pooltime_300X200Three weeks ago, my family and I lived our lives to a set schedule that saw us all waking early and rushing out the door each morning for school and work. When we returned in the evening, the rest of our time together still had to run like clockwork to meet the bedtime deadline each night. While I have never been a fan of the hectic pace of our two-working-parents family life, I wholeheartedly embrace a schedule for the sake of my sanity. I need to know what’s going to happen when, as in, when will the house get quiet again? Oh yeah, at 8:00 pm when two-thirds of the children go to bed.

Up until three weeks ago, my part in all that rushing was to get to my classroom to prepare for a day spent experiencing and learning with my preschool students. With the coming of summer, the school factor gets removed from the day’s schedule for both me and my children, leaving a huge chunk that is essentially the whole damn day. What’s a mom to do?

Well, if you’re a lover of predictability like me, one option is to go the route of a Summer Schedule. Yes, the capitalization is necessary, for when you create such a paper to post front-and-center on your refrigerator, you are essentially deflecting all the blame for any potential whining from your shoulders to that of the Official Document. Maybe that deflection won’t work perfectly all the time, but in the last three weeks, I’ve come to find that my kids have reacted better than I had expected to denied requests when given the response, “Is it time for that on the schedule?”

I’m sure there are more ways to go about creating a summer schedule than I could imagine, and honestly, I got a wee bit overwhelmed after a short time of googling and blog-hopping in search of inspiration. All you Pinterest pals likely have seen boards galore with ideas, but I didn’t go that route either. What I did was try to think about what goals I had for my kids each day (beyond the very basic “don’t drive me so crazy that I run away” point), and also break the day into manageable chunks of time that balanced different types of play options and set aside time for responsibilities. Then I invited the children to offer their ideas to fill in the shell that I had created.

The result has some elements of the type of schedule I had for my preschool class over the years– some “free choice play time” which is basically like “open centers” in a classroom setting, followed by some court-mandated outdoor play time. (When it rained one afternoon, the kids put on their bathing suits and rode bikes and scooters through the drops, because the schedule said outdoor play.)

Since one of my goals for my kids is to make sure none is the stinky kid in his or her class, I’ve put in a short period of time in the schedule which we all now refer to as “Personal Hygiene Time,” ensuring that everyone actually brushes their teeth and such. Though taking up considerably less time than the segments for playing, there is also time to help out around the house, including my favorite 15 minutes of the afternoon– “Pick a Chore.” There’s a reasonable period of time each afternoon for summer homework packets and educational-themed activities, so the only sliding we do this summer is on a playground. And of course, (since I’m as much an addict as anyone else), I’ve included some screen time in the schedule, too. No Puritan attitude toward television and gaming in this house.

It’s been two weeks since the Summer Schedule went into effect, and honestly, each day brings its own little logistics challenges- a dentist visit here, a play date there. But, the framework is set and available for us to fit into it whenever we can, and I for one appreciate the structure to our day. Best of all, “Pool Time” appears regularly on the schedule, an instant hit for all of my kids!

Dawn knows her lists and schedules invite the teasing of others (some who even love her dearly), but she can’t imagine life without them. In her own schedule, she tries her best to fit in blogging at my thoughts exactly, and reviewing books at 5 Minutes for Books.