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Secrets You Need to Know for a Free + Functional Summer Routine

Summer has arrived and the summer routine has set in! Popsicles have taken up permanent residence in the freezer, towels are always drying on the deck, and sweeping up sand is now a daily chore. Pretty awesome, right?

Pretty awesome until the fighting and boredom and general mindless wandering sets in.

Summer routine? Should it just be a free for all for a season? I sort of think it should be both. Here's our free + functional summer routine.

Summer routine should include a good chunk of free-for-all space that allows everybody to just chill and to explore things and let their hearts beat a little slower. But with everything, there needs to be some balance.

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After a little over a month now of straight free-for-all, it’s time to balance that with a little structure.

Summer Routine: Balance the Fun + Function

I love summer and I love the change of seasons. And frankly, I don’t want summer to feel super structured like the rest of the year does when we have to get up for school and other activities. I want to allow my kids to sleep in and play outside and only come in for meals. But I know when things get too loose, everyone gets a little lost. They’re not quite sure what to do next so they default to asking for movies or games.

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I want to keep checking off the fun stuff in a systematic way. AND I definitely want to get on our bikes, get to the lake, and do something that we don’t get to do in the other seasons each week.

I sat down and sketched out a plan, weekly and daily. Here’s the breakdown.

Summer is the time to let loose, but having some routine is always best for our family. Is there a balance between routine and the free for all of summer that is so much fun?? Yes, I think there is. Here's how we are balancing our summer routine.

Weekly Routine

Each Sunday, I’ve been sitting down with  my planner and a notebook. I sketch out a plan for the week. I know that each week I want to accomplish a few things…

  • 1 lake day–my kids love the lake, it’s so close I really have no excuse to not go, and I love it too!
  • 1 trip to the library for new books
  • Pick 1 or 2 projects or activities like fishing or an art project
  • And/or 1 “field trip” from our list, like berry picking or mini golfing
  • 2 “at HOME” days…I realized that if we are running around every single day, we are way out of balance and things easily spin out of control on the homestead front. Laundry starts to pile up, things get too cluttered and dirty and everyone gets a little crabbier.

The actual planning part…

So I draw out the week like a macro-view from my calendar. I sketch in our two at-home days first. (For the record, the library is so close and we just ride our bikes, so library day can be done on an at-home day.) Before I fill in the rest, I look at a few other things…

  • the weather for the week
  • I fill in any appointments we might have for the week…outings/field trips could be tacked on to those days.
  • what work or projects we have to get done for the week and sketch those in for our “at-home” days
  • our summer fun list to see what other things we want to do…Lemonade Stand might be written in for an “at-home” day, visit the museum might be sketched in for the rainy day of the week, etc.

This is what this week looks like…it’s a little weird because of the Monday holiday. And usually I will draw a box around the days we are staying home with a highlighter, but I didn’t have one near me when I was sketching out this week. 


Daily Routine

Every single day, there’s a few things I want to accomplish, no matter if we’re going on a “field trip” or staying home.

  • Get up at a decent time. My older kids have reeeeaaaallllly been enjoying their time to sleep in. This is great, until half our day is gone. They are now setting alarms so we can get up and get going and do some fun stuff. Their alarms are set pretty generously…like 9am, so it’s not like I’m making them get up at sunrise. They still feel like they are sleeping in for summertime.
  • Chores. When things get lax around here, everything goes out the window. Then things start to fall apart. Chores are huge in our house. 
  • A quick math lesson. I know, I know. But in about 20 minutes, they can do a math lesson and two of my kids were way behind in their math books. Like so far behind that I didn’t feel good about them moving on to the next year’s book and I really don’t want to be looking at these same math books again next school year.
  • Reading and quiet time. Each afternoon, I need some quiet. This has been the perfect opportunity to send the kids off to their corners of the house and read their summer reads.


June was all about the free-for-all. We didn’t have bedtimes or wake up times or any structure really to our weeks or days. It was fun, but we are all ready for a little more structure. July and August for me are going to be about planning for the new school year and working on some new courses like Studying Under the Masters for Kids and Learning Well. For the kids, we’re going to get some more things checked off our summer fun list, enjoy the rest of the summer, and get a little more sleep.

I’m pretty excited about this.

What does your summer routine look like?


  1. Great post, Alicia! For our homeschooling family summer has always been more hectic than I’d like. Now with teenagers who have daily athletic practices and jobs it is even harder to enjoy a relaxed summer day. Your post is a good reminder that even a long lazy day of summer needs scheduling! Thanks.

  2. Thannks Lynna! So my kids go into their rooms to read for an hour to an hour and a half. Just depends on the day. I usually tell them they can do whatever they want to in their rooms as long as they’re quiet. Vera, my 3-year-old is more tricky. She doesn’t like to nap much anymore. This summer, she’ll take one here and there if she’s really tired though. That’s always good. But if not, I have a CD player in her room with good audiobooks and some puzzles and stuff. She usually comes out once or twice and I have to put her back in ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Alicia, I love this post. I love that you allow your kids some more flex and freedom in the summer. And I love that you provide the structure that they need … but with extra summer-fun activities! Just curious – how long do your kiddos manage to do quiet time in the afternoon? And what does the littlest do while the older three are reading? Is she still a napper? Thanks again!

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