How To Make & Keep Summer Routines That Save Your Sanity


Summer is approaching fast, and before you know it, school will be out for the season. It’s time to make a plan for the months ahead, but you might be wondering – how do I create a summer routine? What are typical summer activities my family can enjoy together? Keep reading for tips and ideas to help you make the most of the season ahead.

The end of school and the start of summer can feel like the wild west. No rules, no routine – just absolute chaos, and more stress than you’d like to deal with. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

By making a thoughtful plan and creating a routine your family can easily follow, you can bring a sense of order and calm to your days. You can make your summer manageable – and a ton of fun! You can avoid the dreaded mantra of, “Mom, I’m bored.” And you can make memories together that’ll last a lifetime – while preserving your sanity. 

In fact, we have a Change Your Habits Guided Workbook that will help you put everything you learn in this post into practice – any time of year!

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Why is it important to create a summer routine?

A summer routine is the key to a smooth, conflict-free season. But why are routines so helpful? Here are a few ways you’ll benefit from creating a summer routine for your family:

Cut down on complaints and questions.

Many kids thrive in routine environments – and struggle to navigate situations that don’t align with their expectations. By setting those expectations and creating a routine that your family can follow each day, you minimize complaints and questions.

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Create a sense of independence. 

Think about the start of the school year. For some kids, the change in routine is scary and overwhelming. They don’t know what to do, and they cling to their parents for comfort and guidance.

A few weeks into the school year? They’re confidently jumping on the school bus or walking into the classroom because they know what to do. They feel empowered, self-assured, and independent.

By creating a routine during the summer months that you can follow at home, you’ll reinforce that mindset of independence. Instead of constantly questioning what’s happening next, your child will know what to do. 

Preserve your sanity.

Knowing how you’re going to navigate each day isn’t just key for your child – it’s a life-saver for parents. You don’t have to come up with new plans and exciting activities each and every day, which takes time and energy. You’ve got enough on your plate. 

By setting up a general framework for how you’ll navigate each day, you take a ton of stress off of your plate and make it easier for everyone – yourself included – to navigate the day.  

Pro Tip: Make your wellbeing a priority this summer with the Clutter Keeper Health and Fitness Planner! From exercise and meal planners to tools to support your mental wellness, you’ll have everything you need to thrive.

Why is it so hard to create a summer routine? 

Coming up with a summer routine that works is easier said than done – and it’s easy to see why.

During the school year, falling into a regular routine is almost effortless. Kids are on a strict schedule when it comes to school and navigate each day in the same way. After school activities and extracurriculars often take place like clockwork – same time, same place. Even weekends can feel routine with recurring obligations like soccer games, church, or family get-togethers. 

But during the summer, all bets are off.

Without school in session, it’s easy to let little ones sleep in – and stay up later than intended. If you work full-time, you have to figure out new plans for childcare, whether that involves camp, a nanny, or help from friends and family. There’s more time to socialize with friends – and more time to plan a vacation or two! 

How do I create a summer routine that works for my family?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a summer routine. It’s all about finding something that works for you and your family. That being said, there are a few steps you can take to create an effective summer routine that’ll keep everyone happy – and on a schedule. 

Start your routine as soon as the school year ends.

While it might be tempting to let your little ones truly relax for a couple of weeks, abandoning all sense of routine for any period of time will make it much harder to get back into the swing of things.

If you let them, your kids will quickly get used to sleeping until ten in the morning, or snacking on whatever they’d like throughout the day, or staying up well past their bedtime. And when you try to restore order? You’ll definitely feel some resistance.

Instead, set clear expectations for the summer season upfront – and put them into effect right away. You don’t have to go crazy and over-engineer a complicated routine, but by structuring your day, you can make it easier on everyone. 

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Make a list of chores!

With no school or homework occupying their time, summer can be a great opportunity to teach your little ones about the importance of helping out with chores – and let them get a little practice!

Come up with a list of age-appropriate chores that your kids can help you with. Make it even more fun by implementing a chore chart or some other system that’ll track their progress and celebrate their accomplishments. 

Limit screen time.

With so much spare time on your hands, it can be difficult to fill the hours with engaging activities – and all too easy to allow your kids to spend their days staring at screens. While there’s nothing wrong with a little screen time, it certainly shouldn’t make up the majority of their day. 

By setting and enforcing clear limits to screen time at the start of the summer, and having plenty of alternatives to suggest when your little one fights back, you can minimize conflict and keep everyone happy. 

Don’t be afraid to be flexible. 

Your routine should be structured enough to follow – but not so rigid that you can’t break away from it when an opportunity arises. Leave a little wiggle room for impromptu trips to the zoo, an unexpected afternoon outing with friends, or sleepovers. 

That’s why we created a Printable Meal Planner. You can use a pencil and have a plan just in case but also have the ability to erase it all and do something different!

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What are typical summer activities to incorporate into my child’s routine?

Not sure what you should prioritize in your summer routine? Depending on where you live and what your schedule looks like, the opportunities are endless. However, here are a few key elements to consider:

  • Meals. Setting a specific time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be a great way to create a framework for your day. And since most kids (and adults!) get cranky when they don’t eat at the same time each day, structuring your mealtimes will help keep everyone’s mood up – and hunger at bay.
  • Naps. Is your little one young enough to enjoy an afternoon nap? Make sleep a priority and carve out time each day to get some rest. 
  • Learning and enrichment. Even though your child may not be in a formal classroom, there’s still plenty to learn over the summer months. Whether you’re enjoying an age-appropriate STEM activity at home, reading a book, or venturing out in the world for some hands-on learning, make time each day to expand your little one’s mind and expand their knowledge of the world. 
  • Physical activity. Getting some exercise is a great way to burn off some energy and develop healthy habits. Run around in the backyard, dance in the living room, bike to the park, play soccer with friends – there’s no wrong way to make it happen, as long as you’re having fun!

Summer routines are just as important when you take a road trip as when you stay home. If you’re planning a road trip this summer, our Road Trip Planner has all the checklists and info you need so you stay organized.

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Struggling to get motivated? Sign up to get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret, and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!

More Summer Routine tips

If you enjoyed learning about how to make a successful summer routine for your family, then here are some more tips that you’ll enjoy next:

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