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Plan A Summer Strategy for Big Families, Special Needs Families

by EJ on 05/31/16

Wow, the school year is winding down rather quickly - *quick, hide!* - and before I know it, I'll have five kiddos running all over the house, stealing paper and staplers out of my home-office, demanding snacks left and right, whining that they're bored and have nothing to do and all that. If their day off from Memorial Day was any sort of preview, than we're certainly in for it as parents.

I think as the school year comes to an end, the kids start to get just as anxious as us parents, they start to push more buttons and test more limits, so it's time to start preparing all of us for spending a lot more time together. Plus, when you've got a High Functioning Autism-kiddo and an ADHD-er as we do, it's super important to figure out what we want our summer routine to look like, plan out what we can plan, so the transition goes more smoothly. Here's my summer strategy, which I'll discuss with the family as a group, so we're all on the same page. It's a list of seven great ways to keep Mom, Dad and kids on the right path for a successful summer break.

1. Hike and Get Outdoors. Plan on going hiking at least once a week with all the kids, explore new trails and re-enjoy familiar trails. Here in Delaware, we have a great selection of State Parks as well as several National Wildlife Refuges. Since we've got an Aspie-kiddo, who thrives on routine and predictability, we'll likely pick one or two days a week where we go hiking and stick to those days for hiking. Sundays work really well for us.

2. Make use of those family memberships to museums and attractions. It's time to start using our memberships to local museums and gardens. Since I work from home, I can't let my work schedule fly out the window. We'll need to pick a day where we go adventuring every week. For instance, every Thursday we'll go have an adventure at one of our favorite science museums, Longwood Gardens or the Zoo.

3. Stick to usual chore, bath and bed routines. Just because summer is here, does not mean the kids get to stay up late every night, be dirty and live in filth. Mom and Dad need down time more than ever now. We have a movie night once a week when the kids stay up late, but other than that, we'll try to keep bed time reasonable. Chores will go on as usual and possibly more so, since our house will have all the kiddos in it more often. 

4. Stock up on crafts, paper and science kits. Okay, I'm big on science kits. I'll be taking my coupons to Michaels and AC Moore to stock up on science experiment kits, craft sets and a ton of paper. We go through paper like crazy. My kids love crafting, building, painting, writing, drawing and all things creative so the more stocked we are on that, the better. Sometimes we're involved as parents and sometimes I need them to go craft independently so I can get some work done.

5. Sign up for summer camps. We have so many choices for summer activities where we live. Our kids have participated in space camp, art camp, theater camp and more. This summer, we'll again have each kid in at least one summer camp to keep those brains and all that creative energy engaged. It's also a great way to get them out of the house, away from each other and with new friends and environments.

6. Boredom is not always a bad thing. It's okay if my children say they're bored. They may not agree but I would like them to know that I am not always responsible for keeping them occupied. Yes, I like to keep them busy and active, but sometimes it's okay to send them to their room for no reason at all, or to have quiet time or read, or send them outside to explore.

7. Stick to Your Schedule. Whatever your schedule is, stick to it and adjust as needed. I work from home, and still need to meet all my work responsibilities even with the kids home and they'll likely  need to be reminded of that at first.

What are your summer strategies? Feel free to leave your ideas and plans for a smooth transition in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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