Summer can be both a fun and a crazy time for parents. Our kids are free from school or pre-school, and they have fewer pressures in their schedules. However, we parents can feel the pressure of more on our shoulders. We face our normal jobs, our regular daily work, plus the extra responsibilities of keeping our kids occupied. Many of us would like our kids to learn some responsibility during these summer months as well. So how do we balance all of this? What if we found a way to balance responsibility and family fun?
Decide between the necessary and the extra
This balance will not happen accidentally. It has been said that we can juggle only so many balls at once before we drop one. Another good ball-juggling piece of advice states that our work, social, and community activities are rubber balls that will bounce back. But our families are glass balls, and if dropped, there will be damage.
To achieve a balance between responsibility and family fun, we have to ditch the juggling picture. It’s better to figure out how to set down the glass ball of family and deal with the other responsibilities as necessary. Then as we’re able, we can fully care for our families and enjoy our time together in an effective, non-juggling way. So we begin by determining what really must be done.
What is the most necessary and important?
It’s easy to have a list a mile long and to feel that every item must be done. But when we look closely at our lists, we can see that some things are absolutely necessary, while other things are good to do, but not necessary. Life will go on if we set those things aside or put them off.
So take some time to sit down and prioritize your to-do list for the summer. It helps to have a loose schedule. Start by figuring out what things are weekly or daily requirements. Which items are things that simply must be done? Those items will take the #1 spot. Decide how much time these will take and where they fit on your schedule.
What would be good to get done?
Then figure out what items are things that really should happen next. When can you realistically fit them in? Can you tackle one extra item per week? Or maybe two of these extra items per month? Figure out what will work for you to be able to accomplish the things you’d like to, but also allow some space for fun with your family. Make a list of these items, but do not add them to your schedule yet.
Anything left on your to-do list will have to wait too. If we keep plugging the to-dos into our schedule, we won’t have room left for rest and fun. And this won’t help us to balance responsibility and family fun.
Prioritize your fun
Next, we’ll do the same thing with fun. Choose the most important things, like scheduled vacations or summer camps, to add to your schedule first. Talk with your family and figure out what other things you all really want to be able to do this summer. If you end up with a huge list, prioritize again. Decide which fun items are the most important, and get those on your schedule. Set aside the optional things as a separate list, and do them if you have extra time during the summer.
Do remember this is a loose schedule. You don’t have to schedule a fun activity for a specific day. You can say that you’ll take this special hike during the third week of July, or even during the month of July. If you know an exact date, that’s great, but it’s OK to keep this as a general plan rather than a specific one.
As you list out your activities, both necessary and fun, you can use the Category section of our Signing Time Dictionary for inspiration and to learn the signs that go with your own list of responsibilities and fun.
Additional scheduling ideas
Go a step further in your scheduling efforts, and set a general schedule for your family. It could set work days and fun days. Or you could set work hours and fun hours each day.
See if you can get your kids involved in a day camp or summer camp to provide you a solid block of work time. Or arrange times with a friend or neighbor to take turns watching one another’s kids for a few hours. Your kids will enjoy the playdate, and you’ll both be helping each other get some work time in.
Build in a quiet time each day, or for certain days of the week, so that you have a guaranteed time to get things done or to get some rest yourself.
Try to build a basic daily rhythm, like a general wake up and be ready time, a way to get some household chores done together (just 15-20 minutes can help you keep order), and a set time to be ready for whatever your day holds.
Take some time to have a meal plan that will really work for you. This will take away the daily pressure of this decision and free up some mental space for you each day.
My Signing Time can help!
We can help you with fun, educational programming for your kids. As you figure out your summer family fun, your kids can learn signs for their fun ideas in our Signing Time episode Family, Feelings, and Fun. Or you can watch our new series, TreeSchoolers: The Legends of Phonetica. You can watch these and so many more programs for various ages with a My Signing Time digital subscription. Check it out with a 14-day free trial here!