How I Get 2 Hours of Sanity Each Day {with 4 boys home all summer!}


Hey friends!

I hope you are having a wonderful summer so far!

I am having a great summer, but I have to admit that it takes some time getting used to having all four of my boys home all day, every day, during the summer.

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I LOVE spending time with my boys!

But like all boys/brothers/siblings…they have their moments, and I start to feel like I am going a little batty.



We are very fortunate to live on 5 1/2 beautiful acres.  So during the summer, the boys spend most of their time outside.  They like to build forts in the woods, play ninja warriors with sticks as their weapons, catch snakes and scare their mama, and ride their bikes and scooters.

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I LOVE that my boys get to spend tons of time outside.

But they usually don’t want to spend 12 hours of the day out in the sun.  And they definitely don’t play outside on a day like today when it is rainy.

So for my sanity, and theirs, I came up with a plan to give me a 2 hour break each day.



I call it “Station Rotation.”  {It’s the teacher in me!}

I basically created four different “stations” in separate areas of my house.


Station 1:  Computer room (my office)

Station 2:  Piano room (den)

Station 3:  Reading room (Jonathan and Luke’s room)

Station 4:  Movie room (Adam and Eli’s room)


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Each station lasts 30 minutes.


Here are some pictures of my boys during Station Rotation…



Jonathan on the computer…stations 002(I let them play pre-approved games on the computer. My favorites are Jumpstart, Poptropica, Club Penguin, and Webkinz. NO Youtube, facebook, or web surfing allowed!!!)



Adam on the Piano…stations 001

(My three oldest boys play piano, so this is a great way to get their practice in. Eli gets to play on the Wii when he is in the “piano room.” You could come up with a different idea for a station if your children do not play an instrument, like maybe a coloring/drawing room or play dough room. Whatever you know your kids would like.)




Eli in the reading station “reading” a book. stations 007 (He doesn’t know how to actually read, but I tell him to make up a story in his mind as he looks at the pictures.  This is also a great way for my older boys to read their bible and devotional.)




Luke getting ready to watch a movie. stations 010 (The person who starts in the movie room gets to pick the movie for that day.)


I also use this rotation to help me with putting away the laundry.  When I fold their clothes, I sit their “piles” in their rooms.  When they get to the station that is in their room, they have to put their clothes away before they can begin that station.  (That’s the movie and reading rooms.)  Woohoo!  This helps me out a lot!

I usually set the timer on my phone.  When the timer goes off, I yell “switch”, and they go to the next room.

This little schedule gives me free time for 2 hours to do what I want.

Sometimes I do housework, or sometimes I do what I am doing right now…writing a blog post!

The boys actually love Station Rotation and oftentimes ask me if we can do it.  We do not do it everyday, and we do it at different times during the day each time we do it.  Sometimes we do stations in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon.

And sometimes we do stations when the boys are acting up and need a “break” from each other!

I shared this little idea with some blog friends on our facebook page, and they loved the idea.  I thought it would sound really “teacher-y” or “regimented”, but they actually all gave me big HUGE thumbs up!!

They told me I should write a post about it, so I did. Smile


I am fortunate that all my boys are old enough to do their stations by themselves.  However, if I had a baby still in the house, I would probably try to do stations with my older children while the youngest one took a nap.  (Or I took a nap.) Smile

Anyway, just wanted to share this idea with you in case you needed a couple of hours of sanity in your day like me!


If you have any other great ideas of how to keep your children entertained during the summer, share your ideas with me in the comments.  I would love to hear them.


And if you think Station Rotation is a great idea, please feel free to share it on Pinterest!  You can pin this picture below.




Have a blessed day!

Linking to…

Home Stories A2Z


  1. This is a fabulous idea! I shared on my FB wall, my blogs wall! I only have one daughter but she is constantly saying I’m bored and wants to be entertained all the time. I’m going to implement this idea this week and let her help create the stations so she is sold on the idea!!

