It’s summa-summa-summatime, and the living is easy—but sometimes not having a schedule can be hard! After all, little ones thrive on routine, even if they try to tell you otherwise. We’ve gathered a few tips on maintaining a sense of routine during these lazy months that’ll manage expectations, keep everyone rested, and rally excitement for the next adventure. Scroll down to see them all. 

photo: Leslie Science & Nature Center via Flickr

1. Sit Down to Family Dinners
You’ve read the research—and seen the joy when your toddler offers you a bite of her pre-chewed chicken nuggets: sharing a meal is a great way to squeeze in family bonding time! Even if the rest of the day’s events are unpredictable, your kids will probably eagerly anticipate a regular sit-down meal together (at least once every weekday at the same ballpark time). Check out some of our favorite recipes fit for summer here, and dig in together!

2. Try to Keep Regular Bedtimes
At least a few nights each week, consider passing on the late-night movie and guide your kids to bed at their regular bedtime. Preserve the same bedtime routine, too—and reap the benefits of well-rested kids the next morning. Don’t have a bedtime routine? Check out these favorite tips from our editors!

3. Set Reading Goals
Instead of “required reading,” have each of your tiny bookworms create summer reading goals—for example, a set number of books they’ll read each week, or a certain number of books parents will read to/with the kiddos! This ultimate book list can give you some guidance during your next family trek to the local library.

4. Have a Lunch Date
If family dinners are hard, invite your kids on a lunch date! Have a set lunch time and create a weekly “menu” that will create a natural (and delicious) break during the middle of the day. Mix it up and try one of these lunch ideas that isn’t a sandwich!

photo: Amber Strocel via Flickr

5. Make Each Day a Theme
Create a fun calendar of themed days: Playground Thursday, Swimming Saturday, Library Monday, etc. Ask your kids to offer suggestions so that they feel invested in their weekly adventures! You could also try weekly themes, such as Art Week or Animal Week like this parent did!

6. Make a Summer Bucket List
Have each kid list to-dos for their Summer Bucket List. Write them on slips of paper and stick them in a jar, then take one or two out at the beginning of each week. Here are 50 ideas to get you started!

7. Have Daily Quiet Time
Even if your kids aren’t napping anymore, build in an hour or two of quiet time each day to rejuvenate those little bodies. Make quiet time an event they’ll look forward to with these great activity books!

8. Create a Chore Chart
Summer doesn’t mean the house has to turn upside-down! Create a list of chores, assign tasks, and whistle (or crank up that Pandora Taylor Swift station) while you work! Take a peek at our favorite chore charts that make doing laundry a little less painful.

How do you keep a routine during the summer months? Share with us in a Comment below!

— Katie Brown