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Simple Summer: Creating a Relaxed Routine

summer break with kids on a beach next to waves

This summer is going to be different for us than it has in the past. We have a baby in the house for the first time since the kids started school. That alone will be a new experience for all of us. Along with having added a baby to our crew, our school routine will also be changing at the end of the summer break. Instead of homeschool, we have enrolled in a hybrid school, where the kids will attend 3 days a week, then work at home the other two school days. All of this has me really thinking about what I want our summer break to look like this year.

I want to be able to enjoy this summer with my kids. To say “yes” to spontaneous requests for a bike ride, or playing a board game. To bake with them because I know how much they love it. I want to curl up on the couch with them to share a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie in the afternoon. I want time to read, and maybe even nap when the baby naps, occasionally.

And I also need time to work. I need time to get laundry done, and dishes washed, and meals cooked. The house still needs to be cleaned and groceries still need to be bought.

What keeps running through my mind is this: I want to enjoy summer break again.

It’s not that I don’t like summer break. I like that I don’t have lessons to plan. We don’t spend hours at school desks. Bedtime gets pushed back and we get to enjoy longer evenings together. Our schedule gets a little more flexible. That flexibility and extra free time involve extra messes, too, of course. Plus, the usual daily tasks of cleaning and keeping everyone fed can really put a damper on enjoying our downtime 😉

I don’t want to be fussy from the clutter and overwhelm.

I want be able to relax, and also take care of what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly.

There has to be a balance between the two.

Here’s my game plan to make it happen:

Clear the clutter- literally. Walking into a room and seeing every flat surface covered with all the things honestly makes it feel a little hard to breathe. Maybe an overly dramatic reaction, but there it is. Difficulty breathing makes me cranky, so I plan to spend a couple days at the start of summer break decluttering. This is not a top-to-bottom house clean out; just putting emphasis on a few key areas.

  • Bedrooms; less “stuff” means less mess, and fewer meltdowns over cleaning up. Plus, more space for playing and getting creative. Less stuff means they can really see what they have, and what is left actually gets used.
  • Clothes; fewer things in the closet will hopefully make it easy to grab clothes so there’s not a struggle to find things to put on in the morning.

Schedule chores

Admittedly, I don’t do well with a messy house. Clutter makes me anxious and fussy. Having to put the house back together multiple times a day makes me feel overwhelmed. I also share our home with tiny humans who don’t share my sometimes all-consuming desire for a neat house. They enjoy when their room is clean, and often tell me how much better it they feels to have it that way, (making progress, maybe?) But the natural tendency to clean up from one thing before moving on to the next hasn’t been fully engrained in them, yet. Cleaning up as we go, rather than having a big mess to tackle at the end of the day is going to be key for keeping things in order.

To keep the chaos under control, we’re focusing on taking care of the biggest pain points: dishes and laundry.

  • The kids already are responsible for unloading the dishwasher. I’ll handle hand washed items to have the sink cleared before bedtime.
  • Dirty clothes put in the laundry room in the evening; pj’s put in laundry in the morning. I will start a load of laundry in the morning, then immediately fold and put it away when it’s done. This way, I won’t allow dirty laundry to pile up, and we won’t be digging through baskets of clean clothes for something to wear.

Plan simple meals

Make a list of simple meals everyone likes (bonus if it’s things the kids can help with). “Simple meals” should have few ingredients, use few dishes to prepare, or use one-pot/sheet pan/grill to cook. Also think about no-cook or make ahead options, like chicken salad, pimiento cheese, muffins for breakfast, cut fruit for snacks. Best sources for simple recipes are Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbooks or from Holly & Natalie at themodernproper.com . There are also tons of ideas on Pinterest, of course. I have a board just for one-pot/sheet pan cooking.

So there it is; my plan to help make our summer more relaxed and enjoyable this year. I’d love to hear your ideas for simplifying things this summer!

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