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10 Tips for a Good Summer

June 3, 2021

This time of year, the summer conversation among friends is what are you and the kids going to do all summer? Great question! And honestly, a little intimidating to me. What am I going to do all summer with the kids?!?

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

There are, of course, some challenges to think through. How do I facilitate a summer that isn’t all about screens? How do I balance structure with spontaneity? How do I keep my own sanity and resist the need to create an Instagram worthy summer?

The answer to most of those questions rests in our schedule, though I think of it more as a rhythm because there’s flexibility and room for spontaneity for sure. Not every day is identical so we start most mornings talking through and sorting out our schedule depending on what’s going on that day.

Our Rhythm

6 a.m. mine and Ben’s rise and shine time (coffee, please)

7 a.m. typical kid wake-up time + breakfast

8 a.m. exploration time

9 a.m. free time

10 a.m. out and about

12 p.m. lunch & chores

1 p.m. R&R

2 p.m. screen time

3:30/4 free time

5 p.m. dinner prep

6 p.m. family time

7 p.m. family time

8 p.m. family time

9 p.m. typical bed time for kids


I tend to be pretty DIY for breakfast—cereal, eggs (two of my kiddos can make these themselves), toast, yogurt, etc. Occasionally I’ll cook something but that’s usually only on the weekends. Over the years I’ve found I prefer slow mornings that involve coffee and minimal cooking, so that’s what we do.

Exploration Time

This is what I’m calling our learning hour, an idea my sister-in-law Sarah shared with me from her summer schedule. So, we sit down at our dining room table (which is the center of our home and has beautiful natural light) and I let the kids explore any idea or skill they want. Our eight year old is learning to type for example. He also had the fun idea today to print off some color-by-number pictures, which we all did. I help them as needed and usually then spend the time reading or journaling (or any other creative activity I want). Today my kids actually spent an hour and a half exploring, which was great because we didn’t have any other plans.

Out and About

If we’re going to leave the house, I like to do it before lunch (better attitudes, can eat lunch at home, less hot). Some days we go to the library or run errands or go hang out at a friend’s pool or visit the zoo or go to the park with a friend. I don’t feel the pressure to go out every day but it is a nice way to break up the weeks and days of summer time.

Lunch & Chores

I like to keep lunch simple: pb&j, leftovers, fruit/cheese/veggie tray, etc. I usually don’t preplan but just make sure that in my weekly grocery order, I have lunch essentials. I also like pre-packaged, convenience food (like cheese sticks, pepperoni, chips/crackers, fruit squeezies, etc..) so that if we get a last minute invite out and it’ll be over lunch, I can quickly throw a lunch together to take with us. If we’re home, we also use lunch time for our daily chores (we’re using Dave Ramsey’s commission system to teach our kids about earning, saving, and giving money), which includes daily straightening and cleaning as well as taking care of our chickens since they’ll be selling the eggs to learn entrepreneurial skills.


This is the one element of our home schedule that has always been consistent. What started out as nap time when they were babies and toddlers, has morphed into Rest & Relaxation time. During this hour, everyone goes to their own space, and as long as they are quiet, can spend the time however they want (except no technology because we don’t allow that on their own or in their rooms). Two of my kids will sometimes still nap during this time (me too occasionally!) but not always. Reading, coloring, playing with cars or stuffed animals—doesn’t matter. But if they want to have tech time, they have to cooperate with R&R.


Our family takes a fairly moderate view on screens—they can be great fun and I’m okay with a couple hours a day of YouTube Kids videos or video games. But I don’t want my kids zoning out all day to them. Neither do I want to answer the same question—Can we have tech time?— every day, times infinity. So, generally, we have a consistent, set time for it. For us, that’s usually 2 p.m. (or after everyone has emerged from R&R time).


I’m no gourmet cook but neither can I afford to eat out every night (sigh). But, one of my favorite meal planning inspirations is SkinnyTaste – her recipes are healthy and delicious plus she includes a meal calendar, recipes with easy instructions, and a printable grocery list. Recently I made her grilled steak fajitas and cannot rave enough about how amazing they were.

Family Time

We have two dogs and a few chickens and endless projects around the house to do, so evenings are usually spent in our backyard. During the summer we also do frequent family movie nights or sometimes outings for Pelican Snoballs (our favorite summer treat). Again, this is nothing I preplan—just try to have good quality time together.

Working from Home + Trips

Every day I have 2-3 hours of editing to complete and I’m also in the process of becoming a certified journal facilitator (which involves self-paced, at-home coursework). Many mornings I’ll use the first two hours of our day to edit before my husband leaves for work just so I have it off my plate for the day. Though, if that doesn’t happen, I can use R&R or the kids’ screen time to edit as well. I also like to work out at some point during the day; the breakfast hour is usually a good time, but that time floats around a bit depending on the day.

We have three trips planned this summer (two just me and the kids; the last one Ben gets to join!!)—a road trip with my mom to visit my grandmother in Indiana, a week in Houston to visit my dad and Robbie (I scored a ridiculously cheap deal on plane tickets through Allegiant–$380 for 4 round-trip tix), and then a few days beachside in Myrtle Beach, SC. Between just the normal day-to-day at home and then our trips, I’m pretty excited for our 2021 Summer!

How about you? What are your summer plans?

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