Well dear ones, summer is upon us. All over the nation kids are counting down the days! And that, of course, I understand. But when I hear mamas counting down the days I am always amazed. I regularly hear them saying, “I can’t WAIT for summer!” to which I am completely astonished. True, most of them don’t have 5 kids, but still. They are relishing the slower pace and longer days.
But not me.
Because I can wait for summer. Oh boy can I wait for summer!
Sure, I am looking forward to a break from carpool and homework and the general grind of the school year. And yes, I am looking forward to seeing 5 sleepy faces still in pajamas at noon eating cereal. Being on vacation in St. Augustine and generally enjoying a time when my planner is not surgically attached to my hand. Yes, summer means all of that.
But summer ALSO means that all 5 of my squad will be home ALL DAY EVERY DAY for the next 3 months. Summer also means that I am now solely responsible for making sure their academic lives don’t atrophy and their social lives move along at a healthy rate so that they do not become emotional cannibals.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I ADORE MY CHILDREN.
But after 17 years of parenting I am no fool-
I know that for me summer is more work than the school year.
And so I have devised a sanity-saving plan that I utilize and tweak every year, which I am pleased to deliver right onto your screens. This plan helps me to do the following:
- Understand how each child needs to develop and grow in 5 key areas of their lives: physically, spiritually, intellectually, socially and with home skills.
- It allows each child to contribute their desires and dreams for their summer and ways to implement them
- It implements the routine and schedule that will guide every single day of our summer
- It allows me to see the entire summer in one glance and plug in important dates and activities
- It contains all learning needs, goals and staff for the summer with plans and scheduled tutoring/speech/summer school needs
- It has a “Summer Report Card” note taking system that allows me to evaluate how summer has gone. Wht worked, what didn’t. These notes are saved in my summer binder and are waiting for me next summer when I begin planning. This keeps me from having to re-invent the wheel every year.
- It contains forms for babysitting, camps, academic schedules, calendars and bucket lists!
Step 1: Prayer
I never go into a summer planning without spending time with Christ. He is the One Who Stands Outside of Time which is an overly holy way of saying He is already in the future and knows the steps I need to take. He is the One who created my little ones and knows exactly what they will need… and most importantly, He is the one who CAN GIVE IT TO THEM! So I always go to the source first before I start the delicious frenzy of summer planning.
However, praying for our kids can be difficult even though the act itself is wildly simple. So I have a tool I utilize. This idea is from the INCREDIBLE book The Family Manager’s Guide to Summer Survival by Kathy Peel. I’ve simply glammed it up (since I like pretty forms) and added an additional element that allows me to pray through the skills my kids should have by the end of the summer as well. It is based on Luke 2:52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Essentially, Jesus grew in 4 key areas: intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially. I think using this as a framework for planning summer is sheer brilliance.
I am including a pic of the doc so you can see it and also a link so you can customize and print it. But do me a favor, okay? If you use my intellectual property can you please have integrity and give me credit for it if someone asks you about it or you post anything while using it? Not saying you wouldn’t but you’d be surprised how much thievery there is out there. Please don’t be a jerk.
Here’s the form I pray through:
Mamastrong Summer Child Development Planner 2016 (Word document that you can download and customize).
Here’s the visual…
So, what I will do with this form is sit in a quiet place with a cup of tea and simply pray. “Lord, how does my oldest boy need to grow intellectually this year?” And sure enough a few things will come to mind. For instance, this summer he needs help in geometry and writing. But not everything comes at once when I pray. It is seldom a one-and-done deal and so I have learned to be patient. But the form allows me to capture all the ideas and counsel I get from God in prayer and from teachers, friends, coaches, etc. I’ll put those in the goals section and then ideas on how to implement those goals I write in the ideas section. It looks like this when it is all filled out:
I will then do the same for the other 4 kids. It does take a while, but the work is worth it! When I am done I have a very good idea of where God intends for us to go this summer and from there I move on to step 2: Completing my To Do list based on these ideas and plugging items into the calendar, but that is for next time! Here is a sneak peak of my all-summer calendar. I’ll make this bad boy downloadable in the next post!
Until next post! Please share this if you find it useful!