This will mostly be the kids riding their bikes up and down the street, running around in our backyard, feeding fish and “fishing” in our pond, and short visits to the nearby playground. If you have a 9-11 year old check out Every Kid in a Park
4. Field trips
I’ll be honest when I tell you the main “field trip” is going to be the local library most weeks. We will be doing Chuck E Cheese since they have a reading initiative and are giving free play. And we are heading to the movies for Toy Story 4 and Secret Life of Pets 2. Check your local bowling lanes for Kids Bowl Free and your local theater for Discount Summer Movies for kids.
5. Screen time
This is what the kids will do first each day. Both kids have their devices, and our deal is that Rohan has to make cocoa and toast or waffles for he and his sister, they both must get dressed, brush teeth and then they can use their laptops between the time they wake up, and the time I “wake up.” Real talk: They are never more silent and well behaved than when they’re trying not to wake mommy up and end their screen time. (I use the silent time for journaling or listening to a guided meditation so we ALL win!)
6. Free play (indoor)
Everything else (and majority of the day) is our usual play time. Whether the kids are doing arts and crafts, building, playing house/school, or using their magic kits or doing some random game they make up on their own.
Tips for Summer Camp at Home Success
Be flexible and have backup plans
I mean. This is a given, I know. These kids moods are fickle, the rain can wash away the best of plans, and you never know when allergies or a summer cold can kill the vibe. It’s good to play fast and loose with the “summer camp” plans and have alternatives just in case. But you’re a smart mama, you already know this.
Include kids’ input
I get so much less pushback when my kids think what we are doing is their idea. I’m sure your kids are the same. (They’re like tiny spouses…let them think they’re running the show and they’re happy!)
This is a biggie. When I get to scheduling for myself I sometimes forget to add in downtime, food breaks, etc. So I have to be mindful to do it when scheduling for the whole family or the kids. When we have the downtime between activities it lets there be a natural exhale, and sometimes a new activity will naturally develop that makes the day even better. In our scheduled break time yesterday the kids found some old magnifying glasses and spent hours as detectives. (apparently I was the killer and under my bed were many, many clues.)
This tip is more for me than for you. But if you’re an anxious virgo mommy like me, it’s for you too. Chill out! Relax. Everything is going to be okay! Even if you don’t get to whatever fun activity you had planned. Even if the kids throw a tantrum over something ridiculous. No matter what. They’re going to have a great summer with you and you will have a great summer with them. (until you lose your mind and pray for school to start asap)
I hope these tips help you create a summer your whole family enjoys…and I hope you maintain your sanity as well. Happy Summer Vacation!!