Many summer days have been spent getting kids to sport camps, watching swim lessons and warm sticky nights at baseball fields. It can be fun watching the kids develop their skills, learning the concept of teamwork and sharing giggles as tee-ball coaches encourage the kids to stop picking dandelions and keep their eye on the ball!
Summertime…and the living is easy
While I love the sentiment of that lyric, for most parents summer is simply a change of activities. Instead of school schedules, homework and concerts, our calendars are now filled with swim lessons, baseball games, practices, and camp dates. In addition, we want our kids to keep their reading and math skills sharp so we add in library reading programs and activities. When adding all this up, it sounds less like the relaxing summer days we envisioned for ourselves and more like…
“Mom, I can’t find my swimsuit!” “Did I tell you we are supposed to bring team snack today?” “Have you seen my cleats?”
Does that sound more like summer to you? There is good news! You CAN put an end to these questions, here’s how…
5 Step Plan for an Easier ‘Out the Door’ Experience:
1. Update Calendar: Have your child put their practices and game times on an easily accessible family calendar. This will help them be familiar with the schedule so it’s no surprise when it’s time to get to practice! TIP: Color code these for each child so at a quick glance the kids can see the time of their next activity.
2. Items Needed: Have your child begin a list of, or gather, all items they’ll need for their activity. You may need to brainstorm with them to complete the list. (i.e., if packing for camp you may ask, “What will you need for rainy camp days?”) TIP: Keep this list near the family calendar if possible for easy reference.
3. Storage: Ask your child, “How can we keep your equipment organized and ready to grab for games and practices?” Have one spot for the kids to dump their stuff. Kids will come up with creative ideas if you let them! It may be a duffle bag for sports equipment or a backpack for the swim lesson necessities. Make sure it is packed the night before and ready to go! TIP: Get your kids in the habit of airing out any equipment that gets sweaty before your house begins to smell like their sport.
4. Checklist: Have your child create an “Out the Door” checklist and make it their responsibility to check it. What goes on this list? Everything they may need! (i.e., swim goggles, towels, sunscreen) You only have one question to ask: “Do you have everything on your list?” TIP: Relax. If you arrive and the child has no towel to wrap up in, they will experience a natural consequence (having to stay wet) and be more likely to remember it for next time!
Last, but not least…
5. Snacks: Have grab-and-go snacks packed in the fridge and accessible for the kids. Your kids can help you wash and bag their favorite snacks (baby carrots, grapes, orange slices) then grab a healthy snack to eat as you drive to lessons or practice. TIP: Let your kids help prep the snacks. They’ll be more likely to grab the healthier options when they’ve spent time getting them ready. When you take the time to implement these 5 steps to help make getting out the door a little easier, you’ll notice your kids take on more responsibility and begin to be a little more organized.
BONUS: Once the plan has been put into place and fine-tuned to fit your family, you’ll easily transition these ideas to the school year too!
Remember: The summer season offers teachable opportunities for two very important issues: responsibility and organization. It allows time for you to implement a plan and practice it so when the school year starts you won’t be hearing “Dad, where did I leave my homework?” because they’ll already know where it is. Now that you have a strategies for a less stressful summer, grab the sunscreen and enjoy the days ahead!
Happy Summer from the Dare to Parent Team!