This month’s Corner is written by Sarah, my oldest daughter. Sarah grew up in a homeschooling family, has helped countless homeschooling moms, and observes her homeschooling sisters-in-law. She has a wealth of practical homeschool experience to offer. Sarah graduated from our homeschool in 2000 and loves to serve in the Titus2 ministry. Teri
Summer is here, well, not officially according to the calendar, but school is out, and the temperatures are heating up, so it feels like summer. I want to share some tips from our family’s personal experiences that could help make your summer more productive. I remember looking forward to our summer homeschool break and the variety in activity that it afforded us. We were always excited about what Mom had in store for those summer months.
Plan a Summer Schedule
Plan a summer schedule! “Why would I do that?” you might ask. “Isn’t summer meant to be free time without any structure?” Have you noticed how your children act without a guideline for their day? Don’t they seem to get in trouble, say they’re bored, or fight with their siblings? Having a schedule will alleviate that, give them purpose, and you peace. If you have teenage children, let them have input into their schedules and how they’d like their day set up. I enjoyed plotting my schedule. Be creative.
Change out chores and train the children in new ones since you have more time to do that. Wouldn’t you love to move through summer without having to wince every time you walk by the laundry room? With a schedule, you’ll keep up with a clean house and folded laundry and a whole lot more! A side benefit will be pleasing your husband. What guy likes to come home to an unkempt house with bickering children and a crying wife?
Back to the schedule. Maybe you have a child who has a special interest or talent in an area like art, writing, handyman work, or sewing. Scheduling in an hour a day for them to devote to that will help both of you to see if it’s something they want to keep pursuing during the school year.
Write Out a List of Projects You’d Like to Accomplish
Do you have dreams of getting to those projects that bug you, but you just don’t have time for? Write out a list of those projects, and make it your summer goal. Maybe your husband has mentioned several things he’d like to see you do, and you’ve never made it happen (i.e: the kids’ winter boots that are stacked up in the garage doorway, the front flower bed needs weeding). Now is the time. Write those on your list, and you’ll have a very happy husband when they’re done!
My mom loved summer because it afforded her opportunities to do things she normally didn’t have time for such as putting photos in albums, deep cleaning the refrigerator, polishing cabinets, and a host of other things. How did she manage to do that with little ones underfoot? At that point, I was in my teens, and she scheduled me to take the five younger ones on a walk right after breakfast and then to play with them outside. That gave her an hour to do things on her list, and an hour a day netted her a mostly-completed list by the end of summer (I think sometimes her lists exceeded her time!). If you don’t have a child old enough to watch the others, consider having them spend that time in a safe environment like their room with special toys or books.
Schedule Some School
Even if you’re one of those who would prefer summer to be kept without school, consider how scheduling 1-2 hours a day could help you. For us, if we did some school, it kept our skills current in weak or hard subjects, instead of trying to jump back in with cold feet in the fall. It also allowed us to have a more relaxed schedule in the school year itself and even time off for a family vacation in September when places weren’t crowded. School each day kept us occupied in the hotter parts of the day, when being outside playing wasn’t much of an option.
Spend Dedicated One on One Time with Your Children
What better use of your summer hours than to spend them with your children? Regardless of their age (toddler to teen!), plan a regular time at least once a week to spend one on one. Consider letting them pick what they want to do. Your little boys might want you to build a Lego fort, and you might find you’re better at it than you thought. Or, your little girl might love for you to play dolls. When was the last time you played dolls?! Perhaps your teenage girl would like to bake something or go shopping (in the evening when your husband is home and can watch the others). I heard my sister-in-law was doing one on one time with her girls this summer, and Friday night they were happily talking about what Mommy did with them that week.
Make It Great
Whether it’s a spontaneous trip to the zoo, a picnic at the park, hiking at a state park, an overnight camping trip when Dad’s home, or simply making sugar cookies and decorating them together, use summer as a time to make the best memories possible. Remember, your schedule is your tool. So use it when you can, and on those days when you go to the zoo or do some other outing, don’t worry, and have peace knowing you’ll get back on track the next day.
Instead of allowing the summer to overtake you with stressful times, be determined to make it your most productive summer yet. The result? Happy kids + productivity + a pleased husband = a joyful YOU.