Summer strategies: Fun plans with your kids

by Brittany Gilbert

Recently, my husband and I made the decision that I will not be returning to teaching in the fall. While I am very excited to be able to soak up all of our boys’ childhoods, I am a little nervous about what our days at home will be like. I’ve been reading magazines, interviewing friends and spending lots of time on Pinterest searching for ideas.

Maybe, like us, you won’t be taking a vacation this summer, or maybe you just need some ideas to make the most out of each day while you are home with your kids. Hopefully I can give you some tips to make each day go smoothly.

Schedules make the world go round. Most children thrive on a routine, and a schedule is easy to make. You want to fill up your day in increments of either 30 minutes or an hour and include meal times, snacks, free play, activities, naps, chores, etc. This will help you with staying organized and in planning things for you and your children to do.

In all of the researching I’ve done and the friends I have asked about their experience in staying home with their children, scheduling has been their highest recommendation. It gets mom off the couch, the TV doesn’t stay on all day and things actually get done.

Get out of the house. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you stay home all the time. There are tons of free and inexpensive activities outside of the home. The Faulkner County Library has a calendar for each month on their Facebook page with all of their activities. Plan play dates with friends or have scheduled days to visit the park. Last summer, my husband met us at the park during his lunch for a picnic and play time. It not only made for a break in our day, but also in his.

Plan for fun. Whether you’re planning for the entire summer or a Staycation, it’s always better when there is fun involved. Set a realistic budget and set money aside for activities, meals — either outside of the home or meals you plan and prepare yourself — and even some splurges.

As for activities, you can look around the community yourself, or if your kids are old enough you can place their ideas in a jar and whenever you need an activity you can draw one at random. Even if you are home all summer, you can still schedule a certain week as your Staycation and go all out! Ideas for Staycation week include virtual museum tours, going to a water park or creating your own, going to the theater, visiting the library or a local festival, camping in your backyard or completing a family project.

Have days of rest. It’s OK to have down days. You’ve planned days full of activities, and now you’re exhausted. Chances are your kids are, too. Schedule days where all you do is lay around in your PJs all day. Even if these days are spontaneous after a few days of running around, that’s OK, too. Everyone needs to rest and recuperate.

Remember you are making memories. Whatever it is you decide to do and no matter how long you’re home with children, you have a great opportunity to make it memorable. Designate times where you put the cell phones away, turn the TV off, eliminate other distractions and focus on each other.

This means no fighting, no worrying and no chores.

Your children will remember when they have your undivided attention.


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].