signs that summer break is here

School was out last week.

Summer break is here.

We have no big plans. A lot of nothing everyday. Just the way I like it.

Lots of hanging out at the kitchen table.

Lots of pretend picnics in the playhouse.

Lots of water fights and sneaking sips of my sweet tea.

Lots of sneaking sips from the hose when I won’t share my sweet tea.

And lots of little plans and schedules. I’ve learned the hard way that our unstructured summers need some structure for us to really enjoy them. Too much of nothing easily leads to quarrels and complaining around here. With summer upon us, I need a game plan. We’ll do a Meg inspired Summer Fun list. But I need little things planned out too…normal things like lunch and dinner.

So, I began this week with a plan. Every lunch and dinner menu is written out and shopped for ahead of time (no last minute trips to the store with four kids). I’ve also planned some kind of small craft or activity for each day. Summer Camp Campbell style. I pulled out several old magazines to get ideas. I’m all for pinterest, but sitting at the picnic table with an electronic device just is not as relaxing as flipping through magazines for me. (I’m only planning one week ahead…not the whole summer at once)

The kids jumped in and pointed out what they’d like to do too.

We have four crafts planned this week. I’m talking simple crafts…everything already on hand. They’ll probably only take 15 minutes each, but it will help have some structure to our days. And…it will help me be more intentional with all this free time.

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  • Kathryn - I need to do this, I have a couple more weeks to prepare. We usually try for one “field trip” a week as well.

  • lindsey - oooh! you will have to share any that you really liked! I’m trying to plan some crafts for mine this summer as well. I only have one and she’s firecracker’s age! and magazines at a picnic table is much more my style as well! I refuse to by a kindle, nook, etc. because I still like to shop for and hold a new book!

  • N - I can’t believe summer has already started for you! Enjoy!

  • Suzanne - You are so right – when my family gets left to its own devices, it usually ends in bickering kids and upset mom. We are trying to figure out a schedule that is more of a framework for our day – just to give it some structure/routine. We are make a summer list a la Meg, and I am going to try a “craft thursday” type of thing on one day of the week. I don’t think I will make it everyday – I would use up all my ideas in two weeks tops! I like Kathryn’s one field trip a week idea too!

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - We do a summer list and a separate craft list. It is a ton of fun seeing my three girls get excited about adding something to the list. I really only plan dinners, but when it comes to summer, I just have in minds what they like to eat. We are pickers and grazers in my house, so little meals all day long. I am so excited for summer. My kids are out Friday!

  • Kristy - I would love for you to share your crafts as I need some ideas!

  • BeckyH in MA - I sent you a huge summer “I’m Bored” list awhile back. TONS of stuff to do.

    Our school doesn’t get out until JUNE 25th! UGH! I’m counting down the days. We are planning lots of hikes and geocaching! 🙂 🙂

    Have fun!

  • Jessica R - I have implemented a weekly rhythm to give us some structure without adhering to a strict schedule. Inspiration from here: (not my blog). It has really helped me to give each day a purpose without the stress of having something to accomplish every hour!

  • Kelly - My boys finished up school yesterday (we homeschool and they worked so hard to get school done way ahead of schedule! yay!). I promised them one week of doing absolutely nothing and then we’ll go back to a little structure. My middle boy said he’s going to watch TV all day today. Our TV is hardly ever on so it’ll be interesting to see if he really does it 🙂 Happy Summer to you!

  • tracy - What is the Kids! Magazine that is on the table? It looks like it has some good stuff in it. Pinterest is great but nothing beats a stack of magazines. 🙂

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - One of my favorite things about your summer posts over the years, has been watching your kids play with water and “just be kids.” 😉 Are you doing any gardening this year?

  • Emily - I know the feeling… with my newest little one born, we have run into this even before summer… ( my oldest is 4).
    We are going to try to get a head start on kindergarten things and going to try some “homeschool” K things and crafts. I also have planned to do something on our to do list once a week!
    Don’t know if you like them like I do, but I just found out that McAllisters can make Arnold Palmers (half lemonade half tea). I was pretty excited, so I had to pass it on! I recognized that cup and straw! :))

  • Ari - I would love to know your crafts for the week….I need inspiration!

  • Julie - We made a list similar to that one last summer (but did our own things). I try to plan one thing to “do” every day too or we get bored – even if it’s just the grocery shopping or gymnastics. If you find good crafts please post! I know I’ll be hitting up the dollar bins at Joanns too. 😉

  • Alice H - Do you send your kids to VBS? That is a week worth of structured time! LOL! I love Firecracker’s bathing suit!

  • Jenni - I think a simple plan is the way to go in the summer. Can you tell me where you got ‘firecracker’s’ swimsuit? My almost 3 yr old is pretty particular about swimsuits not being too tight. This looks perfect. Praying that the anxiety of waiting for your sweet song won’t consume you. Come on Chinese officials get some papers moving!

  • tracy a - School’s out already? Wow, we don’t let out until the last week of June!

