Shared Routines and Rituals can be game changers! Most children thrive with a solid rhythm to their day. This can sometimes seem hard to stick to, especially in the summer. But creating a routine doesn't have to be overly complicated! (See a previous Sparkle Schoolhouse post with more tips here.)
Providing even just a bit of structure can help establish the sense of security and safety that kids need to feel grounded. From seven-day sleepy-time playlists for establishing bedtime habits to tips from our own experiences, we've put together a summer routine tool belt to support our fellow Sparklers!
How to Stick to a Routine During Summer
Tips for Parenting Older Kids:
- If you can, keep your work hours consistent.
- Plan regular shared dinner times.
- When kids come home from their various activities, pause to connect.
- Plan regular hangouts for your kids with their friends.
- Avoid media (phones) until breakfast is eaten and chores are complete, plus limited media time.
- Plan consistent nights off for the parents, together and separately!
Tips for Parenting Younger Kids:
- Schedule regular rest times in the day.
- Plan for consistent bedtimes with the same routines.
- Arrange recurring playdates for kids with their friends.
- Try a regular meal plan, where a specific food is eaten on a specific day of the week (ie: Muesli on Monday)
Seven Days of Sleepy-time Stories
To further support your summer routine, we've created a series of Seven-Day Sleepy-time Playlists, categorized by age. Try listening to a story each night for a full week — you may decide that the habit should continue! These stories feature little ones finding solutions to sleep struggles, themes of gratitude and community, and stories about connection with animals (which can also help kids to cultivate empathy). Younger children will often fall asleep while listening. For older children, these stories can provide a time of reflection and stillness while they wind down at the end of a long summer day.
Stories for Kids Ages 3-5
Day One Our first story is from the Martin & Sylvia Collection. In "Go to Sleep Fairy", Martin is grumpy — he simply hasn’t been getting enough sleep. He explains to Momma that he is just not sleepy at night. Everyone has some advice, from warm milk to special stories, but it is his sister who saves the day (or night!) with her delightful introduction to the go-to-sleep fairy.
Day Two In this darling story, a young barn cat is captured by the family in the yellow farm house and brought inside to live. The little cat misses her fun life in the outside world, but with the help of an older cat, she learns that her life inside can also become one of adventure and great fun.
Day Three Today's Sleepy-time Story focuses on gratitude. In this story, Yasoda the water buffalo doesn't appreciate the respect that the villagers give to water buffalo. Instead of seeing the innate gratitude that was being expressed, she only sees an opportunity to be served. This does not last long, however, for her mother has an important lesson on gratitude especially for her.
Day Four Serena, like all manatees, is an expert dreamer. She spends a lot of time in "dreamland" as they call it, and every morning she returns to the waking world filled with a peaceful joy. When something begins keeping her awake, she learns a technique that lets the distractions fall away and allows her to fall deeply and peacefully asleep.
Day Five In this story, Clancy learns the power and importance of learning to take a "pause" — a lesson in patience as he is waiting to heal from the chickenpox.
Day Six On Day Six, we explore gratitude a bit more. In "Brigit and the Cleaning Magic", one cleaning woman is able to keep a series of very fine residences perfectly clean, tending each only once a month. How is this possible? Asher, a boy who lives in one of these homes, wishes to know, and learns first-hand about her secret: gratitude.
Day Seven “Leo the Hermit Crab” is from the Sparkle Sleepytime Series. It is about a young crab who needs a bigger shell. He feels cramped, uncomfortable, and vulnerable in his current shell, but has to wait until a more appropriate shell is available. When the thin, small, shell finally breaks and he is temporarily without any shell at all, his parents are determined to get him what he needs.
Stories for Kids Ages 5-7
Day One Our first story is about dealing with runaway thoughts (and relaxing into a restorative sleep). In "Putting Them to Bed," Aliyah’s mind is full of interesting thoughts — and they’re making it hard for her to fall asleep. One night, she imagines her fairy friends and discovers a new technique for relaxing into dreamland.
