Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summertime Kids-How Scheduling Can Stop The Madness!

I have four children, ages 6,5,3&16 months. And a baby due in about 4 weeks (yay!). The 3 older boys have been at day camp for the last 3 weeks, but today is the last day. They will ALL be home, with me, until school begins again September 1. (*Gulp!) They will ALL be home/out of school when the baby is born and for a few weeks after that. What am I going to do with them?

I am a big fan of homeschooling. I did it for one year of preschool, and am taking a break from it until they get a little bit older; they need to learn Hebrew which I believe can best be done by immersing them at school, and I do not feel I can homeschool when so many of them are so young. So, my plan (at the moment) is to begin homeschooling the oldest after first grade and add a child each year after that.

The reason I bring up homeschooling is that one of the biggest challenges of homeschooling is: how to get schooling AND housework AND playing AND (fill in the blank) done without everyone killing each other?

I find a similar challenge during vacation time. My boys love to play together, and are good at finding things to do. But after 2 days off or so, I find that there is not only an increase in bickering and injuries, but also they are more likely to find things to do that...ahem...I don't approve of. While free time and "boredom" can stimulate creativity, I find that lack of boundaries/expectation/direction leads to less than desirable behavior.

What to do? Just as a homeschooling family must do, you schedule. Schedule, schedule. I know some of you are thinking that it doesn't sound like much fun for them, that you want them to be able to relax and enjoy themselves, and think of their own activities. I'm not suggsting an absence of free time. Instead, I'm suggesting that even free time is scheduled.

Most of the help in scheduling I learned from Teri Maxwell, in her book Managers Of Their Homes. It was the only guide I found for step by step help in creating a schedule for a large family that had time slots for all that was necessary.

Some of my favorite tips are:

  • Schedule play periods for 2 siblings together. They strengthen their relationships and get along better than they do when there are 3 or more.
  • Schedule meal helpers
  • Schedule one on one time with Mom or Dad
  • Schedule playtime alone; every child should learn to entertain himself
  • Choose activities for different days of the week so that they rotate and the children don't get bored. Example: Monday fingerpaint, Tuesday playdough,Wednesday blocks, etc.

Kids love dependable routine. They are much more likely to go along with the program if you already know what the program will be. And I really think it's the only way to stay calm in the eye of the vacation storm.

I've tried it the other way during vacation time. I didn't like it much. This time...I'm ready.

What are you doing with your little ones during summer vacation?


  1. Very good tips! I'm sure the next few months will go more smoothly this way. Hang in there, it won't be like this for long.

  2. I have a bigger spread between my children...14, 11, 3, 2, and one due next week (yippee!) I started homeschooling my big girls five years ago and really struggled to handle everything as the little ones came along until I came across Managers of Their Homes. I, too, found it extremely helpful!

    Our summer has run pretty smoothly. We modified our schedule to do "light" homeschool until the baby comes, then we'll take 4-6 weeks off (depending on how Mommy is feeling). In the meantime, we keep a routine that balances free time (individual, pairs and group) and chores. The children love it because they know what's expected of them and I love it because no one gets bored (and the housework gets done!)

  3. Congratulations on your upcoming arrival! It must be great to have big girls to help with the baby...My oldest is a 6 year old boy. Not the same thing.

    Best Wishes

  4. I've been barely keeping my head above the water this summer. I know for a fact that if I only had a schedule my 4 boys & 1 girl would not be chewing me up and spitting me out each day of this exhausting respite from school. Thanks for this reminder! :)


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