Inside: Let’s have an organized summer! AKA: Less stress, more fun. With my 3 kids home all summer, it’s an absolute necessity to be organized and have systems in place to make summer with little kids run smoothly. Today I’m going to show you exactly how I do it!
Summer is obviously a magical time.
Vacations, kids off school, watermelon season, pool & beach trips, the list goes on…
Now that my two older girls have started elementary school, they have a true summer break.
My goal is for them to have a fun summer while off school, but not to drive myself crazy trying to take care of 3 kids at home, plus all the planning and messes that come along with summertime.
But first, if we haven’t “met” on IG, Hi! I’m Marla. I’m a SAHM to 3 little girls + a Cavalier King Charles. I teach a course called the Ultimate Stay at Home Mom Course that will help you take your stay at home mom life from totally overwhelmed, to “I’ve got this!”
Inside the course you’ll learn exactly how to create a daily routine that allows you to operate your home with ease.
Once enrolled you can request to join our private Facebook group where you can ask questions, share wins, and learn from other like-minded moms.
Learn more or enroll here.
When I think about how I can be more organized this summer with my kids at home, it comes down to two simple things: systems and routines.
It should be said that having these two things in place doesn’t mean every day will be perfect or little ones won’t have tantrums or missed naps or that kids won’t say “I’m bored.”
Operating your home via systems and mapping out your day with a routine, ensures that YOU, the “captain of the ship” know how you’re steering this boat through summer break.
Instead of walking in circles, wondering when you’ll run that load of bathing suits from the beach, or how you’ll have time to prep dinner and clean the floors with little ones running around, it’s much better to have systems and routines in place so that you can enjoy summer break and still get things done.
Read: Home Management Systems for Busy Mamas
How can I be more organized as a mom this summer?
Here we’re going to break down our two categories and chat about several ways busy moms can keep their homes (and their schedules) organized over the summer.
The center of your home management system should ideally be a planner or family calendar where you write everything down.
- I use a planner with a weekly spread where I write out everything for the week, and we also have a family wall calendar that has important dates for the month.
- In the summer, pretty much everyone in our family has their own schedule. My 2 older girls attend different camps, on different days and times, my husband has his work schedule, and my toddler has an afternoon nap to get to 🙂
- At the beginning of summer I also write out the kid’s camp schedule and our family travel plans in a Google Doc and share it with my husband and any family members we’re visiting or doing a vacation with. You could also use Google Calendar, but I prefer to just type it out in a doc.
Do you need all 3 of these things? Maybe not, but over the years I’ve learned that it’s what works best for me. My planner has my to-dos, meal plans, work tasks, and events/appointments, whereas the big family calendar is simply important dates for everyone to see.
The shared Google Doc is a helpful reference for extended family, so they can remember the dates the kids are in camp vs the dates of your planned trip, etc.
- Planner (for yourself)
- Wall Calendar (for your family)
- Google Doc (to share with hubby or extended fam)
Read more about how I use my planner, in this morning routine post.
Let’s look at some more home systems and how they can help keep you organized (physically and mentally) this summer:
- Where summer supplies such as sunscreen, pool toys, floaties, etc. are stored
- Grab and go snack organization
- Lunch packing supplies for camp and the beach/pool
- Daily laundry and dishes flow
Now that we have some systems in place, let’s think about a daily routine.
A routine? Over summer break?
I know it sounds *crazy* – but we’re not talking about some strict schedule, just an overall game plan for the day.
Here are some things to consider when planning out your daily routine over summer.
- What time kids can come out of their rooms / start their day
- When is TV or screentime allowed?
- What time you plan to serve meals
- When you’ll get out for daily adventures (considering naptime or other factos)
If this is something you struggle with, the Ultimate Stay at Home Mom Course teaches systems and routines and how to establish both in your home.
The activities above are from The Preschool Playbook, which includes a Summer theme & Patriotic theme.
Related: Fun Summer Camp Themes for Little Kids
- Systems: AKA home organization that makes sense for your life in the summer at home with kids
- Routines: How you get from Point A to Point B, mealtimes, sleep times, activities, etc.
