How to Create a Summer Routine for Your Kids

mom and kids splashing in water

Remember the song “School’s out for Summer”? As a kid, I remember being so excited that the school year was over! Two months of freedom from teachers and books. As a teacher, I loved the idea of vacation and spending time with family, friends and traveling. However, as a parent, I needed to find a way to create a summer routine for my kids.

As a parent, summer is a totally different story. Summer presents a challenge when it comes to keeping my kids happy and entertained. My oldest daughter, who goes to private school, finished school almost two whole weeks before my other three. She was asking for things to do on Day 1 of her summer vacation.

While she was waiting on her siblings to finish school, she came to the Y with me and a couple of days and ran a ton of errands (because that’s all I do every day). She been looking for things to do and now that her siblings are home for the summer (with their work from home Daddy) they have been digging into all sorts of things, a creating a big mess along the way. All in efforts to not be “bored”. I tell them all the time, it’s good for them to be bored once in a while. But of course, that gets nothing but groans and whining. *More on that in a future piece* 

So how do you keep them from being super bored this summer? Camps are a great way to keep their brains going but let’s face it, who can afford to send their kid to camp for the whole summer? For those mamas like me who are trying to find a way to create some structure while school is out here are a few ideas for creating a summer routine for your kids.

Keep a similar bedtimeyoung girl sleeping with her stuffed duck

There will always be special times or events that will keep your kids up past their bedtime. Movies, vacation activities, visiting friends and family… The list goes on for summer fun and of course, we want to take full advantage of these special times. Our entire family will be driving over 40 hours this summer on a cross-country road trip. These kinds of trips are where memories are made. But our kids will be cranky and out of sorts because their sleeping patterns will be so messed up. Everyone, even adults, lose it when their sleeping patterns get disrupted. Short of those special times, do your best to keep a bedtime close to the same as the school year. It will keep them (and you) a lot happier and sane.

Give them a Summer checklist

This idea popped up on my FB feed about two years ago and last summer I printed it as a reminder to myself. These past few weeks, this little checklist and has given my kids a set of daily tasks to accomplish. These tasks include making their bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed, reading, making something, drawing and helping others. My husband actually put this list into a word document so we could change it slightly to meet our kids’ individual needs.

It not only keeps them busy, but it’s helping them cooperate with each other as they are all trying to gain electronics time at the end of the day. Every day when I come home, the list is laying on our kitchen island. I can see by their initials, what things have been working on and who’s been helping each other. Not only is this great for creating a summer routine but we can also use it when they go back to school. 

Keep their normal after-school activities rolling during summer routine

We all know it. Kid’s gymnastics, karate, and dance classes are all having a summer camp. All day long five days a week for a mere $2oo a week. That’s pretty steep and as much as they (and you) would love that, that’s a whole lot of $$$! But what about one week? Much more doable. This summer my son is going to one week of karate camp at the end of June. He is also going back to painting class for three days (which he did last year and LOVED) and a sports camp for four days. Whatever your kids love to do, let them keep doing that, if even in small doses.

If your kids need more structure try a summer schedule. My fellow writer Kim has a summer schedule for her own kids. It’s complete with theme weeks. Check it out. Or check out these Free Summer Activities that you and your kids will enjoy. 

How do you create a summer routine for your kids? Comment below!


Dawn Shreeve is an adoptive mother of four special needs kiddos; long-time educator, beach lover, and advocate of all things adoption. Dawn holds a BS in Psychology from Oral Roberts University and a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Texas. She currently serves as a Tinkergarten Leader in the South Shore area and is a Co-Founder of Seas The Connection, an organization who works to bring relaxing retreats to Adoptive and Foster moms. Dawn, her husband Michael and kids moved to the Tampa Bay area in December of 2016 and love living near the beach in such in such a rich multicultural area