How to Create a Sane Summer Schedule for Kids

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You’ve got a school year routine that helps keep all the plates spinning, but things can go off the rails if you don’t have some kind of summer routine. While we love letting kids play and enjoy the summer, we also know that a summer schedule for kids can give structure to your summer break and keep everyone on an even keel.

girl in swimsuit playing on rainbow splash pad in the sunshine.

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Maybe the last year of school was busier than you ever want your life to be. Maybe you’re exhausted now that summer has rolled around. Maybe you don’t want to think about the S-word until fall rolls around again. 

I was talking about schedules… c’mon!

But I know from experience that having a loose summer schedule for kids is helpful for them — and their moms, too! Summer planning can be really fun and give you a little bit of structure.

With a little bit of a routine to your summer months, you’ll be able to fit in the epic summer bucket list items you have scheduled as well as allow for plenty of loosey-goosey free time.

I love loosey-goosey.

Why a Weekly Summer Schedule for Kids

Not convinced that a summer schedule could help you? As a mom of six kids born in less than 12 years, I know how to control chaos… a little. Let me explain the beauty of a summer schedule for kids.

It’s grounding. When we have routine and repetition, we increase our chances of personal peace and increased health benefits, like reduced stress levels and better sleep. Having a summer schedule for kids, even a loose routine of summer activities, can be beneficial for your whole family.

It helps manage expectations. If you have a loose block schedule for your summer, your kids know what to expect. A predictable routine allows them time to adjust their expectations and can reduce temper tantrums or arguments.

It reduces decision fatigue. I’m an old mom — my oldest is 27! — so I still remember the days when unstructured play time was the default. However, I’ve noticed that young moms are practically killing themselves to entertain their kids and keep things new and exciting. A loose schedule can give structure without wearing you out.

Alrighty? On Team Summer Schedule now? Let’s go!

collage of summer planning printable on picnic table background.

How to Plan a Summer Schedule for Kids

Follow these steps to planning a sane and workable summer schedule for kids:

Generate ideas together. Brainstorm a list of activities your kids want to do this summer as well as the different activities you want them to participate in. These may overlap or they may not. Discussion may be necessary to come to a common ground.

Print out our printable summer schedule worksheet. (Get instant access to our printable library when you subscribe to our free newsletter.)

Determine routines. A simple schedule includes routines for morning, afternoon, and evening. This may vary based on the days of the week or which weeks aren’t already scheduled with summer camp, VBS, and other summer educational activities.

Your summer days routine may also vary based on the ages of your kids. Younger kids will need more options and more specific activities while older kids can enjoy a more flexible summer schedule.

In my experience, it is helpful to include outdoor activities like a visit to the splash pad in the morning routine first thing before the day gets too hot while planning reading hour or other quiet time activities in the hot afternoon during the baby’s nap time.

The evening routine might include a family movie night or a Jammie run to the ice cream shop. You might put the baby to bed at the regular time and allow older kids the freedom to stay up late, playing a game or lying in the backyard looking at the stars.

Be sure to include fun things to do! 

feet of mom and kids on the bed with a book across their laps.

Activities and Routine Ideas 

Consider these ideas to include in your summer schedule for kids:

  • weekly trips for library, outings, and errands
  • daily or weekly trips to the pool
  • visits to the water park or trampoline park (see if they have a summer pass!)
  • outdoor play including water balloons, sidewalk chalk, or bubbles
  • day trips to the science center or local museum
  • daily anchors for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • daily family read-aloud or summer reading hour
  • pockets of time for Mom to work or rest
  • weekly and daily household chores for everyone
  • movie nights with friends and family

Tips for success

Keep things loose. Unless you’re all high power executives at your house, a minute-by-minute daily schedule may not be conducive to the unexpected things that happen during family life. Allow for lazy days and spontaneous fun activities as well as minor emergencies. If you set up too rigid a daily summer schedule, someone will be disappointed.

Establish a summer-friendly bedtime routine. Depending on when it gets dark at your house, regular bedtime hours may feel way too strict for the summer months. Think about a bedtime routine as a rhythm of things to do (bath, story, ticklefest) rather than a specific time slot in the evening. Allow for star gazing or a Jammie run for ice cream during your kids’ limited summer vacation years. This might necessitate a change to the sleep schedule, adjusting to a more consistent wake-up time later in the summer as school days approach.

Respect your own screen time rule. Unplugging will be good for you as well as your kids. There’s so much noise in the online world. As you limit your kids’ screen usage, consider limiting your own. Bust out the board games, create a book list, or work on a household project while your kids do the same.

Make time for household chores. All play and no cleaning day makes for a wrecked house and an exhausted mom. Include chores for your kids in the daily routine so that they learn to participate in the workings of the household. Kids can clean bathrooms — and kids can do laundry. There’s no reason that any mom should do it all. Get help with the housework this summer.

girl in laundry room holding a bottle of detergent.

More Summer Fun

What works for you?

Leave a comment below and let us know what works for you.

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