Elizabeth Elizabeth is a divorced mother of two elementary-aged boys. She is a former English professor and lay minister who now manages the office and communications for a local church. When she's not working or writing, you'll usually find her cooking for her loved ones or hanging out at coffee shops and bookstores. Contact her by e-mailing her at Elizabeth@mumblingmommy.com.

Are you home with your kids this summer and worried about boredom? A recent article making the rounds online argues that kids need more free time and “boredom” in the summer than we’re used to allowing them. I actually agree with the blogger in the article, but I also know that I need to get out of the house regularly, too. I’m an extrovert, and unlike my introverted friend Rachael, I don’t enjoy large amounts of time at home. Then I wondered if there were a stay at home mom guide for summer existing, and how I would begin to create one.

During breaks, my kids and I enjoy getting out in either the morning or afternoon and spending at least half of the day out of the house (the rest of the day is “free time,” which keeps things in balance). But if I wake up each morning without a definite plan, then it could take us half the morning to decide what to do, pack up any needed supplies, and get out the door. So much for free time!

A couple of years ago I had a summer teaching job fall through, so we had to watch our pennies. I knew I’d want to get out of the house with the kids, but I also knew that if I didn’t have a good plan, it could get expensive. So I created a Summer Activities sheet that I kept in a binder in the kitchen. I did all of my research and organizing ahead of time so that each day I could just wake up, glance at the binder, and get ready

I plan for two types of activities: 1) activities with a fixed date, such as a special event at our local library, and 2) ongoing activities we can enjoy any time during the summer. I look up any library events, plays, or other one-time activities available during the summer and put them on my Google calendar. It doesn’t mean we “have” to do them, but having them in writing keeps me from forgetting something special and regretting it later.

We love going to the zoo in the summer!
Image via flickr.com

The “ongoing” activities are the most useful to keep organized. This is where the activity sheet comes in handy. Here’s how to create your stay at home mom guide for summer:

Stay at Home Mom Guide for Summer

1. Click here to download a Word document of my Summer Activities Table.

2. Brainstorm a list of fun things to do in your area. Do you like outdoor activities, like parks, water play, or zoos? Or would you rather go to air-conditioned places like children’s museums or malls? There are a ton of blogs and articles online for “best things to do with kids” in major cities, and many small towns have information on parks and activities on their city websites, too. I live in the St. Louis area, and my favorite go-to sites for free activities are STL Parent and the St. Louis County Library.

3. While searching, keep track of costs, days/hours open, and distance (especially if you’re trying to work around nap schedules!) Record these in your table as you find them.

4. Consider if certain days are better than others for popular events/places. For example, our city zoo is less crowded Mondays-Wednesdays than other days of the week. I discovered that by asking an employee which days are best to visit. If you’re concerned about crowds, then ask your friends or even call ahead of time to find out the best time to visit. Record this in your table.

5. Post your table on the fridge or keep it in a binder where you can easily reach it. Refer to it in the mornings to quickly plan your day.

Summer picnics: fun and cheap.

It takes a little time to set up, but once you have your activities table in place, you don’t need to waste time each day figuring out what to do, how long it takes to get there, how much it costs, or whether or not you can bring food along (since it’s cheaper to pack a picnic than pay for lunch).

Finally, remember to keep things balanced. As much as I love getting out of the house, my kids need free, unstructured time in the summer, too. A good rhythm for us is to get out in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then come home for a quiet afternoon of free play. Being active does not mean entertaining your kids 24/7. A good balance of structure and free time helps everyone have a fun, organized, and relaxing summer break.

What do you have for a stay at home mom guide for summer?

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Category: Family Free Time

Tags: boredom