Back to Blog

School's Out For Summer - Will You Survive or Thrive?

By: Megan Trask + Cody Galloway - Co-Founders of TULA Life Balanced

Navigating Summer Vacation with Kids: Survive or Thrive?

Summer vacation is a time eagerly awaited by both parents and kids alike. For parents, a much needed break from cramming activities and school into a day that simply doesn’t contain enough hours and a break from the weekly school emails adding even more to your TO-DO list, for kiddos, a break from homework and early wake up times. However, for parents, the prospect of keeping kids entertained and maintaining some semblance of order can be overwhelming. Add in trying to navigate camp registration mayhem that rivals getting tickets to Taylor Swift, only to then have to put all of those moving pieces into one streamlined and efficient calendar, well, it’s a lot… and frankly doesn’t always feel like that much of a break! Ensure your family thrives this summer (not just survives) with the helpful tips below.

The Power of Routines

During the school year, kids thrive on the structure provided by their daily routines. Summer vacation disrupts this structure, potentially leading to restlessness and boredom. I think it’s safe to say hearing “I’m bored” from your kids can be triggering. Establishing a summer routine can help maintain a sense of stability, ensuring kids have a framework for their days. The routine doesn’t have to be set in stone but a consistent jumping off point can set each day up for success.

While routines offer structure, it's important to strike a balance between flexibility and consistency. Summer vacation allows for a more relaxed schedule, so embrace the opportunity to incorporate new activities and experiences into the routine. Having a free hour each day can go a long way, building in flexibility and giving room for everyone to take a beat, or to come up with something spontaneous. Built in quiet time, even if just an hour after lunch to read, rest, and find some space is a great option and a great opportunity for a reset ahead of the afternoon. 

Creating a Summer Routine

Start and end each day with consistent rituals. Set a wake-up time, have a nutritious breakfast together, and plan some light chores or quiet activities in the morning. Similarly, establish a bedtime routine to ensure kids get enough rest for the next day's adventures. Maintaining shower/bath routines is key as well. The more these routines stay somewhat similar to the school year, the less adjustment and struggles you’ll have getting back into the swing of things in the fall. 

Divide the day into structured time blocks to include various activities. This can include dedicated time for learning, outdoor play, creative activities, quiet time, and family time. Setting aside specific times for different activities provides a sense of consistency as well as regular scenery changes. Having these blocks doesn’t mean you have to have activities to fill every minute, filling the time can be a tremendous amount of work and coordination. Pro-tip: get kids some ownership over how to fill the time via a weekly family meeting to plan the upcoming week. Less mental load for parents, more engagement from kids =  win-win.

Maintain regular meal time schedules to promote healthy eating habits. Involving kids in meal preparation can also be a fun and educational activity. Meal planning can be a lot even when parents aren’t having to plan 3 meals a day plus snacks but giving your kids an opportunity to contribute to the meal plan is a great way to lighten the load whether that’s letting each child plan a certain day of the week or if your kids are older, even giving them a meal to prepare during the week. Tired of hearing “I don’t like that”? Have everyone put their favorite meals in a jar so you can just grab and plug them in, depersonalizing the choice and hopefully minimizing disagreements.

Engaging Activities for Summer

Make the most of the warm weather by engaging in outdoor activities. Like recess, but different! Plan family hikes, picnics, or visits to local parks. Encouraging kids to explore nature, go for bike rides, take ownership over daily dog walks, play in the water, a classic slip n’ slide or water fight is a great way to get outside and enjoy the sun all while staying cool. This block is a must for everyone’s sanity. If there are struggles to decide what to do using the same meal option trick works well, for some reason drawing a meal or activity out of a jar adds an element of surprise that overcomes complaints…hopefully!

Summer vacation doesn't mean learning should take a backseat. Make a bucket list of local museums, libraries, or science centers. Game nights for some quality non-screen time that also keep minds sharp. You’ve heard of chore charts but reading charts in the summer are a great option, too. A throwback to Pizza Hut Book-It, anyone? I’m an especially huge fan of journaling to capture the day and highly suggest making a point to capture some gratitude, whether in the journal or around the table during a meal. Making this a morning routine or a before bed routine is a great way to ensure consistency and starting or ending the day with positives!

Set up a designated art area at home where kids can paint, draw, or engage in crafts. Encourage them to write stories, perform skits, or learn a musical instrument. These activities not only foster creativity but also boost self-confidence. We say the mess is worth it… mostly, unless slime is involved!

Summer vacation is an excellent time to get involved in community activities. Seek out local events, volunteer opportunities, or summer camps that align with your child's interests. Engaging with the community promotes social skills, empathy, and a sense of belonging.

And... finally some time to get away without missing school. Vacations are an amazing way to make those core memories but sometimes getting away for an extended time period isn't possible. Staycations can offer just as much adventure as a trip requiring a flight or long road trip. Also less stress! Find a hotel with a fun pool for a night, have everyone look for options within 2-3 hours and then vote as a family, or,  a backyard camp out can be just as much fun! Get creative, get buy in from everyone, and get ready for some fun!

When it’s too Much

We live in a world of doing it all at all costs and the reality is we need to shift that narrative. Asking for help is okay. Taking a break is okay. Not doing everything on your list is okay. Need a quick self-care moment or errands sans kids? Form a baby-sitting co-op. Babysitters are saviors, but they also come at a cost and can be hard to find. One solution is to form a co-op with friends or neighbors. Most systems use tokens or points to track hours, like this one. Save yours up for a big night out - or even an overnight trip! 

Reading this and still wondering where you’ll find all the time? We get it, we highly recommend checking out TULA, your personal assistant and/or personal chef at the touch of a button ready to take over your to-do list so you can focus on the fun! 

Survive or Thrive?

There will be days, even hours, where it feels like you’re doing both in equal and sometimes less than equal parts, and that’s okay! Navigating summer vacation with kids can be a joyful and rewarding experience when approached with the right mindset but it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed, too. Give yourself a break, give your kids a break. Giving grace, leaning into flexibility, and shooting for a bit of balance will serve everyone well and make for a summer of fun and memories!