This post on a Flexible Summer Routine is a little off-topic considering my typical spiritual content! But let me tell ya, this checklist of self-led activities has been my sanity saver the last few years! As I’ve shared in other posts, we manage our son’s ADHD and other diagnoses with natural means such as lifestyle choices and supplements.
Creating a little structure is so important as it allows us to stick with a natural approach. Over the summer, it also helps me stay in tune spiritually, continue to study and write here on the blog while also building in lots of playtime. Because grown ups need summer, too!
We are always excited about a break from the school routine, but this momma knows the ongoing, intrusive patterns of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness that define ADHD can make even fun changes difficult. These tips for creating a flexible summer routine will get you ready to soak up the season, regardless of your kiddos’ attention span!
Keep reading for tips on how to replace the structure of school with a relaxed summer routine. I’ve included a link for my easy to follow Summer Routine checklist at the end of this article. It promises all sanity fully restored!
1. Create a summer Routine
Giving kids a summer routine builds predictability and keeps things from feeling chaotic. Summers don’t have to be tediously scheduled on a strict timeline. Routine can be as simple as repeating a set of activities during a similar time frame each day. Having kids perform self-led tasks lets them know what to expect, while also building self-confidence.
Unfortunately, it is common for kids with ADHD to be corrected and reprimanded quite often at school and at home. Following a set list of To Do’s may not get their immediate buy in, but it does build confidence in their ability to initiate a task and see it through to completion. Once the list is done, kids earn screen time or you move on as you see fit for the day. This isn’t meant to provide busy work, but more so the much-needed predictability and healthy boundaries.
We use the Summer Days Checklist (link below) to set up this self-led routine. It includes basics like eating breakfast and getting dressed, as well as Contributions, the jobs they do because they are a part of the family, and Commissions, those jobs they do for pay.
We also include daily meditation and affirmations.
Meditation has many benefits including improving focus and fighting anxiety. It can be done with the help of various apps and YouTube videos. You may also want to introduce meditation with simple breathing exercises you do along with your child. Practicing these now will be helpful when your child returns to school and faces inevitable annoyances as they begin the new year. They can do these exercises discreetly at their desk to calm down, refocus and self-regulate.
Box Breathing is an easy to follow exercise. It is especially easy if you trace a box shape in a clockwise motion as you breathe slowly. This kinetic action is especially good for busy brains as it gives physical activity along with a mental focus. This technique can be done by drawing or picturing a square, then tracing the shape with their finger.
- Begin by breathing in for 2 counts as you trace the top line, left to right.
- Hold the breath in for 2 counts as you follow the right-side line in a downward motion.
- Exhale for 2 counts as you trace the bottom line, right to left.
- Hold for 2 counts as you trace the left side in an upwards motion.
Once they get the pattern down, increase the counts from 2 to 4 for each inhalation, exhalation and holding period.
Just a minute or two is all it takes to feel more calm and focused. It may help to trace the shape with your child the first few rounds. Eventually, this can be performed with little to no guidance.
Affirmations can feel silly at first. Try this though:
Think about how many messages our kids get each day from peers, teachers and various media outlets.
how they should look,
who they should admire,
what to believe about themselves and others,
what they should prioritize and change about themselves,
who and what holds value,
and what success looks like.
Affirmations override those messages by having kids speak what they know to be true about themselves each day! Create printed affirmations for your child to read out loud or call them out one by one and have them repeat each back to you. You might also alternate between the two methods. Use things you want your child to remember and be proud of, as well as things they need to work on. Make each statement as though it is already true.
Here are some we use:
- I am happy.
- I am healty.
- I am strong in my mind, body and spirit.
- I am brave.
- I use my words to stand up for myself and others.
- I am kind.
- I deserve kindness.
- I’m a good student.
- I am loved.
- I love others.
Some of these things are already accomplished. Some are works in progress!
You can also include items that reinforce your specific faith. We wrap ours up each day with, “I can do all these things AND MORE through Christ who gives me strength. No one. No thing. No decision I make. No place I go. Nothing can separate me from God’s love!”
2. keep your summer routine active
Get moving! — Exercise improves mood and builds attention! Be sure to include physical activity in your routine.
Stay sharp! – Our daily checklist includes a “Skills Lab”, which is far less involved than it sounds! It is simply a worksheet or use of an educational app or website to keep their skills fresh. I also use them to work on something that needs more practice going into the next school year. Keep these short to prevent burn out!
Get creative! – Build or create something each day. Lego creations, artwork, gardening, cooking, writing a song or poem, crafting origami, performing a skit, perfecting a magic trick, filming and editing video, the options are limitless!
Explore! – Make a list of fun things to do, getting input from the kids. You may want to include some very-easy-on-you-the-organizer STEM activities, exploration of parks and nearby towns, short day trips, museum visits, kitchen activities; anything you can do more easily now without the demands of school.
Use the kids’ suggestions as positive incentives and aim for checking one or two off a week. It is also fun to use these as occasional swaps for items on the Summer Days Checklist. As in, “Guys, today we’re gonna skip journaling and skills lab and replace it with SUPER FUN LIST ITEM YOU SUGGESTED!”. Use jazz hands for appropriate affect!
These swaps are fun, but also provide a very teachable moment. Kids with ADHD and the frequently comorbid conditions of OCD or Anxiety may not handle unexpected change gracefully. Acknowledging the swap confirms you haven’t forgotten or done away with the summer routine, but that this is a deliberate exchange. It also lets kids see that a change in plans or doing the unexpected can be pretty awesome!
3. make health a part of your summer routine
Food choices, staying on track with supplements or medication and getting enough sleep all work together to keep your child feeling their best. It may take practice getting each of these to line up while on the beautifully relaxed schedule of summer. Give yourself some grace and take it day by day. Take note when things work well and when they don’t. Ask yourself what variables affected the outcome and adjust accordingly.
Pulling it all together with the Summer routine checklist!
I’ve created an easy to follow, simple checklist that covers all the bases for your relaxed summer routine!
This Summer Days Checklist serves two purposes!
First, it ensures self-led routine which builds confidence.
Second, we only allow screen time when all items have been completed.
Limiting the amount of time they’re “plugged in”, building skills, and boosting confidence is a WIN/WIN/WIN!
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Using the Summer Days Checklist w kids is a sanity saver! Vary the required items daily or require every item every day. Coming back to the Checklist & planning the day with you can be the very thing that makes it routine & builds confidence! #ADHD” quote=”Using the Summer Days Checklist for a flexible routine can be a sanity saver for parents! How you use it is up to you. Vary which items you require each day or require every item every day. Coming back to the Checklist and planning out the day with you can be the very thing that makes it routine!”]
Happy Summer, friends! I hope you’ll share your summer sanity savers with me and your fellow readers in the comment section!