Summer is a traveling time for us. This is my husband's last week of a set schedule at work so we will be off to visit his family in Canada, take trips to my parents at the shore, work at a camp for 2 weeks in VA, and try to hang out at Eastern's pool as much as possible! And we hope to add sight-seeing around Philadelphia, lots of hiking and a camping trip or two. By the end, we are happy and relaxed but tired and definitely ready for our normal routine to start up again.
I'm trying to plan now how to make all of these different schedules and travels work well for our little ones. We are definitely a family that appreciates structure and while I look forward to the variety, there are certain things that help to keep us sane.
I hope to still maintaining a sense of rhythm despite the fact that we may be in a different place or with different people. Some great advice that has stuck with me from last summer is a post from Kerry over at A Ten O'Clock Scholar with 5 Steps for establishing a summer routine.
Her main recommendation is to "Decide on the big rocks of our daily life. Plan for these and let them be the "anchors" of our day."
For our children, a biggie is sleep. I try not to let them miss their nap or stay up too late too many days in a row. They've never been kids who catch up on sleep by sleeping in. So I'm willing to read lots of stories, bring sound machines, and hang towels over windows in a hotel room to make it right for sleeping. Even if it means missing out on a few extra adventures. Now that my daughter is pretty much done napping, I'm still going to try to have her rest and read each day.
The second is to maintain regular meal and snack times whether at the beach, in the mountains or at home. I notice my little ones and I wither quickly otherwise.
The third is Book Time when my kids wake up in the mornings and from their afternoon nap. They so often wake up groggy, so some juice and a stack of books help them adjust back to the real world rather than hitting the floor running again.
I also really like how Kerry recommends providing visual cues for the day and so I'm creating a chart like the one she made here. I think my children will really respond to her suggestion of providing good transition habits, especially by creating a mood with light and music!
So what do you think? I'd love to hear what you do in the summer to keep kids happy in the midst of a more laid-back schedule and travel. How do you keep your sanity during the summer months? How do you help your children cope with travels?
I'll post soon on what we do to keep them happy on long car trips! We had a 7-hour car trip last summer with a 3 yr old and a 2 yr old that we managed to do with no movies thanks to the great idea from my Heather. But we are desperately looking to borrow a DVD player for the 4 hour plane ride, long lines at customs, and then 2 hours of driving on the trip to Alberta!