It wasn't long ago that summer break began in all its glory.
But, on occasion, those gloriously long summer days may seem a little too long. Keeping the peace in the house - whether between siblings or just your own peace of mind - may seem a little harder to maintain as the weeks go by.
As I anticipate that situation here at times, I try to remember a few key ideas that usually help our summer flow a bit more smoothly.
1. Expect them to entertain themselves
This looks different at each age, but you can begin this when your children are very little by giving them brief periods of time alone to play in their crib or pack-n-play. For us, this transitioned into nap/quiet time every afternoon when they became toddlers and preschoolers. Whether you use books or specific toys that are played with only at that time, they can learn to keep themselves occupied. It's actually a great skill for them to master! In our house these days, after lunch is typically a quiet time where each of us read or do something alone.
2. Mix some work in with their fun
I started a summer learning program years ago because I instinctively knew that hours upon of hours of free time would lead to some "bored" and disgruntled children. I also wanted to teach them to use their time productively. It doesn't all have to be educational work, either - having daily or weekly chores around the house certainly counts, too - and even better if there's a mix of indoor and outdoor responsibilities. I have my girls doing all their own laundry this summer, and it has been a huge help! I don't know that I'll ever want to take that chore back again.
3. Be willing to give up my "personal" time to spend time with them
I'd be pretty happy staying home most of the time, but I know that, at the ages my daughters are, they need chances to get out and do things more often. This summer I decided that each week that we're home (and don't have too many obligations), I'd try to plan an activity with them. The first week, we took a picnic lunch downtown. Last week, we explored a local park and museum that we'd never visited before. Obviously, spending time with our children doesn't have to involve leaving the house. Instead of sitting down in a chair with my book, I can join my girls in a game or we can bake a treat for the family.