No-schedule Summer? 4 reasons why you don’t need a schedule for your children

With so many colour-coded schedules popping up all over my Instagram and Pinterest feeds, I wanted to add an alternative solution: a no-schedule summer!⁠

Does this sound horrifying to you? Well I promise you that it’s not.

The problem with hour-by-hour schedules is that you’re quickly setting yourself up for a stressful summer of clock watching. ⁠That’s why we ditched the high expectations in favour of a no-schedule summer.

What if your child is happily engaged in play and you’re dragging them off to do a ‘fun’ craft because it’s 10am? Most of the time, that’s not going to met with enthusiasm. ⁠

Whilst schedules can work for some children, in the early years especially a gentle daily rhythm is better.⁠

a 6 year old girl wearing a pink floppy hat eats a strawberry ice-cream, she has a big smile on her face

Why is a no-schedule summer best?

🌻Because young children typically don’t have any concept of time but they do understand ‘before/after’ and ‘first/then’ statements. ⁠

🌻In the early years, children really thrive when able to spend plenty of time engaged in free, self-directed play ⁠

🌻Boredom can actually be  a good thing – that’s how creative projects are born⁠


no-schedule summer: 2 young children and their dad walk down a country path in summer time

Implementing a daily rhythm 5+ years ago was a total gamechanger to my parenting.⁠

Our own daily rhythm started out of my desperation for life to start feeling like something MORE. I was utterly fed up with the treadmill life of washing, packed lunches, activities and mess on repeat.

I’d gotten so far away from my previous life as a teacher and researcher that I hardly recognised myself. And whilst I’d made tentative steps towards establishing This Playful Home (first as Teach Investigate Play) I was hardly getting any work done at all.

In addition to this, Illness postpartum meant that I didn’t have to energy to set up a conveyor belt of activities. Plus, my observations showed me that planned activities didn’t go over as well as they thought they might.⁠

Up until this point, my days had swung from activity overload one day to complete and utter exhaustion the next. The exhaustion meant I didn’t do anything ‘fun’ and then I felt super guilty about it.

It got to the point where something had to give. ⁠

So I put on my ‘teacher’ hat and my ‘researcher’ hat and pieced together our very first daily rhythm. ⁠

The beauty of a rhythm is that it is a gentle, predictable flow to the day. This means it’s much easier for young children to follow. ⁠

In comparison, a strict timetable of art at 9-10am and outdoor time from 3pm-4pm (and so on), means that nobody wins. What if your child doesn’t want to do crafts at a certain time? If you fail to do playdough at exactly 11am, does that mean the day is a write-off?⁠

Take the pressure off of yourself and your kids this summer by introducing a daily rhythm instead. ⁠

So if a no-schedule summer is best, what should you be doing instead?

no-schedule summer - instead of / try infographic


Introduce a daily rhythm

A daily rhythm was absolutely essential for us. It turned our days right around and it’s so much easier to manage everything from parenting to work and more. But it’s not just me that recommends it. Many educational philosophies from Montessori to Waldorf stress the importance of creating a predictable flow to your days.

In my online membership, A Playful Year, I talk about the whole process involved in setting up your days for simplicity and success. The very first masterclass series, Design your Family Rhythm, will help get you started with this.


Create a bucket list

Having a no-schedule summer doesn’t mean the same as doing nothing at all. You can still plan days out or fun and free events with your family. I really recommend creating a bucket list to help you focus on the activities that you really want to do over the summer break.

You can download our version for free (without email sign-up) here or try creating your own with a programme like Canva.


Set up the play space for independence

Give your children the freedom to play independently by ensuring they have access to open-ended toys and skills-based resources in a playful home environment.

Environment is the third teacher of children and so having access to resources that will help them play independently for longer periods of time is crucial.

In my mini course, Play Space 101, you can learn how to create a purposeful play environment – from decluttering and organising to presenting toys so that will actually get played with.

Play Space 101 is also currently available as part of my A Playful Year membership on Substack. To take advantage of accessing the course at a low price, find out more here. 

Introduce an art cart

One of the easiest ways to encourage creativity in young children is to have an art cart available and accessible.

Children are actually born creatives – they have incredible ideas, even if us adults don’t always see their genius. Rather than setting up loads of planned crafts during the summer break try introducing an art cart instead.

Read ‘5 Reasons you Need an Art Cart’  and ‘Our Favourite Art and Craft Resources’ more help to get started.

Related Articles You Might Enjoy

How To Make Your Summer At Home With Young Children More Playful

Moving from parental overwhelm towards joy

5 Essentials for Building a Daily Rhythm

5 Reasons why your child needs plenty of outdoor play

5 Ways to Reduce Screen-time 

A Simple After-School Rhythm for Young Children 

You can also visit my Pinterest and Instagram pages for daily play inspiration.


Introducing Your Playful Year On Substack!

What if I told you that you didn’t have to figure everything out for yourself?

What if I told you I could help you plan out your playful year?

‘Your Playful Year’ is our low-cost membership over on Substack which you can get for as little as $5.80 per month. That’s basically the equivalent of one takeaway coffee + cake.


monthly A Playful Year membership featuring 3 downloadable resources: family rhythm guides, playful prompts and the family values workbook


Why Pay To Subscribe?

  • Get detailed, research-backed information from a qualified educator and mum to three children delivered straight to your inbox
  • The monthly masterclasses will help you to delve into topics and reach a deeper understanding. This is simply not possible with social media posts and regular blogs
  • The seasonal guides and resources will help you to play your upcoming season and focus on the things that matter most to your family
  • Access to the playful prompts library will help you to create easy, engaging play invitations at a low-cost
  • I help save you time and energy so you wont need to scroll social media looking for answers
  • Get access to printable resources and video masterclasses
  • Be involved and have your say – whilst topics are planned in advance, you as a subscriber also have the power to drive future focus topics.

Subscribe to get a free trial.

What Topics Are Included In The Focus Topics And Masterclasses?

This Playful Home is a three-pillared approach to raising children in the early years.

Learn how to raise your child with intentional rhythms, purposeful learning environments and play- centred educational philosophies so that you can design your own unique family roadmap.


  • family rhythms
  • environment as the third teacher
  • outdoor play
  • toy rotations
  • your role in play
  • an introduction to play schemas
  • how to set up intentional play invitations


Topics are detailed. Each month you get four emails introducing, then expanding upon the topic. You also get access to the monthly masterclass videos (I’m currently involved with Substacks’s video beta test) as well as printable resources and journal prompts.

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.