Summer…  My kids home all day with me, neighbor children coming and going, slumber parties.  My house is overflowing with children during the summer and I love it!

However, as a mother of 6 plus friends visiting our home I need a little extra organization to keep my sanity.  We are spontaneous during summer break but also need some structure, especially for the toddlers.

Some of the tricks in my toolbox:

  1. I have several early risers so we have quiet time until 7 am.  The early birds may read a book or do a puzzle quietly until then.  After 7:00, it’s snuggle time with Mom!
  2. After lunch, if we are home, everyone has a rest time.  Again, books or puzzles are appropriate activities as well as playing quietly in their room.  After rest time rooms must be tidy before coming out.  I work part-time from home and this is my office time.
  3. Everyone in our home is assigned a certain color of cup to avoid dirtying a new cup every time they want a drink.  Visitors receive a cup with their name written on a wide rubber band or a disposable with their name in permanent marker.
  4. For outings, we have the bottom shelf of the refrigerator stocked with reusable water bottles.  Containers are filled with grapes, sliced veggies, cheese cubes, etc., so we are ready for a picnic on short notice.
  5. We do not head to the pool or library until morning chores are complete (beds made, rooms tidy, breakfast cleaned up, laundry started, plus one additional weekly chore).
  6. We limit our screen time with ‘Tech Twigs:’ popsicle sticks labeled with the kids’ names.  Each child receives 5 per week, with each stick allowing for 30 minutes of screen time – of any type.
  7. An additional chore list is posted inside a cabinet for those looking to earn a little extra money.  It also quickly cures “Mom, I’m bored!” or can free a belonging from ‘Toy Jail’ (see below).
  8. Every evening before bed we have a ’10-minute Tidy.’  Any toys not picked up head to a box labeled “Toy Jail.”  Toys can be redeemed by completing a chore from the Chore List.
  9. Dirty clothing or shoes left on the floor will cost the offender $0.25 a piece and go into Mom’s Starbucks Fund.  I made enough for a caramel macchiato within the first week, but thanks to kids’ quickly learning their lesson, my income has diminished.
  10. Devise a Summer Fun Calendar with dates for activities at the library’s summer reading program, friend swaps, parent/child dates, etc.  Also scheduled a technology-free week and several ‘fun at home’ days.  One day every week is reserved for grocery shopping and catching up on housework.

Hopefully my list has sparked some ideas you could share as well! I (ahem…we all) would love to hear your ideas on how you keep your summer sanity – share with us please!