Related: Summer Survival Guide
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How to Have an Organized Summer with Kids
Here I’m going to share with you the exact systems and routines I use in my home with my 3 girls in the summer. Being organized is non-negotiable. I don’t want to be running around looking for where I put the sunscreen and flip flops or having arguments about when it’s TV time or when it’s time to go out and play – and I’m certain you don’t, either 😉 Getting organized for summer starts now!
Summer Checklist – Free Printable
I created this checklist to help get myself ready for summer, and I’m sharing it here as well in case it’s helpful to you!
You can download the PDF, print it out and stick it on your fridge. Check off items as you go!
The Target Trip:
Every May, before school’s out, I do a big Target trip (solo, without kids) and load up on everything I need for summer break.
- Bathing suits
- Play clothes
- Road trip activities
You can, of course, also do this on Amazon!
I also do a separate Dollar Tree haul for things like:
- Sidewalk chalk
- Plastic measuring cups & spoons
- Rainy day stuff: crafts, “prizes”, fun stuff, etc.
- Beach/Pool toys
Bathing Suits & Muddy/Messy Clothes: In the summer we go to the pool several times a week. This means lots of bathing suits and towels that need to be washed.
- After we get home from the pool, I have the girls put their bathing suits and towels right into the washing machine and then I run the wash every night as part of our bedtime routine.
- My kids also *love* messy and muddy play which amounts to a lot of stained clothing. Below I’ll share my simple laundry system for keeping up with the mess.
- I treat stained clothing items directly in my sink, with this spray that I’ve been using for years.
This is a snippet from my Daily Laundry Routine post:
- Anything that’s stained, they throw right in my sink to be treated and the rest of their clothes go in the laundry hamper in our master closet. Note: if you have a utility sink or the bathroom is right next to the laundry room, you can easily treat stained clothes elsewhere, this is just what works with the layout of our home.
- After bathtime, I throw the stained clothes in the hamper, and then carry the hamper into the laundry room.
- While the kids are brushing their teeth and getting their PJs on, I start the wash (if my husband is home we usually get his work clothes in too, and this is where it’s easy to “divide & conquer” on the household chores and bedtime duties).
- At some point in the delicate dance of putting 3 kids to bed, one of us will transfer the wash to the dryer.
- The next morning I sort the clean clothes (one hamper for the adults, one for the kids – my toddler loves to “help” with this) and I typically get our clothes put away in the morning, and either me or my husband will put away the kids’ clothes at bedtime.
- As the day goes on, my sink will collect stained clothing, and later that night, the routine starts again with filling up the hamper and running the wash.
If you visit the pool or beach often, it’s a good idea to have a pool bag ready to go (and kept in an accessible place).
I use these mesh bags inside my pool bag to store sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bandaids, hair ties, chapstick, and other necessities.
I also bought an inexpensive plastic storage unit from Walmart and placed it in my front hall closet.
Here’s what’s inside:
- Top drawer: sunscreen spray, sunscreen face sticks, bug spray
- Middle drawer: flip flops and sunscreen
- Bottom drawer: rolled up pool towels (was able to fit about 4)
Summer Car Organization
If you’re planning a road trip, or you spend a good amount of time in your car over the summer (going to the pool, beach, or splash pad), then you’ll absolutely need to have your car stocked with essentials.
These are items I load up on when I do my Target Trip.
- Wet / dry bag (I have this one): I keep a full “just in case” change of clothes for each kid, and the “wet” compartment is helpful for accidents, muddy clothes, etc.
- Road trip activities
- First Aid Kit
- Extra diapers & wipes
- Hand sani, sunscreen sticks, bug spray, etc.
But the real trick to staying organized the whole summer?
Seeing your systems through.
Here’s what I mean: it’s all well and good to have an organizer in your front hall closet or a family calendar to write things down, however, none of this matters if there’s no upkeep.
For example: after coming home from the pool, throw all the towels and bathing suits in the laundry machine, once the towels are dry, roll them up and place them back in the organizer so they’re ready to go for next time.
Screentime: If you’ve been following me on IG since summer of 2022, then you know about the “Screen-Free ‘till 3” challenge.
The idea is simple: hold off on TV or screens until 3 PM (or whatever time works best for your family’s schedule).
