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boy standing in Patuxent river

Wondering how you're going to survive summer vacation?

Don't worry, you're probably not alone.

By this point, I think most schools are out for summer vacation. Whether you're a stay at home mama, a work at home mom, or you work outside of the house, the thought of keeping your kids engaged (and your sanity alive) through summer break might feel daunting.

children jefferson patterson park

But don't fret. I've spent a lot of summers working as a nanny for toddlers and school aged kiddos, and in that role, I learned there are a couple of things parents and caretakers can do over the summer to keep it fun while also keeping your sanity intact and everyone alive.

1. Ask your kids what they want to do! Okay, I don't mean to get real deep and philosophical on ya on the first tip, but... I think self-determination is really important in finding out who we are and what we were created to do. And I don't think there's a such thing as "too early" to start letting your child make (age appropriate) choices about how they spend their time. Actually, giving your kids choices gives them some autonomy, which leads to self-discovery, which (I believe) leads to greater joy!

You could make this a fun family activity, and create a Summer 2018 Bucket List. Ask your kids, what's one new thing you'd like to do this summer? What's one thing you'd like to do every week this summer? Once you have some ideas about what your kids would like to do, find ways to incorporate their ideas into your summer plans. Maybe your child likes reading and wants to read more - sign them up for your local library's summer reading program. Maybe your child wants to explore some science experiments - look on Pinterest for fun experiments kids can do safely. These ideas don't have to be big or require a lot of money, and you don't have to honor your child's every request, but their input can make for a more enjoyable summer for everyone.

2. Make a "summer routine." So this might not *feel* really fun and exciting, but one thing I've learned through my 15+ years of working with kids is they need some semblance of routine. It doesn't have to be really rigid, and it doesn't have to be the same thing every day, but some boundaries and parameters around their school-free days will help them stay engaged in the summer (and it'll make for an easier transition back to school!). My routine as a nanny always included some indoor play in the morning before an outing in the community that lasted until lunch time. Sometimes we had lunch out, sometimes we had a picnic, sometimes we went back home for lunch. After lunch was nap and/or quiet time for at least an hour. Once everyone had relaxed for a little after lunch, we'd do something around the house/neighborhood, like a craft or go to the community pool or playground. Our activities changed daily, but we generally maintained the same routines/times each day. If you're not sure how to break up your day, there are lots of resources on Google and Pinterest!

What other tips have you found to make for a successful summer? I'd love to hear your wins in the comments!

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