Friday, June 5, 2015

How We Do a Summer Day in Seven Easy Steps, 7QT

Pretty sure I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I love summer.

Love, love, love it.

And this summer is turning out to be even better than the last few. (Except for the trip Bryan and I took to Europe last year. That was pretty much perfection.)

Not one child is signed up for any day camps. Star is the only one going to camp, and it's overnight Boy Scout camp. Buttercup will be leaving next week for a mission trip to New Mexico, but that's (obviously) overnight, too. And I don't have a ripped-up knee to keep me immobile.

Our days a free until soccer practice in the evening.

Wide open time I can fill up any way I want.

As far as I'm concerned, the perfect summer includes a combination of getting projects done and having lots of fun and giving everyone a chance to kick back and relax.

Without any fighting, arguing, or general discord.

For us, that means a schedule. I know, a schedule seems counterproductive to relaxing and having fun, but for a family with this many people, a schedule is the best way to go.

This is how we do a summer day in seven easy steps.

Good morning!

I let the kids get up whenever their eyes open, to an extent. For some, that means between 7:30 and 8. Others like to sleep in later. Unfortunately for those kids, I am the kind of person who gets anxious and jittery when people sleep in. All I can think is, "You're wasting the day! You are totally wasting the day!" My limit is 9:30. At that point, all remaining sleepyheads are yanked from their slumber. All breakfast is consumed, beds are made, teeth are brushed, and kids are dressed by 10:00.

Completely reasonable, I think.


The kids know that each day will come with a project of some sort. Each day is different, and it usually depends on the weather. Each morning, I gather my work force and let them know what we will be doing. It may be mowing, raking, and getting grass clippings on the garden. It may be cleaning the outside of the windows. It may be cleaning floors. Or going through dressers to cull the extra/ill-fitting clothes. It could be organizing the basement. So many options that no one wants to do, but no one complains, either.

Yes. You read that correctly. No one complains. And here's why. This is very important. It's the key to this whole operation going smoothly.

Every day (so it is as expected as much as eating is) I let them know what the expectations are for that day's chore, and once it's done, they will receive no more extra work that day. 

For example, I may have cleaning the basement on the day's agenda. I will tell them that if everyone works diligently, we will work for 30 minutes. If I have to keep reminding kids to get back to work, we will work for 45. I will even set the timer. They know that when the timer goes off, they are done. They can trust that I will not come up with something else for them to do later that same day.

If we're weeding, I will say something like, "I want these four rows done this morning." We'll all get to work, and when those four rows are done, the kids are free to go.

This takes some planning on my part. I have to prioritize and be patient. Yes, I'm excited to have time to get all of these things we've put off done, but I have to remember that the summer is supposed to be fun, too.

Note: The kids still have their normal animal chores to do at some point during the day. These are chores that take no more than 5 minutes, and they are part of the daily routine all year long.


Once the chores are done, the kids can do whatever they feel like doing. Reading, playing games, doing scavenger hunts, playing ball, and working on crossword puzzles have been the activities of choice this week. Sometimes I'll play with them, sometimes I'll keep working on the yard or laundry or some such thing.


Lunch goes one of two ways, depending on the evening's schedule. High school practices are a pain, and for now, Turken's baseball practice is right in the mix. If it is a full night in which I won't be able to make dinner, we will have dinner at lunch time. The kids will then each make their own lunches at dinner time. If I will be home, then the kids fend for themselves for lunch, making soup, sandwiches, quesadillas, or leftovers. Add some fruit and they are good to go.

Video games!

I've been very clear that I am not a fan of video games, but I'm also not a fan of my children hating me for banning video games altogether. If I only had one or two kids, I wouldn't be so tyrannical about it all, but with 5 boys who like to play, I have to be. Besides playing their own games, they like to watch when the other boys are playing. Each boy gets half an hour, simply because if they each got more time, they'd be in front of a screen for 5 hours straight.

I chose this time of the day for practical reasons. It can get darn hot outside, so we stay out of the sun at it's harshest time.

More fun!

Play, run, build, whatever, until it's time to leave for practice.


I decide it is a beautiful day and we need to go somewhere. I drop the chores, we pack a lunch, and we go to a park, the zoo, a children's museum, an amusement park, the pool, or some other fun place I find.