    Thank you for sharing

  2. Wow! I love your idea and wish I had thought of it when my kids were younger. I may pin it anyway for my friends with younger kids :)

  3. Loved it! Pinned it! I’ve used this idea so many times in the classroom, why didn’t I think of transitioning it to home?! Good one, Traci!

  4. I LOVE this! What a fantastic idea. This is the first summer I’ve had my boys home with me almost every day, all day. It’s also the first summer no one has been taking naps, etc. Station rotation sounds like the perfect remedy to my fear that they’ll be bored and tired of each other within a week. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Fantastic! I think I’ll use this one during the school year. We homeschool, so I’m used to having them hoe all the time, but I still get a little batty some days :) This will help!

  6. You can have a game with mom, puzzles, arts/crafts, cooking with mom or decorate your snack- so many possibilities and I appreciate that you took the time from your “me time” to share with everyone! We have mandatory rest time each day- all of them on a bed reading. It’s bliss! We’re a bit out of sorts right now as the house is torn apart in anticipation of the packers coming- first round next week! :)

  7. You’re a smart cookie! My younger sister was a teacher for years, and she’s like you–she adapts ideas that worked well in the classroom to help her manage her household and parent her children well. Good for you!!

    In our house, there would have had to be a LEGO station. Having a chance to build while one’s brothers were in the other room would have been most welcome to all my boys! :)

  8. I LOVE this idea and will be pinning it as soon as I’m done commenting! Thanks for sharing it. I never comment on blogs, but after reading Beckie’s “What every blogger wishes their readers knew” series, I thought I would share the love. :) Thanks for blogging!

  9. Genius! Such a wonderful way to help you and the boys. And the 5 1/2 acres of outdoor space is awesome! Here’s to a fun summer! Cheers.

  10. It’s brilliant! A little structure goes a long way in children’s lives. Being a teacher comes in real handy sometimes, doesn’t it? I know neither of us teach full-time anymore, but the knowledge lasts a life time. I’m very thankful for my experience as a teacher.
    Your boys have a great momma.

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  11. every year I would tell myself I was going to do a project with my kids to make their summer an adventure and not be wasted time, a time to learn something new. I dint do so well at it. I love this idea, maybe I can do this with the grand kids. I will say my children turned out pretty good…one with masters degree and two with their bachelors degree. Needless to say I’m very proud of them.

  12. We set the timer for lots of things here. It really works. And my kids, especially my boy, loves setting the timer himself.

    I love your stations. I only have two kids – one boy and one girl, so they often do different things in different rooms. But when it seems things are just starting to get a little squirrelly, we pull out the bubble gum. A piece of bubble gum always seems to smooth things out here. Bubble blowing contests with various categories. It’s never ceases to amaze me how a piece of bubble gum can change everyone’s mood!

  13. Great idea, Traci. I may have to try that soon! We just implemented a new rule yesterday. Each of my girls start with 3 sticks (craft sticks that they painted, but that’s another story) each morning. When they want computer time, they have to turn in a stick. Each stick is worth 15 minutes. Once they use them up for day, they’re gone. They can use them all at once or spread them out throughout the day. Then they start over the next day. We actually made 4 sticks, for a total of one hour computer time, but I told them the last stick is one they have to earn for good behavior and playing nicely together. =)

  14. I LOVE this idea!!! I’m totally going to do this with my kiddos this summer and may actually start it today since it is raining here. Thanks so much for this! :-)

  15. This is wonderful! I also have 4 boys, though they are younger (6, 4, 2 and 5 months), but I can definitely think of ways to make this work for us. I’ll be homeschooling next year and I can already see ways of integrating this regularly. Thank you for sharing your great idea! God bless =)

  16. Love this idea! By the way, the picture of your son at the piano caught my eye because there is a “Federal Mogul” box in the background. My husband works for Federal Mogul in Manitowoc, WI!!!

  17. FABULOUS! I am adding this to my summer list. What an amazing idea you have! Thanks so much for sharing and helping this mom of 4 get some much needed laundry/cleaning time in this summer.

