Keeping the Good Times (Giveaway)

Summertime Routines

This giveaway is no longer accepting entries. Congratulations to our winner Emily!

Summer is coming, and for some kids that means lazy days doing nothing but lounging around by a pool with no plans at all…or it means schedules crazier than the school year with summer school classes, swimming lessons, summer jobs, theater camps, band camp, newspaper camp, karate tournaments, tennis matches, and trying to make it to the neighbors’ barbecue without getting lost in the chaos.

More likely, summer means a combination of idle times and chaos. In any event, it can be hard to help kids maintain a routine during the summer days. While some deviation from the rigorous schedule of the school year can be a healthy break, kids do benefit from some routine. So while trying to juggle the multiple directions everyone in the family is going, it’s worthwhile to maintain some routines that kids can look forward to throughout the day.

It can be especially challenging when everyone in the family is going different directions. The good news is that there are many ways to maintain a healthy sense of structure in kids’ lives, even in the less-structured days of summer.

Chow Time

Set meal times and 2-3 snacks per day. Multiple studies have shown that children, especially already overweight children, tend to gain more weight during the summer. It is unclear whether this weight gain is due to less structured meal times, more grazing, eating out of boredom, more treats available in the summer, or a combination of all these factors, but continuing the routine of meals and not allowing grazing in between meal or snack times can help decrease unhealthy weight gain.

Since kids often have more free time on their hands to make meals or snacks themselves, summer is a good time to teach them how to prepare healthy, fun meals. The magazine Chop Chop is available at most UW pediatricians’ offices and has seasonal healthy recipes that are designed to be fun and able to be prepared by kids (some with adult help). Each recipe notes whether adult supervision is needed. Recipes from recent issues are also available at If things go really well, you’ll have some more chefs on your hands!

Moving Time

While the school year provides gym classes, during the summer many kids don’t have an outlet for physical activity and may be put off by the intense heat of Midwest midsummer days. The good news is that the longer days of summer mean more time for morning or evening physical activities outside. Early summer evening hours can be the perfect time for getting everyone in the family to regularly take a bike, a walk, or kick around a soccer ball to get moving before dinner.

Talking Time

Keep family members connected. Families often know the basics of what goes on at school, but in the summer families may be less in touch with what other family members are up to during the day. Talking about “Highs and Lows” or the best and worst part of everyone’s day at dinner or bedtime can provide a comforting routine for kids as well as a way for family members to learn about what others are up to.

Sleep and Wake Time

It can be difficult to convince kids to go to bed at a regular time when there’s no school to wake up for in the morning. However, regular waking and sleeping times are very helpful in promoting good sleep. Having a regular calming bedtime activity can help signal to kids that it’s time for bed.

Bathtime and singing songs can help younger kids relax and feel ready for bed. Reading a book together as a family is a good way to help everyone, from 0 to 116 years old (currently the age of the oldest person in the world), wind down and nurture the love of reading. It also makes reading an enjoyable activity, not just one that is required and only takes place during a rigorous school schedule.

The National Sleep Foundation has many good tips about ways to encourage children of different ages to sleep as well as information about the sleep needs of different children.

Changing it up Time

Of course, the beauty of summer is that it often allows for some occasional deviations from routine. 4th of July is a good excuse to stay up past bedtime, the Madison Parks Moonlight movie series can be another way for families to be entertained together, and sometimes you just can’t say no to Babcock’s ice cream.

Smiling Sun

To enter this week’s giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post telling us your “highs and lows” from this week.
Prize: 1 $10 Target gift card
Rules: Giveaway closes on Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 11pm CST. Open to Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois residents only. One entry per email address is permitted. The winner will be selected using and announced on the following Monday as an update to this post. Winner will be notified via email and asked to provide a mailing address to receive the prize; if the winner does not respond within 7 days, the winner forfeits the prize and another winner will be selected. Subscribe to the blog and you’ll get new posts delivered to your inbox as soon as they’re posted.