Day Two Day Two of our Seven Days of Sleepy-time Stories is simple, sweet, and impactful. This short meditation is sure to help little ones wind down and center before hitting the hay.
Day Three Sparklers who find they have a tough time relaxing will resonate with our Sleepy-time Day Three story. When he enlists the help of Rebecca Rowland, the mother of the raccoon family, he learns some helpful relaxation techniques, but he still can't stop worrying and thinking. It takes the unexpected appearance of a sleepwalking friend to help him use his imagination to fall asleep, rather than to keep him awake.
Day Four Our Day Four Story is all about Gratitude! In this story, Percival Potts is a master chimney sweep from long ago. When he learns that the reason one of his clients has not paid him on time was due to her work at the local hospital, Percival receives a gift — a gift that changes his perspective on his work, on his community, and on his life's true purpose. And that gift is gratitude.
Day Five This darling Junkyard Tales Story is all about start-gazing at the night sky. After a busy day helping his junkyard friends, Ben is ready for a long night's sleep. But then there's an invitation from the Rowlands, the family of raccoons, to do a little star gazing. Always up for an adventure, Ben joins the growing party on the hill for star sighting and more.
Day Six In "The Dark," Martin is feeling a little nervous and anxious before sleep. Momma encourages him to use his other senses, and guides him through a hearing, smelling and feeling exercise that not only reassures him, but relaxes him enough to fall deeply asleep. Little dreamers can follow along with the exercise as they listen.
Day Seven Our final story is from the original Sparkle Stories Sleepytime Playlist. In "Putiri the Pangolin Pup," a nocturnal pangolin pup turns out to be afraid of the dark and this causes difficulty for everyone in her community — but a spontaneous adventure and conversation with her elders offers helpful perspective.
Stories for Kids Ages 7+
Day One The first story comes from the Dry Gables Collection. In Dry Gables, everyone's birthday is the biggest event of the year. This is due primarily to the attention and follow-through of Lena Denken, the town's co-owner of the Dry Goods Store. There is one birthday, however, that is seldom up to snuff — that is until Lena learns a valuable lesson from her friend Marta: how to let go — and do nothing.
Day Two Between the bugs, blight, and bad weather, apples have a difficult time growing in certain parts of the world — but Mr. Dorsett has enjoyed abundant harvests year after year! Mr. Dorsett performs a single blessing on a single special winter’s night — a blessing that was taught long ago by an apple tree elf who resides in the orchard still.
Day Three In "Something Greater than Myself," EB Herz is a young man with great ambition but isn't sure where to place it. When his friend and mentor Franz Denken suggests he run for town mayor, young EB has a transformative realization that where he really wants to put his talents, abilities, and ambition ... is in the care of his community.
Day Four In "Tibby and the Fifth Virtue", our main character loves books. All day long he reads about knights and warriors. He especially loves the stories about the code of chivalry, or the noble virtues of knights. One day he is surprised to find a book in his school locker called The Fifth Virtue. Where did the book come from? And could it be that this book about a knight named "Sir Timothy" — is really about himself?
Day Five For Day Five, we feature "Good Morning Magic" from the By Thistle By Thimble Collection. In this story, Stephan is a very busy man, but he and his daughter Pippy have two special times they always spend together. They are together every morning when Pippy wakes, and every evening when Pippy goes to bed. These times are special for not only them, but for the fairies that regularly gather in the city apartment where they live.
Day Six In this story from the So Many Fairies Collection, there is an unusual tradition in a small northern town. The morning after the longest night of the year, one household wakes to find a gift at their front door: a beautiful (and magical!) hand-woven carpet. Over the years, many families have received one. Some have two and some have three. But Katri’s family, for reasons no one can understand, has none. But Katri thinks she might know where the carpets come from and decides to find out.
Day Seven In "Summer Magic," Martin and Sylvia’s Uncle Phil comes for a visit. The children are particularly excited as they love his magical stories and games. But oh, how hard it is to go to bed at the end of a wonderful summer day! It takes a special gift — one that only summer offers — to help Martin and Sylvia settle down for a summer’s sleep.