Getting Your Kids Summer Schedules Buttoned Up

Parents, chances are your children have already begun their annual countdown to the last day of school.

For working parents (and who doesn’t count as a working parent!?), juggling summer schedules can be a nightmare. With no school to fill their days, it’s up to you to figure out how to keep them busy and out of trouble. This can be a stressful addition to an already full schedule. Before things get out of hand, take a few minutes with your family to get summer schedules buttoned up.

Alicia on ‘Getting In Synch’

‘Staples ran a ‘Back to School’ TV commercial a few years ago that was a huge hit. In the spot, parents joyously pushed shopping carts up and down the aisles to the tune ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ by Eddie Pola and George Wyle. Parents everywhere could relate to and giggle at the characters’ celebration of the return to regular school schedules. A little preparation will go a long way to minimizing scheduling headaches. The most effective thing busy parents can do in this regard is to set aside time to get the entire family in synch for the upcoming changes.’

Sarah on ‘The End Goal’

‘It’s important to keep in mind that you’re shooting for a flexible summer schedule framework, not a ‘perfect,’ locked-down schedule with no room for ‘free-form’ moments. Perfect schedules don’t stand the test of time because real life rarely follows the book. So rather than worry about mapping out every minute of your children’s days, first broadly block and tackle the basics like daycare, camps and flex-time scheduling requirements. Once you’ve done that, you can focus as a family on layering in fun summer activities.’

Here are three easy steps that will help you make a smooth transition from regimented school schedules to the days of summer.

#1: Call a Summer Summit
When things are a little bit less regimented, the need for communication is heightened. So once you have figured out the foundational elements of summer schedules, call a family summit to discuss summer dreams and put together a realistic plan that everybody can get excited about and buy into. The summit should cover two key areas: (1) fun summer activities — big and small and (2) ways the whole family can chip in to help make everyday chores like dinnertime less stressful for mom and dad.

#2: Set Up a Buddy System
Your friends are probably in the same boat you are, so why not band together and set up a buddy system that lets you support each other over the summer? Connect with two other good friends who have children of the same age and pick three ‘swap’ days (one for June, one for July and one for August). On swap days, one ‘buddy’ will take all of the kids to do something fun for the day, giving the other two a much needed break. Also set up an email loop that makes it easy to reach out to each other for help with things like carpooling, babysitting and dinner ideas.

#3: Photocopy Schedules
Because your kids are likely to be participating in lots of activities like swim team and soccer, you’ll need to keep activity schedules handy. Put together a master packet of all of the different activity schedules and make at least four photocopies. Leave one copy in your purse or briefcase, one in the car, give one to your partner, and put one in a central location like on a bulletin board in the kitchen. That way, anybody can easily check the list to see where they need to be on a given day/time.