That kind of day is our favorite.

We are one week into our summer break, and this system is going strong once again. I'm happy because we're being productive. The kids are happy because they have plenty of time to do whatever they want. Win-win all around.

So, how does your family do summer break? Loosey goosey or completely scheduled or something in between?

I'm linking this up (so late in the day!) with Kelly's 7 Quick Takes. Feel free to hop over and read some others or link up your own post!

Have a lovely day!


  1. And the most important thing you do everyday is the chore. That will teach them discipline that they will keep throughout their lifetime. They will also probably do the same with their kids. You'll be very proud when they do.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. Well, I hope they learn something from the chores. If not, at least I'm getting some things done around here. :)

  2. I like this. I think I can adapt this. The thing is, my kids are still so dependent. There's no fixing your own lunch business around here. And I am constantly called on to referee to teach or monitor activities still. Since my oldest has special needs, I can't really count on her to be the teacher to the younger, either. I admire your organization.

    1. Don't be thinking we were able to do this exact thing when the big kids were little! My little guys don't make their own lunches yet. Either I or a big kids does it for them. I have always had them do chores with me, but at their level. For example, this morning, while the big kids helped me clean the outside of the windows, the little kids collected mulberries. Lots of mulberries. And there wasn't any arguing, because they could pick from trees 50 yards apart. :)
      I haven't forgotten about the independent play post. I'll write it, I promise!

  3. I like your schedule. We are pretty scheduled as well. Actually we still do school in the summer, unless we have something else to do that's more fun, so then we skip it. I'm really relaxed about school during the summer time. And we do chores as well, I like the idea of having one project a day that everyone works on. kids all make their own (except the 2 year old and someone usually helps her).

    Lots of times in the late afternoon, we'll go to a nearby pond or lake for swimming. My kids love swimming and I love going later in the day when it's not crowded and we don't have to worry about the sun.

    1. We, too, like to go swimming later in the day once all of the campers have left. Unfortunately, with kids in high school, that doesn't get to happen all that often, since they have to be at practice half an hour away at 6:00. Of course, when Phoenix gets his license at the end of the month, the three youngest and I can do whatever we want. :)

  4. I love this. Can we come for a week and help with chores? It sounds amazing. On summer days when we are home together, I try to give us structure to our day too. But not as well-planned as yours! This is great. I am going to give some thought to how we can have a clearer schedule--and get some work done, too.

    1. Of course! The more workers the merrier! :) I never could have stayed sane all these years without a schedule. Even when the kids were little, we had one. It didn't look just like this one, but it was most certainly a schedule.

  5. The lovely days of summer. I'm sure your children are happy and loving every minute of their summer days. I think putting a time limit on the chores and one chore a day and then it is done puts the finite time limit that makes it easy for the kids to handle. Hope you enjoy lots of fun outings this summer, too.

    1. I'm pretty sure they enjoy their summers, despite the chores. :) Our adventures are more limited now that we have high school athletes, but we'll be doing as much as we can.

  6. You really do a great job parenting!

    1. I try. It's my job. My calling. I really think it is what I was made to do, and I want to do it to the very best of my ability. Thank you for the encouragement. :)

  7. LOVE your summer plans... I want to come live with you. Can I?

    I'm with you about structure and planning... it helps the kids so much and gives us all more productive time frames and honestly helps with establishing boundaries and fun in our day!

  8. I love your summer day plan. I'm thinking along very similar lines for us here this summer. Zilla's big enough to do some kid-size chores and projects and while I do think she needs to be busy doing something for at least part of the day, I also think down time is so important. I have to figure out the balance here because I'm hoping to have some steady work coming in and I'm home alone with her for much of the summer while the Hub is at work. In order for me to work with her in tow, we have to figure out some system that is NOT her sitting in front of videos. Any ideas you have, please feel free to shoot my way via email or whatever.
    Happy summer - we have one week to go and I"m ready!

  9. We pretty much have the same schedule year round here. Any unexpected surprises can cause havoc in Riley World. Having said that...we are not nearly as productive as your household. I think I need to do up a schedule for G and limit his screen time. ;)

    Sounds like your troop is having a great summer so far. I look forward to reading about all your fun adventures.


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