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Designing our summer

Designing our summer | RISING*SHININGsummer fun in 2019

Summer break starts for the boys TODAY and my planning brain has been at work to design our summer. In thinking about our summer I realized that summers feel challenging to me for two reasons: one, my very energetic boys are out of school which means more active parenting and entertaining; and two, it's really, really hot so we're pretty much confined to being indoors (reminder: two very energetic boys) or in a pool.

I thrive on structure and routine, and I think kids do too, so I wanted to create a rhythm to our days and weeks. At the same time my kids are 8, 6, and 1 so any structure needs to be flexible. (Ahem, I need to be flexible.) With all of this in mind I created a daily rhythm plus thought of weekly activities and a few summer adventures to look forward to.

The boys are out of school for about nine and half weeks. Over the course of the summer they're going to do four weeks of camps with a general pattern of one week at camp, one week at home, one week at camp, etc. I hope it means that our days won't become too monotonous since there will always be something to look forward to on the horizon. The daily rhythm below will be for the days when the boys are home. On camp days we'll shorten the morning routine and then head out to camp.


Daily rhythm

6 a.m. // Wake up, breakfast, morning routine. The Whartons are up and at 'em early!

The boys' morning routine already includes getting dressed, eating breakfast, making their beds, and brushing their teeth. There are two changes I want to make for the summer: having the boys make their own breakfast Monday–Friday and also having them do an additional daily chore. To make independent breakfast easy, the night before we can set out plates, bowls, cereal, and the toaster. Then they can make cereal and/or toast for themselves. We could also start stocking frozen waffles and pancakes which I think they would love. With oven oversight from us they could also make biscuits from a can.

One daily chore, chosen from a chore menu of options, is also getting added to the morning routine. These additional chores will earn $0.50 each. I plan to print out a chore menu and put it on the fridge to make it easy to see the choices. Or maybe I should create a chore bingo chart, inspired by Christine's life skills bingo? So far my ideas for chores include: taking out the trash, compost, or recycling; emptying the dishwasher; cleaning a bathroom; cleaning out the car; sweeping the front/back porch and sidewalk; watering the plants outside with the hose; watering house plants; and helping with a load of laundry including starting the wash, moving the wash to the dryer, and helping to fold. Some of these chores the boys already do occasionally, especially when they are motivated to earn money.

I have an overall summer goal for the boys of having them make their own breakfast and to being able to help more with laundry. We'll see how it goes!

7:30-9 a.m. // Screen time for the boys (once their morning routine is complete and if it's not a summer camp week). On weeks they have summer camp maybe we'd let them do screen time in the afternoon. Dash and Cedric are super into Minecraft right now which they play on computers. After hearing about Minecraft for years I still kind of marvel and chuckle that it's become part of my life. I guess it's practically a parenting rite of passage! It seems like an innocuous game and I actually like it better than previous computer games the boys have found to play. I’m scheduling their screen time at the beginning of the day because otherwise there is much grumbling about it and this is how I’m choosing my battles.

9/9:30 a.m. // Maeve goes down for her morning nap. I'm happy to report that morning nap has been going really well. Maeve goes down easily and just about always sleeps for at least 45 minutes and sometimes longer, although we can never predict when.

9-10:30 a.m. // Snack for the boys and quiet activities while Maeve naps. Maybe they'll be into their own projects or maybe I'll read aloud to them or play a game with them. And to be honest sometimes they will probably get extra screen time because I will be eager to have my own quiet time while Maeve naps.

10:30 a.m. // Possible morning outing. Once a week we'll go to the library. Other times I could take the kid crew to run a couple of errands since they're all pretty happy listening to podcasts in the car. Otherwise we'll be hanging at home, hopefully peacefully.

Noon-ish // Lunch. I love the idea of making kiddo lunches in the morning just like a school day. That's usually something Chris does so I will try to recruit him to this task.

12:30/1 p.m./generally after lunch // Quiet reading time with an enticing snack. Taking a break from each other and resting benefits us all. If only the boys felt as strongly about this as I do.

At some point last year our hour of quiet rest time stopped working, even with the reward of a selection from the coveted snack basket. That leaves me hoping but not confident that I can re-institute an hour of quiet time this summer. One thing working in my favor is that Dash is now reading independently so I hope with a steady supply of library books he will enjoy some reading time. Cedric has always been more amenable to quiet time and is happy to look at books, draw, or narrate scenes with action figures. To sweeten the deal of quiet time I'm thinking I will offer a snack like cinnamon letter cookies or mini chocolate chip cookies that the boys could take into their rooms to enjoy with their books. I also signed both boys up for our library's summer reading program so maybe that will also motivate them to log reading minutes. Stay tuned...

2 p.m. // Maeve's afternoon nap, a quiet indoor activity with the boys, or taking the boys to the pool while Chris stays home with Maeve.

The timing of Maeve's afternoon nap depends on when she wakes up from her morning nap so the afternoons seem less predictable. Of course it's also possible that nap timing could completely change this summer at some point too if she drops to one nap but I won't worry about that right now. Some options for keeping the boys busy during this time include playing a board game with the boys (although they are often resistant), watching a show or movie with them or letting them watch one themselves, or taking the boys out somewhere if Chris has a light afternoon and can hang with Maeve when she wakes up. I do hope to take at least the boys if not all three kids to the public pool at least twice a week. We could also do a trampoline jump park where there would be glorious air conditioning. (For now we've decided that we are okay with these indoor type activities if the boys wear masks which they are great at doing.) When Maeve is up from her nap and if we aren't going out we can sit with her while she plays at her water table in the backyard shade.

~4 p.m. // Head back home if we've been out, family hang out time, start dinner prep

5-7 p.m. // Dinner, family hang out, bath/showers, bedtime

We have fun, full summer days ahead!


Weekly activities

+ Weekly visits to the library

+ Going to the public pool one or more times per week. Our favorite local pool is Mesquite Pool near downtown Gilbert.

+ Cold treat Wednesdays! Every Wednesday afternoon we'll go find a delicious cold treat. I thought this seemed like a good way to carry us through the middle of the week and to try out several local places.

+ Cousin play dates


Summer travel and adventures

For summer adventuring we have some travel planned plus I'd like to take the boys on a couple of mama day trips.

+ Tonto Natural Bridge day trip. My parents are planning to go with the boys and me to visit this amazing state park. After a hike we'll head up the road to Pine, AZ for delicious pizza before driving home.

+ Sedona creek day. I'd love to take the boys to spend a day in cool water surrounded by red rocks. We always spend a day at the creek during my book club's annual Sedona retreat and I think the boys would love it.

+ Chris and the boys go to Seattle + Sedona book club retreat. Of course these two trips fall over the same weekend! Chris is taking the boys to Seattle along with his parents and sister to visit his brother and celebrate two graduations. Meanwhile my parents will keep Maeve so that I can go on my annual Sedona book club retreat which I skipped last year.

+ Austin trip. We're heading to Austin for about 12 days in mid-July. We haven't been in so long! During the first weekend we're there I'll be joining other women at a retreat hosted by Sara and I'm really looking forward to it. When we get back from Austin we'll just have about a week before school starts.


And that's my plan heading into the summer! If you'd like more inspiration and practical advice for designing your summer I would recommend the recent episode of The Lazy Genius podcast about planning a summer day. In particular I liked the advice that no day will be ideal and to break up the summer into segments. I'm also trying to make sure that I have something for me to look forward to every few weeks whether that is one of my girls' retreats, taking myself out for a pedicure and lunch, or spending the night away at my parents house.

I'd love to know what summer routines or plans you are making. Wishing you a fun start to this new season after a very long school year!