You know how the summer schedule for kids goes right?
In the beginning, you’re all Mary Poppins coming up with fun and exciting ways to entertain the kids while keeping firm boundaries. By the end, you’ve got a serious eye twitch and back-to-school couldn’t come fast enough!
This summer will be the first one in a couple of years that my kids will be home with me full-time for three months. Since this ain’t my first rodeo (annnnd I’m guessing it’s not yours either since you’re here vs. winging it), I hatched a plan to keep us all sane and happy.
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My best tricks for a daily summer schedule for kids.
I’ll walk you through our summer morning and bedtime routines and then show you the overall daily schedule for the kids. Plus, I created a a summer routine printable template for you to grab at the end. Yay!
1. Morning routine ideas for kids.
First off, we are starting to help the kids stay in their rooms until a certain time each morning. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, then nothing robs your morning free-time like the kids poking you in the eye at 5 am.
We are grabbing one of these toddler alarm clocks for each of our kids this summer. Having them practice now is a great way to help them be ready to put this skill into action by the time school is done in late May or June.
And as always, our kids are proud owners of black out curtains. There is nothing worse than having kids see the first spec of light at 4:30 am and thinking it’s time to wake up for the day.
Our kids are allowed to play or read quietly in their rooms until the clock goes off at 7 am. This gives me a chance to get up each morning (when I’m feeling ambitious, I get up at 5 am) and do something just for me like exercise, read a book, have some coffee, and shower.
THEN…summer morning routine activities.
While the kids are waiting for breakfast, we start the day off with a “breakfast invitation.” This is a crazy simple activity that the kids can do, and it helps them easily transition into free play.
Using this one simple strategy, I’ve been able to save our screen-time until the afternoons and keep our mornings screen-free. When the kids are fresh and rested in the morning, they are so much better at sibling play.
Here’s a general rundown of our morning routine:
- Kids wake up. Play in their room until 7 am when alarm clock lets them know it’s okay to come out.
- Get dressed. They pick their clothes out for the week on Sundays and put it in this handy file organizer. They have this clothing organizer on Amazon and they are cute, but the file organizer holds up way better over time. Our morning rule is they need to get dressed before breakfast, and it’s cut way down on the getting dressed battles.
- “Breakfast invitation” while waiting for breakfast.
- Eat breakfast, go into free-play when finished.
- After about an hour, we head out to do something fun!
2. Summer bedtime routines for kids.
During the school year, we tend to rock a really early bedtime for the kids. However, during the summertime, we will let the kids stay up until around 8 pm OR sometimes as late as 9 pm if we are getting together with friends and family.
The sun sets a lot later in the summer, so again…blackout curtains. Starting at about 7 pm, I’ll start closing all the blinds and drapes in the house to help the kids wind down.
This is typically when the kids start following their routine cards.
If the kids are taking a bath or a shower at night, I’ll use these unique and creative bath toys for toddlers (they work great for older kids too). Since we only use them during bath time, the kids easily transition into creative free-play.
We also spend a lot of time reading during the day. So if I find myself short on time during the bedtime routine, I will skip reading at night and play with them instead using SAY WHAT YOU SEE®.
This is a really simple technique where you describe what the child is doing, thinking, feeling and saying without questions, fixing or judgement. This can help nourish your child’s need to connect and cut way down on the bedtime battles (i.e. child keeps getting out of bed 357 times).
Another quick thing that we do is use oils for sleep. Super easy and works!
Here’s a rundown of our bedtime routine.
- Close curtains to help kids wind down. Encourage kids to start following their routine cards.
- 2-3x per week the kids will take a bath or shower.
- Put on pajamas.
- Bedtime snack. My kids are on the lanky side and a bedtime snack definitely helps keep full tummies until the morning.
- Reading OR SAY WHAT YOU SEE® while they play to build connection.
- Roll-on essential oils up and down the spine. Set up diffuser with oils. The kids love to help with this.
- Brush teeth, potty, bedtime.
- Kids are allowed to read or play quietly with dim lights for 30 mins-ish. If they are still awake, I will let them know it’s time for lights out.
3. Quick daily schedule.
I know some stay-at-home moms love more structured times for a schedule rather than a general summer routine. So on days that we aren’t traveling, here is a loose example of times I follow:
- 7:00 am – kids wake up, get dressed, come down stairs, start breakfast invitation / activity
- 7:30 am – breakfast.
- 8:00 am – free-play. Check out open-ended toys if your kids need help.
- 9:00 am – head outside to the park, pool or adventure of the day.
- 11:00 am – back home, make lunch.
- 11:30 am – lunch.
- 12:00 pm – read to the kids + 10 mins of silent reading time on their own. Sometimes I will read for as long as an hour! But 30 mins is the goal, and sometimes that’s all we do.
- 12:40 pm – independent play in their rooms. They do this for about 20 minutes while they wait for screen-time.
- 1:00 pm – screen-time. During the school year, we limit scree-time to only the weekends. During the summer, I do 1 hour of screen-time per day. The kids each have their own Amazon free time account on their kid’s kindle. This allows you to limit everything to your child’s age and time allowed. It literally stops working after the time is up. If your child breaks it, Amazon will replace it. Another thing I love is that it allows the kids to decide if they want to play a game, read a book or watch a cartoon.
- 2:00 pm – snack.
- 2:30 pm – run errands, do an outdoor activity, meet up with friends, head to the park, etc.
- 4:00 pm – chores and prep dinner. The kids have a little job bag they pick from and do 2-3 jobs each day. We use these chore cards for kids (No charts! Yay!) They also pick up the toys around this time and we avoid the bedtime toy battle altogether. Check out setting limits for your strong willed child for more on this. If dinner prep has simple things the kids can do, they help cook the food alongside me. I’ll also put out veggies to stave off the hangry howls.
- 5:30 pm – family dinner at the table. If you having trouble keeping your kids at the dinner table, check out these conversation starters here.
- 6:00 pm – clean up dinner – the kids help, then kids free-play
- 6:45 / 7:00 pm – bath time (possibly), pajamas, bedtime snack, reading or play with the kids.
- 8:00 pm – bedtime. Kids are allowed to play in their room quietly. Our only rule is that they need to stay in their rooms.
- 8:30 pm – lights out.
4. Printable template.
These are the printable schedule cards for kids we use during both the school year and the summer. It also comes with an editable template so you can make your own custom routine for the kids.
The nice part about the cards is you can change up your routines based on the day (vs. a one sheet PDF). I will move the cards around depending on the day to help the kids know exactly what they need to do before bedtime and in the morning time.
A final word on free play – if you’re struggling to keep your kids busy during free play, do a quick check to make sure you have enough open-ended toys for kids. I’m a firm believer in toy minimalism, but not having enough open-ended toys can crush creative play. It’s made a world of difference in our home!
Here’s to enjoying summer with the kids and avoiding the eye-twitch come August!
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Want more on parenting?
- 5 Sample Daily Toddler Schedules from REAL Moms
- The Secret Way to Raise Independent Kids Who Play
- How to Use Role Reversal Games With Preschoolers to End Power Struggles
- The Most Overlooked Reason Why Kids Won’t Listen
- A Quick & Easy Toddler Bedtime Routine That Works Like a Charm
I've created a free email series just for you! If you are struggling with finding a routine, rhythm or schedule, this email series will help you find one that will work for YOUR family. Yes, really. I've seen my sample routines work time and time again for parents. I know it can work for you too.
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