Our media fast is going even better than I had hoped. No one is pestering me for screen time. The kids are spending larger amounts of time reading or in independent or collaborative play. We are all enjoying the structure of a new routine with set expectations. Preparing for all of this has been work, but having to make fewer daily decisions means I’m more relaxed and able to be flexible. Maintaining the new routine requires me to be both physically present and mentally and emotionally engaged, which hasn’t been easy, but I’ve noticed that the kids are now less demanding of the time I’m not actively engaged with them because they have so much of my attention in the early part of the day. I even read a whole book on my own this week!

Bickering is still a problem, but the house is much more calm than usual when all four kids are home. Even hubby has noticed a difference. We may just cut screen time out of our daily routine for the entire summer! (Though I still reserve the right to use it as a babysitter in a pinch. No legalism here.)

The kids helped me make a wish list of activities they want to do this summer, focusing mostly on things we can do at home. This list gives me a resource to draw from for our morning activities. This simple list has gotten the kids excited about what we’ll do each day, and it saves me from having to make so many creative decisions.

Today we started a summer journal to get the kids writing daily. I give them each a fun writing prompt and a number of sentences to write. They actually seem to enjoy this as much as I do!

Today was also the start of a summer reading challenge for our oldest: 20 books of my choice. We’ve posted the list and gathered the books in a basket. If he can finish all 20 before the first day of school next year, he gets a big reward. These are not books he’d typically choose for himself, but most are classics or award-winners he’s sure to enjoy. They’ll stretch his reading skills a bit, but he’s highly motivated. (He has 2 opportunities to request a change if he gets into a book and just cannot bear to read it through, but I get to choose the replacement.) Win-win!

What about you? What are you doing to combat the crazy with your kids this summer?