A lot of stay-at-home-moms get stressed as they see summer approaching. All they see is a blank calendar and panic thinking, “How in the world am I going to entertain my children for three months?!?” Then they do their best to fill that calendar up.

The number one mistake I believe we make is thinking we must entertain our children. We are doing a severe disservice to our children by constantly trying to placate their boredom.

Here are my tips to having a fun summer without the stress:

1- Write Out Your Routine– When your kids are in school or a Mother’s Day Out program, they get used to what comes next because there is a routine to their days.  Having a routine will help your kids transition to each activity and will help you to carve out time for yourself. Our routine is pretty simple.  It follows a rhythm of Eat, Activity, Rest. (Any Baby Whisperer fans out there? This works for older children too.)

We start out our days with morning chores as I cook breakfast.  Then the kids play, have school review work (as a former teacher I know the perils of regression during summer time), and clean up before lunch.  The afternoon is rest time, snacks, play, and clean up before Daddy comes home. (A part of not complicating my summer, I refused to make pretty charts and Pinterest perfect calendars.)


On the days we go out, we just hop right into our routine wherever it feels natural.  Remember it is a routine not a schedule!

2- Make Lists of Pre-Approved Activities– We made a list of things the kids can choose to do during their play time and rest times.  This is helpful because they start in with “I am bored!” they now have a self-generated list of mom-approved ideas to keep them busy. We will add to these list as we have more ideas. IMG_2572

Also we listed out their chores and school work that I expect them to do, but using my Jedi-mind tricks  they came up with it. 🙂  It went something like this.

Me: “Chores.  Hum.  What things do you think you guys could help me with.”

Child #1: “I fold clothes.

Child #2: “I can put shoes away.”

Those already are their chores, but they made the list so they take ownership. 🙂

By the way mommas, your children are more capable than you think!  It is so good for them to contribute to the family by doing their chores.  At our house, we haven’t started an allowance.  It is just expected because they are all members of our family.

Three-Year-Old Helping with the Laudry

Three-Year-Old Helping with the Laundry


Summer is a great time to teach new chores.  My daughter used to help with the laundry.  She now has been promoted to other things while brother helps with laundry.

Summer is a great time to teach new chores. My daughter used to help with the laundry. She now has been promoted to other things while brother helps with laundry.


Hop over here for more info on Summer Reading Challenge and Chore Chart development.

3-Make A Bucket List– These are the big fun things that you will do throughout the summer. You know the things that you do each summer that the kids remember and expect but let’s be realistic…if you did these things everyday you are going to be exhausted!  Spread these out!

Each summer we have selected a theme.  One year it was Not Bummer Summer (Judy Moody Style).  The next year it was 104 Days of Summer Vacation (Phinesas and Ferb Style).  This year it is Olaf’s Summer Fun (Frozen Style).

We have the list visible so the kids can reflect on what we have done and will do.

Again, I don’t want to spend hours of my summer vacation making a beautiful chart.  We go get a big poster board and have fun creating our themed bucket list together.

This was designed to be like Judy Moody's Not Bummer Summer board game.

This was designed to be like Judy Moody’s Not Bummer Summer board game.

104 Days of Summer Vacation Treasure Map

104 Days of Summer Vacation Treasure Map

Here are a list of things that have made our list:

  • Ride bikes
  • Go on a hike
  • Swim Lessons
  • Visit a Zoo or Safari
  • Museum
  • Go cruisin’ in the evening with the windows down and the music up
  • Ride a roller coaster
  • Find a festival
  • Baseball game (find bigfoot)
  • Tea Party
  • Drive-in movie
  • Bumper boats
  • Miniature golf
  • Breakfast food for dinner
  • Swim in the lake
  • Ride a Jet ski
  • Enjoy a bouncy house
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Carnival or amusement park
  • Tie-dye T-Shirts
  • Snow cones
  • Plant a flower
  • Indoor campout
  • Water park
  • Popcorn/movie night/stay up ’til “midnight”
  • Sleep in the next day :)
  • Splash pad
  • Girl’s day out (take baby brother to a babysitter)
  • Special academic project (This summer we got an ant farm.)

Bottom line is pace yourself!  If your kids know what to expect, they will function better (and so will you!).

I would love to learn from your expertise! What would you add to this list?

Pin for later:summerroutine







11 comments on “Don’t Complicate Summer: 3 Tips to Get into a Summer Routine

  1. Jamie Taylor

    Love this! Thank you for sharing 🙂 I was getting a little bit overwhelmed seeing all the other mom’s awesomely decorated perfectly written bucket lists thinking there is no way with my husband’s schedule that we could fit all that in. I have many more doable ideas that stemmed from reading your ideas!!!! Sometimes it helps to just simplify! Thank you so much!

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Life is too short! So glad this post has been helpful. Maybe coming to Arkansas for a visit could be added to your bucket list. 🙂 It is has been way too long!

  2. Jamie (@JamiesThots)

    I don’t have kids but if I did, I would totally do this! I should probably do my own fur kid version of a routine but that’s mostly for mom not them!

  3. PC Tuesday

    Love that you got the kids involved in the planning. One year I did a study on the Impressionists with my kids. We had lots of fun, and some not too fun, art activities. A couple of years ago, we took 2 weeks for home learning. The girls had a week of meal planning, shopping with a budget, packing Dad’s lunch and preparing meals (and cleaning up afterward). While one was in the kitchen the other was taking care of household chores–laundry, scrubbing toilets, mopping, vacuuming, etc. Then they switched. It was a fabulous learning experience for all of us. We were exhausted!

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