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Summer is quickly approaching we have three weeks of school left and I am so happy about that!  I love Summer, I love the warmer weather, I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for awhile, I don't mind the heat.  What I most enjoy about summer is spending time with my kids. Summer gives me a greater opportunity to enjoy them, we are not rushed with school, homework, and other activities.  

Here are some tips to plan ahead and have a successful, stress free Summer break!

Schedule | Structure
To have a more enjoyable summer I have realized it still needs some structure. Kids thrive on structure.  There will not be as much stress and wondering what to do if you have a summer plan in place.  The great thing about a summer plan is you can be more flexible with this plan.  I find though with a plan in place, my kids don't fight as much, complain as much and if they know the plan I don't have to answer "what are we doing" 100 times.
Make a List | Summer Goals
Make a summer bucket list with your kids!  Summer always seems to go by so fast, if you don't plan it out and just keep that list of what you would like to do in your head, you will come to the end of summer and think only of the things you did not accomplish.  If you make a list and check it off, you will see all that you did accomplish!

This would be a fun thing to do at the dinner table. Everyone can participate and write your list, it can be something big like a trip or as simple as chalk art on the trampoline.

Here is a FREE Printable I made for our family, print and plan!  Summer Bucket List Printable
Read and Practice Math | Make it Fun
I'm all for planning FUN things, but also keep in mind educational things.  We want to keep are kids minds sharp during summer, so they adjust easily back into school when summer is over.  Many libraries offer summer reading programs with rewards. Pizza Hut has a great site, with free downloads of summer printable's, tracking calendars, and book activities.  So the work is already done for you, you just need to print it and post it.  Book It Summer Reading Printables
A really great tool to stay up on math that I have used before is a website called TenMarks, unfortunately they no longer off their summer math program.  However you can still create a free Teacher account.  You can elect "other" or "Homeschool" for the school after noting Zip Code www.tenmarks.com/signup.  As the "teacher", the parent would be administering assignments for the child to complete.  While there are hints and videos in the platform, this is meant to supplement classroom efforts and not provide primary instruction of material.  
Discuss Expectations | Daily to Do List 
I know it is easy during summer to stay up later and sleep in, but if you discuss this as a family beforehand than everyone is on the same page and can contribute to having a fun, successful summer break and know what is expected of them.  With younger kids in my house, we don’t stay up super late during summer, they pretty much stick to their same bed time routine.  They have a few days in the week where instead of being in bed by 8:30 they are in bed at 9 which thankfully at their young age they are super excited about, but you should have a family plan to help both the nights and mornings go easier for you.  Discuss, things like screen time (computer, tablets, tv). Discuss chores like making their bed each morning and helping with breakfast, emptying the dishwasher, etc. what else do you want them to do before they have screen time or go to a friends house.

Here is a FREE Printable I made for our family!  Summer Daily To Do List
 
Menu Plan
If you stay home all day with your children, a great idea is to write out a menu plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I already menu plan our dinners, but do not typically menu plan the other two meals, but with summer break, I will menu plan all meals.  It makes it easier on me to keep a variety of meals as well as on the kids so they know what they are eating.  It also helps keep snacking to a minimum, I don’t know about your house but my boys love to snack, and if I let them they will snack all day.  Write out, Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack, and Dinner so they don’t fill up on snacks throughout the day and end up skimping on dinner.  
Be sure to look up your local Summer Meal Service Sites they provide parents and referral agencies with a list of locations where children may receive free nutritious meals during school vacation and off-track periods.
 
Summer on a Budget
Summer Bucket List’s don’t have to be grand and expensive.  You can visit new parks in your local town, take swim lessons, camp out in your backyard, get your kids involved in cooking with you and learning new things that with busier schedules you don’t always make the time to show them.  I will have a post next week with a list of free and inexpensive things to do this Summer.

Quality Time
It really is about quality time together.  I find that kids ultimately want time with you, even if it is just hanging out in the backyard with them, watching them ride their bikes, or jump on the trampoline and show you their new moves.  I also have observed when you have a plan even if the plan is to build a fort in the living room and have a backyard picnic, it will cut down on the dreaded words “I’m bored”, “There is nothing to do”, etc.  I find with my boys there are less fights and grumbling when they don’t enter that bored stage and again it does not have to be big expensive things to do all summer, but variety.  
Plan your Week 
Last year for our Monday through Friday schedule, we had a day we went to our local water-park, we had a day we went to the movie theater for the Summer Kids Movie Program, we had a day we visited the library, a day we visited a new park and then a day scheduled to stay home.  Then we made adjustments as needed, if we had a friend or cousin spending the day with us or any other plans that we made, but having a basic plan of attack for your week, keeps the entire family on the same page, can be less stressful and makes room to create memories together instead of wondering where the summer went.  
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