  • Hannah - I found your blog on Pinterest. I was looking for summer props to use in some of our photo sessions. As I was looking at your summer pictures I saw the word China, so I had to read the whole thing. To my surprise it said that y’all were adopting. China and adopting is something so close to my heart. My sister went the past 2 summers to work in an orphanage and I was lucky enough to go the 2nd time around. While Katie was there the first time she sent a picture back of the cutest little albino boy! He won our families hearts over. He is now at home with us. I know all about the whole adoption thing and the patience you have to have. I would love to talk to you more about it if that is ok with you! I am so excited for you and your family! Congratulations!!!!

  • Megan - Sounds wonderful to me! Our school is out next week. I’m looking forward to not having to push them out the door. These past few weeks have been hard for them to go to sleep and get up. I agree that too much free time = problems. I love how your kids play together so well. My kids are too far apart and have their own friends leaving my littlest alone most of the day. I’m sure that they would all like a little structure.

  • Emily - I’m with you: pinterest is awesome and has its place, but flipping through a magazine with some sweet tea is far superior. Especially when the weather is nice and the days are lazy.

  • meg duerksen - YAY!!!
    great call on the MS kids.
    i am going to go dig mine out today!
    i miss little ones.
    a LOT.
    lets switch houses.

  • Louise Fortune - WOW summer break already – the kids in the UK don’t finish until JULY 20th.

    I am so totally ready for our summer xx

  • Katie - Last year on our weeks without trips or VBS we started: Make something Monday (crafts, etc), Time to read Tuesday (weekly trip to the library), What’s cooking Wednesday (bake or make something fun), Thoughtful Thursday (making something for someone else, or other service project), Fun Friday (zoo, beach, museum, movie). Sometimes it works other times you do fun Friday on Tuesday, but it was nice to have a little schedule.
    Happy Summer!

  • Abigail - That scheduling is a really great idea! I bet your summer days will feel longer, more fun, and more refreshing as a result!

  • Mara - Sounds wonderful! I would love to hear about your craft projects – particularly any you really liked! I love simple crafts with kids.

  • Sarah Whitworth - I love reading your blog and do so regularly, but rarely comment. My kids are a good bit older than yours so our summer plans look a different. I wanted to suggest another summer activity: the public library. I am a children’s librarian and we offer a great summer reading program. I’m sure that the library in your locale would do the same. Our program includes an independent reading program, classes for every age group and special events for the whole family. Just a thought for another purposeful way to spend the summer.

  • Hannah - So I was looking for some props on pinterest and stumbled upon your blog. As I was looking the word China caught my eye, so I had to read your blog. I found out that you are adopting and it just melted my heart! My family and I have a huge heart for China. My sister went the past 2 summers to work in an orphanage and I was lucky enough to join this past summer. It was a trip of a lifetime! She is now living there working to get an orphanage that is not open to adoption up to code to start getting those kids adopted. Also when my sister was there the first summer she sent us some pictures of this super adorable little boy. Needless to say we all feel in love and he is part of our family now! I would love to hear some more about your adoption if you are willing to email.

  • Stephanie - I so wish that Martha Stewart Kid’s magazine was still around–I saved my copies too!

  • Shannon Phillips - I love it! I have been soaking up the summer fun with my littles too.
    I see hair cuts have been a part of your days as well. 😉

  • AshleyAnn - Sarah – we are big fans of the summer reading program at our local library! Thank you for all you do for kids as children’s librarian!!

  • Melissa - Sounds like you guys are going to have a great summer!! And I totally agree about wanting to flip thru a magazine outside rather than internet surfing ;o)

  • julianna - Oh how I miss Martha Stewart Kids, the best of all her magazines in my opinion. Bring it Back!!!

  • Jeannette - I want to come to Campbell Camp!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ok, I’ll be there Monday 🙂 What is our craft? (I wish!)

  • Jen Daily - So far my attempts at a summer “schedule” are coming up short. My five-year-old wanted to take an art class, but by the time I got around to signing him up for it, it was full. So I’d like to set up some art projects for him at home, and will be excited to see what your family is up to.

    As for scheduling, we will try to do one get-in-the-car outing in the morning, followed by an easy trip to the park or activity at home in the afternoon. I’m currently making up a list of what those outings/activities might be, and will let the kids choose from there.

  • Bon @ A Golden Afternoon - Those Martha mags are solid gold around our house. I like to hide them away and surprise myself with them from time to time. Weird? Maybe. I could pretend they’re for my kids, but really…moi. That picture of Firecracker drinking is perfection!

  • Kathryn - If you need some more ideas is doing an “operation summer” program. They email you a plan at the beginning of each week outlining activities to do with your children. And it’s FREE! (I promise I don’t work for them, just excited about the program! 🙂

  • cassi - I am with you. I love the Kindle and phone, etc.. but sitting on the porch with a magazine is so much more relaxing for some reason

  • Elizabeth - ohh THANK YOU for sharing this!! i MUST get my summer “schedule” together…you’re SO right…too many kiddos w/ “nothing” to do=
    petty quarreling. feel free to share your ideas!!

  • Kelly - I so wish I had bought those Martha Stewart Kids magazines when they were still being published. So fun. I did score a mini craft addition I think it was at a garage sale in Sitka, AK of all places a couple summers ago. Looks like a great summer plan! I am hoping for some restful at home days too. Kelly