My four kids will be home with me this summer (i.e., no formal camp programming), which is lovely for the relaxed pace, but also includes some coordination to keep track of everyone and build in some structure. I wanted to share some overarching strategies to simplify your life during the summer months. I find that these tips are essential both so you can enjoy time with your kids during the break and so that the time you do get to yourself (e.g., while the kids are engaged in other activities) is not spent entirely on household minutia!
1. Map it out
It's good to create a roadmap for the summer, whether you have no, some, or all of your weeks filled with summer programs and travel. Create a calendar that is easy for the entire family to access and map out daily activities, both to encourage structure and to save you on having to keep all of the plans in your head. If your kids will be at home all summer, pencil in special everyday activities, such as nature walks, writing letters, and day trips to local museums.
2. Swap play dates with parent friends
Swapping play dates with parents is fantastic because it's fun for the kids and gives parents time on their own. (Oh, and hey, it's FREE!) Try to build regular play date swaps into your weekly plan.
3. Simplify basic tasks
Less running around doing errands during your free time = good. For example, I keep a running list of household needs and once I reach a critical mass, will just order everything online (vs. doing a million runs to the drugstore).
4. Outsource errands online
In addition to shopping online, I'm also a fan of using the web for things like take-out delivery service, booking cleaning services, and general tasks too. YAY, INTERNET.
5. Have your kids be helpers
Quite often, I find myself attempting to do everything. If I simply remember to ask my kids to help -- for example, helping to plan and prepare a meal, take a younger sibling for a walk, plan family craft time -- everyone is willing to help if I remember to ask!
6. Bring in extra help if needed
Particularly if you have several kids going in different directions at the same time -- or if you simply need some extra time during the day for your own projects -- bring in extra help. If your usual date night sitters are not available, query your mom friends, or you can usually find intermittent sitter help via online babysitting sites.
I hope these tips are helpful! If you have other awesome ideas to share on how you simplify summer, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!