Summer is upon us, and I am working hard to get back in the groove of things. In some ways it’s nice to have a more laid back schedule, but in others…. well, I’m already missing the comfort of a set-in-stone routine. The summer heat here is brutal, and I know we’ll be spending lots of time inside. In order to avoid turning into total couch potatoes, I’m really going to try to keep us active and engaged, and hopefully build some practical skills into our fun time.
Here are some of ways we’re sneaking summer skill building into our lazy days:
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A Teamwork Approach to Housework
Our kids have been cleaning up after themselves and helping with chores since they were toddlers, but this summer we’re working on real life skills that will help them work independently. Some of the things our 6&7 year olds will be practicing this summer include:
- Folding laundry a specific way
- Cleaning and polishing the bathroom sink
- Unloading the dishwasher and putting dishes away
- Loading the dishwasher a specific way
- Setting the table properly
- Keeping their art supplies clean and organized
- Keeping their bookshelf neat and tidy
- Stove safety and preparing basic foods like quesadillas and scrambled eggs
Most of these “training” opportunities are going to be in Mommy & Me chore sessions around the house. The girls are already used to working together with me on projects — they have no idea that summer skill building is my hidden agenda. And I’m totally fine with that. We’ll also be working on:
Healthier Habits for Sweets & Snacking
Without the structure of school days, it’s easy to get into the habit of snacking all day long. Constant grazing is not a habit I want to encourage though – it’s a recipe for constant messes and can easily turn into mindless munching and boredom eating (ask me how I know!) So we’ve determined some realistic meal and snack times, and are doing our best to stick to them – myself included.
We also got into the bad habit this year of eating sweets after almost every meal. I blame the Halloween/Christmas/Valentines/Easter candy influx that filled our candy jar and kept it full ALL. YEAR. LONG. I’m stocking up on this sugarfree gum in efforts to break the candy cravings and create habits (and life skills) that will be healthier for their bodies and teeth for years to come.
Does this count as summer skill building? I think so. My kiddos will probably see it as just boring-old-rules, but the truth is at this age, we have the power to shape habits that will affect the rest of their lives. This is totally an area I’m willing to be “mean old mom” on – even for myself!
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Strong Swimming Skills + Endurance
Being able to swim well can literally be a lifesaver, and it’s definitely something we’re focusing on this summer. We’ll already be spending hours at the pool to escape the summer heat, and we’re going to intentionally make time to practice the skills they learned in swimming lessons this spring:
- Treading water
- Floating, especially when they start to get tired
- Basic swim strokes
- The ability to swim 25+ yards without fatigue
The best part? We’re sneaking this into one of their favorite parts of the day – pool time! How fun is that?
Manners and Social Skills
Our girls are both very social, and easily make friends wherever we go. But we still could improve our playground etiquette skills, like introducing yourself and asking the other person’s name, inviting shy kids to be part of the group, and how to resolve disagreements in a kind and respectful way.
We’ll also be working on table manners this summer, and this is DEFINITELY needed. Yikes! Main focuses: eating neatly, sitting properly in your chair, using a napkin instead of clothes (please!!) and how to politely deal with foods you don’t care to eat.
I don’t really have a schedule for working on etiquette – we’ll be sneaking it into regular conversations in our day-to-day. And addressing issues as the need arises, of course. I know it will be something I’ll bring up on the way to playground dates and social gatherings. Spending so much time together will hopefully make it easier to work into everyday life.
What does summer look like for you?
Each summer has been incredibly different for us. Last year I worked full time, and was honestly bummed to miss out on the summer fun. This year I’m struggling on the other side of things – how to stay sane and productive with my kiddos underfoot, especially since we don’t have an outdoor space where they can play unsupervised. Some of this summer skill building might just be for my own sake as much as it is for my kids.
What’s your biggest summer challenge? Anything you’re specifically working on over the summer months? I’d love to hear your comments! And if you loved this article, please feel free to share the link with your friends!
Jamie Siebens is a freelance writer and owner of Always-an-Adventure.com, a blog focused on living intentionally and finding beauty in the everyday adventures of life. When she’s not behind a computer screen, you can find her with her husband and two daughters enjoying their current adventure – turning a former 1890’s one room schoolhouse and town hall into their cozy family home.