Summer Days Survival Guide


“The days are long but the years are short.”

A friend wrote that phrase in a note to me shortly after I had my first baby. It was an excellent way to encourage me while I was in the newborn trenches.

But what that friend could not have predicted eight years ago was just how long those days would feel now. In the midst of a pandemic. (Can I get a witness?)

I’ve been struggling to find a good balance to keep my kids entertained these days, and not just by screens all. the. time. At the start of summer, I ambitiously sat down and created a loose daily schedule and a loose weekly schedule for us. I say “loose” because we’ve followed them maybe once. 

Most summers, we fill our weeks with trips to the zoo, VBS, and music camps. But not this year. Mama is tired. She was tired when summer began and she’s especially tired now. 

But, despite being tired, I’ve needed to find ways to keep my children entertained. Here are a few things we’ve found to help our days feel a little less long. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. 

Read for at Least 30 Minutes a Day

My eight-year-old is a voracious reader and reads without prompting. My six-year-old just started reading and because it’s so much work for him, he does not naturally gravitate toward books. He is motivated by charts however, and this has prompted him to go off with a timer and a stack of Elephant and Piggie books (here are some charts, in case you’d like to try this as well). Both of them also love to be read to. So we’ve been working our way through the Sideways Stories from Wayside School series. Looking for more motivation? Check out the summer reading programs around Columbia

Have Some Outside Play Dates

We have been filling up our kiddie pool and water table, turning on the sprinkler, and inviting friends to join. We’ve also been meeting up with friends to ride bikes and scooters. It’s easier to maintain social distancing when wheels and squirt guns are involved.

Create a Summer Bucket List Together

At the start of summer, we created a summer bucket list as a family. It includes things like tie dye something and play at a new park. There are so many possibilities! Here’s another list of ideas for those staying home, created by suggestions from kids (with a free printable). 

Write Letters to Friends and Family

My oldest daughter became pen pals with her great-grandma at the start of 2020. It has been sweet to see what they write to each other. Letters have also helped my kids feel more connected with their friends during this strange time. If your kids aren’t old enough to write a letter, have them draw pictures instead.

Bake Together

This is messy. This requires patience. But even if you’re just making a boxed mix of brownies, teach them some basic life skills and make something yummy to share together.

Label Your Days

My kids and I accidentally started labeling our days. It gives us something to do and something to look forward to. What do I mean when I say we “label our days”? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s simple and I have examples.

We have Movie Mondays: we pop popcorn and watch a movie while my one-year-old naps. Water Wednesday: we play in water somehow. Pop-tart Friday is exactly what it sounds like: we eat pop-tarts for breakfast and the kids talk about it all week long.

(Other ideas: Art days! Do a craft or tune into Art for Kids Hub. Music days! Put on some classical music and dance or draw how the music makes you feel. Or teach your kids to play an instrument that you know how to play.)

Take Time for You

The days are long and can feel demanding. If you’re anything like me, you are feeling stretched thin. Look for some ways to boost your own morale or catch your breath. That may mean hitting up Bojangles’ drive-thru for one of their $1 teas, or taking a nap while your kids are napping too. Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to help you through the day.

How do you fill these long summer days? 


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