- Where we live, it gets *extremely* hot in the afternoon. By 12 PM the slides at the playground are too hot to touch and it often rains by 2 PM.
- Instead of wasting time with watching shows in the morning, I’d rather get up and get out while it’s not scorching hot or raining, and then have the kids relax with an afternoon snack & a movie later in the day.
- As I mentioned, it doesn’t have to be 3 PM, it can of course be 1 PM or after naptime, or whatever works, it’s just that “screen-free ‘till 3” has a great ring to it – and that’s the time that works for us 😉
Meals & Snacks: Alternate Title: Feeding Kids 24/7 in summer 🙂
- There is something about everyone being home for 2 months that really makes you feel like you’ll never stop making food, serving food, and doing dishes.
- One thing that has really helped is to use a feeding schedule AKA, approximately what times meals are served. This helps with some of the mental load of “when” to feed everyone.
- As for snacks, I like to keep a lot of grab-and-go options in the pantry and fridge that the kids can help themselves to whenever they want (except right before a meal). We also have a “popsicle drawer” in our garage freezer. My big girls are 6 & 8 so they’re pretty good about getting their own snacks and letting me know when they’re hungry.
- This is a list of my go-to dinner ideas I keep on repeat. This really helps answer that “what’s for dinner” question.
- In the summer it’s helpful to keep it simple with “no-cook” dinners, snack plates, crockpot meals / sheet pan meals, and using a countertop air fryer when possible.
Summer Camp: If your kids are old enough to attend summer camp, think about how that will factor into your daily routine.
- My girls attend dance camp from 9-12. My toddler needs to nap around 1.
- When planning out our days during camp weeks, I start with those times and then work backwards to determine what time meals will be, when we need to leave the house, etc.
- This also helps inform when they’ll get to watch TV. While camp mornings are not as rushed as school mornings, they don’t really need to watch TV as I find that sort of sets the day backwards rather than forwards.
Mom-to-Mom: As far as signing kids up for camp – slots fill up quickly! And sign-ups are much earlier than you think. Some camps start enrollment as early as January, but most start in March. I didn’t start sending my girls to camp until they were about 5. I found this was a great age for a morning camp (around 9-12). Now that my oldest is 8, she’s asking to go to a full-day camp.
I know that their time with me is precious, and as a stay at home mom, I don’t want them away from me all day, but I know they enjoy camp a lot, so I try to balance it out with half-day camps a few weeks of the summer!
- When making my summer Google Doc, I write out what dates the girls will attend camp, plus the time, location, etc.
- I do camp sign-ups first, and then plan a little family trip around that, when my husband is off work and the girls have no camp.
If summer camp is not in the cards, my Summer Survival Guide shares everything you need to do summer camp at home! Also known around here as “Mommy Camp”.
Kid’s Rooms: With kids home every day their rooms are bound to get chaotic. I often have to remind myself that this is semi-okay. Mess often means “play happened here.”
However, it gets to a point where whatever they were playing with *needs* to be cleaned up.
Teaching kids how to do age-appropriate chores should be an important part of family life. Each member of the family should help contribute to the success of the home. AKA kids need to take care of their things!
Even a toddler can help put away their stuffed animals, or put toys back in a bin.
Read: How to Declutter Toys
I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of chore charts out there, most of which require kids to check off things each day, however, I’ve found these to be a lot of upkeep – for everyone involved.
Instead, I made these little “reminder” charts and stuck them right by the door, at eye level.
These simple charts give the girls instructions on tidying before leaving their room.
For my kids, most of the play in their rooms happens before 7 AM (they have to stay in their rooms until 7), or in the afternoon during quiet time. If your kids play in their room a lot throughout the day, you could pick a designated time for them to use their chart.
For example: as part of their bedtime routine, or in the afternoon, after quiet time or before naptime.
Try using this chart as part of your routine and being consistent with it, I think you’ll like the results! 🙂
Summer with kids doesn’t have to be overwhelming! With systems in place, and an overall routine (game plan) for your day, you’ll find that your family naturally gets into a flow and your summer days run much smoother.
What to Read Next:
- Daily Routine over Summer Break
- Summer Survival Guide Shopping List
- 5 Summer Bucket List Activities for Toddlers
- Fun Summer Camp at Home Themes