  • Courtney M. Friese

    High this week: Got to go fishing on Sunday with my family! 🙂
    Low this week: My current soccer season ends which means many of my current teammates will no longer be playing with me … 🙁

  • Herandy Garcia

    High this week: Saturday we planted flowers in our garden with our two girls, they worked very hard and felt very proud of themselves for planting 🙂 low this week: had to take our truck to the mechanic 🙁

  • High: swimming with the family at the beach.
    Low: my son’s baseball game being rained out the 3rd week in a row

  • jordan vanstrom

    Low point: Transplant keeping Jordan in hospital longer than thought
    High point: Jordan may get out this week? 🙂

  • High: my four month old started rolling front to back after several weeks of frustration.
    Low: my three year old started getting up at 4:45.

  • We have been battling with our daughter over potty training, so that continues to be our low point. She stays dry all day at day care, and tells our day care provider when she has to go, but has multiple accidents at home. Our high point so far, had been her adjustment to the time change (finally). For the past few weeks she has been having a hard time understanding the in light at bedtime. She has had crying fits because “it’s not dark out yet.” This week she had actually been telling us she wants to go to bed, and she’s tired. This is also a high point because we’ve been spending so much more time outside having fun (and getting tired).

    • Lynsey,
      Going to bed when it’s still light out is a hard adjustment, but we agree that being able to (finally) play outside is worth it!

  • Highs: setting up our summer muddy slip n slide and Baylin getting a big out at his baseball game
    Lows: trying to balance out all of the fun activities that we love to do;). I’m thinking a personal assistant this summer;). Hah;)

  • High: daughter started swim team practice
    Low: newborn preventing me from getting much sleep

  • Highs were really being productive and getting a lot done…lows were not getting the *real* things I wanted to done because I was too busy! :’P

  • High: This week is the first week of our CSA
    Low: Boys baseball games/practices at the same time at different fields

  • High: our son turns 6 years old
    Low: getting a stomach bug

  • Low- My 3 year old has been hitting, spitting and punching me along with tantrums.
    High – 6 month old starting to become more mobile

  • High this week was starting a 28-day health and fitness challenge. I’ve gone soda free and worked out every day so far.
    Low: Rain will keep the end-of-school picnic indoors this year.

  • Tabatha Rosendahl

    Highs-Sister got married and my daughter got to hang out with the cousins she considers her best friends.
    Low-We are struggling with staying dry during the day, and had to go back to wearing pull-ups during the day.


  • This week’s high – kindergartener raved about the note mom left in her lunch!
    This week’s low – our 2 year old is in full “No!” mode – so much that she’s saying it for more than 5 minutes at a time in her sleep.

  • low: major miscommunication with hubby resulting in a very late daycare pick-up. I feel like the world’s worst mother!
    high: 5-month old slept all night for the first time and just learned to push up on all-fours.

  • High: Our little man has been sleeping in a little later (until 6:30-6:45am) because of playing outside longer!
    Low: Our little man refuses to eat any fruits or veggies this week…grrrr.

  • High- our new niece was born yesterday and she is so precious 🙂
    Low- our 12 year old daughter is sick with mycoplasma and has broken out in a rash all over her body that itches and hurts at the same time 🙁

  • The high point of this week has been finishing up with homeschooling one of my boys and the low for the week has been dealing with a bad case of allergies any getting over a bad cold.

  • High: My little girl is giving lots of kisses this week <3 makes everything about the day, better:)
    Low: My sweetheart had to get 3 vaccines today:/ I know she needs them, but it still makes my heart ache.

  • High: Swim team practice has begun. So much fun seeing our “summer” friends at the pool.

    Low: More work time than play time.

  • High: Going to International Crane Foundation on last day of school with the kids.

  • High: I just moved so getting internet back is great
    Low: Having no internet for a few days was hard but good for me

  • High:Getting the pool up and seeing the kids so excited.
    Low:Baby not sleeping as well as normal this week.