Set yourself and your family up for a successful and memorable summer using the power of routines!

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We’re all thinking it.

In between the excitement of no school and more freedom, we’re asking ourselves: “how do I manage it all without losing my mind??”

“It” being sibling fights, kids complaining of boredom, the constant snacking, laundry, meal planning, play dates and the overall memory making that we want summer to include.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that going into summer with a routine helps with a lot of the situations that come up–both positive and negative!

Let’s talk about how to set up a successful summer routine for kids

Set Expectations

Do you know what your kids are expecting their summer to be like? If you have younger kids, you probably have a lot more say in what their days look like and the activities they will participate in. But if you have older kids (preteen and up), they may have very different ideas of what they want to do in the summer. The best thing to do is talk about it. If you expect chores to be done before anything else (play dates, going out of the house, screen time, etc), then make sure everyone is on the same page.

Set A Routine

You may hear the word “routine” and think it means the same thing as a “schedule”. But they are actually very different. A schedule is more detailed, fixed and doesn’t allow for spontaneity. A routine is more of a framework. It is less rigid and allows for flexibility. Odds are, your summer needs a routine rather than a schedule.

Weekly/Daily Themes

One way to create a routine is to set up weekly and/or daily themes. Our family does it this way:

  • Monday – Movie Night
  • Tuesday – Take a Trip
  • Wednesday – Wonder or Water
  • Thursday – Baking or Craft
  • Friday – Friends

Having a set theme for the day helps us decide what we want to do at the beginning of each week. This doesn’t mean that the whole day is planned out based on the theme for the day. (You aren’t a cruise director after all.) But setting aside specific activities based on the day makes it easier to decide what to do. It allows for both routine and flexibility.

You can get our printable daily themes by entering your information below:


My friend Meg at The Many Little Joys also has a similar daily themed calendar but her themes are a little different. Feel free to check it out as well and see which one works better for your family!

Set Up Ahead of Time

A little bit of prep work goes a long way when it comes to summer. One question I try to ask myself is: “what can I do now to make my life easier later?” This question is applicable in so many different situations, including summer. It also helps reduce stress and save time.

Here are some suggestions for simple ways to set up ahead of time:

Summer Kick-Off Basket

Getting out of a school for the summer is already something our kids are excited about. But why not make it a little extra special by putting together a summer kick-off basket? You can give it to them when they come home from school and let them each pick out an activity to do that day.

You could put together individual buckets for your kids using cheap sand buckets. Or you could get a larger bucket or basket and combine it all into one big bucket of fun!

Here are some ideas of what you can include in your summer kick-off basket:

  • Water balloons
  • Bubbles
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Movie box candy
  • Popcorn
  • Sunglasses
  • Pool floaties
  • Soda
  • New swimsuits
  • Pool toys
  • Sand toys
  • Book
  • Beach ball

Bucket Lists

My kids absolutely love brainstorming what to put on our summer bucket list every year. Some years, it’s the same well-loved activities and events. Other years, we add new ideas. It’s always different and that’s part of what makes it so much fun!

Another reason I love bucket lists is because it’s so easy to pull activities from the list to do each week. Combine the bucket lists with the daily themes and your week practically plans itself out for you!

Here are three fun and different bucket list ideas for your family. To get the printable or learn more about each bucket list, click the links below:


Families tend to go through so much more food during the summer because more people are at home during the day. Somehow that translates to the kitchen and pantry being open 24/7 and before you know it, your grocery bill is a lot higher than you’d like.

To combat this, here are a few suggestions you can easily implement this summer:

  • Meal Planning
    • Make a list recipes you know your family likes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • Print out a basic monthly calendar and fill in the meals for each day.
    • Rotate through the same meals each month.
  • Snack Tray
    • Take some time each day, or every few days, to prep healthy snacks for your kids.
    • Use a snack tray with a lid and store it in the fridge.
    • When it’s snack time, pull it out for the kids to eat and refuel.
    • This is also great for when kids are hungry, but it’s not time for snacks or meals (see next point)
  • Dedicated Meal and Snack Times
    • Decide ahead of time when you’re going to let your kids snack during the day.
    • Let your kids know when it’s snack time.
    • Set a time range of about 30 minutes to allow for flexibility for if you are coming home from or going to an activity or event.
    • Choose a time range when you are going to serve meals (or let your kids get their own meals) and stick to it. For example, 8-9am for breakfast. After that time, they’ll have to wait for snack or meal time.

Low- and No-Prep Activities

In a previous post, I shared 8 easy low- and no-prep activities you can have ready to go for your kids. These are great for times when they are looking for some guidance or direction for their creativity to go towards. The activities cover a range of ages but all are easy to prepare ahead of time.

Another favorite tool of mine is our family’s “I’m Bored” Jar. It’s a great way to help kids find an activity they want to do but maybe can’t come up with without prompting.

I hope you feel more empowered to create summer routines for kids!


Hi! I’m Shani,

A stay-at-home mom of 4 and wife. I love sharing easy to follow craft tutorials, kid activities, family-friendly recipes, organization, travel and motherhood. I hope you’ll feel uplifted and empowered by each post, regardless of what kind it is. Join me as I raise my little munchkins and share the sunshine in this beautiful, crazy thing called life! Read more...

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