  18. I really like this idea- I am a teacher too and think that kids like the structure!

    I think that occasionally making one of the stations a “mom and me” station could be fun too- maybe make a dessert or color or play a game? I like the idea of them having time that’s structured but not too structured.

    Thanks for sharing!! Enjoy your summer :)

  19. This is a genius idea! Since I have four older boys and a one year old, I’m thinking I could make one of the stations “play with Rachel”. Wonder if they would go for that. Maybe if I included a snack with it. Lol!

  20. I love this! I have three kids- 7, 5, and 2 1/2. Right now we do a generalized “quiet time”, but boredom sets in fast. This gives me some great ideas to keep them entertained and still have a little time for me. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Holy cow, this is awesome! My 4yo (5 next month) doesn’t nap most days, but sometimes I just need to chill by myself. I could totally do this. I seriously love this!

  22. I could have used this idea today! I am watching my 9 and 7yo grandsons this summer along with my own 10 yo twin sons. Needless to say, I need to keep them busy! I had this lovely schedule made up but much of it consisted of outdoor time. Well, it poured all. day. long. So……… got a little loud and crazy here by the end of the day. But now I am prepared and will indeed be putting this into practice the next rainy day. I also questioned the 30 minute movie but will just insert 3O minute dvd in there, no problem:)

  23. Traci,

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are an answer to prayers. We do a similar idea, called roomtime at our house. I have been looking for fresh ideas now that my boys are no longer preschoolers. And we have been needing to find new computer sites, as our skills are improving. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

    PS I love reading your blog!

  24. This is such a great idea! Thank you for sharing it with your readers. My kids are not quite independent enough for this, but definitely plan to implement it when they get a little older.

  25. Thank you for the great idea! My older two have to have a “quiet time” everyday while my 2 year old takes a nap. They’ve been getting quite bored, but I didn’t know how to fill that time. I love your ideas of stations. I think I’ll add an arts and craft station instead of computer station…they love crafts.

  26. So, theoretically, if you had 6 kids, six activities, and actually had six distinct and separate rooms,, you could have 3 hours of uninterrupted peace… Somehow, I just don’t see it happening.

  27. What a great idea! I’ll have to try this with Eva. Can I do station rotation too? I would add in a nap station, for sure, and then maybe forget about the other three stations. ;)

  28. oh wow! thank you so much for this!! this is very encouraging. i have wanted my boys home from school so bad, and now that they’re home, i’m feeling a bit overwhelmed! I think this situation would work great for us! and oh, 5.5 acres….that is dreamy!! blessings to you!!

  29. That’s great! I’m glad you see the importance of having that break in the day! We do “room time” when the older kids don’t nap (and the toddler does) so I’m ensured some quiet every single day. I get exhausted hearing friends that don’t, and they let their young children be up and around all day long. Other things we’ve done this summer to keep the kids busy and everyone has fun is to plan a lot of events with our friends — last week we all got together and cleaned up one of the local parks, complete with popsicles afterward! We were going to do a car wash event yesterday but had to postpone. We’ve hosted storytime and each child prepared a short book to read to everyone. Even the pre-readers have simple books memorized. (was supposed to be at the park but it was really chilly that day, so hopefully next time!) Hopefully soon we’re going to hit one of the local trails and do a lil hike with all the kids. Another friend is going to organize kickball or tball with all the kids. We walk the pond often and bring our bikes for the kids to ride. The other day I took the kids to the bakery and I let them each pick something for breakfast and we took it to the pond. I also printed a few blank reading lists, and when we read 100 books we’re going to host an ice cream party. If we read another 100, we’ll have another one! Then some afternoons I’ll skip “room time” and do a read-aloud chapter book with the kids, ages 5 and 4, (we love the Magic Tree House series) out on the trampoline or out on the porch. Sometime in the next couple weeks the kids are going to make letters and pictures for various friends and family across the country and we’re going to get a little tour of the post office, and they’ll see how mail is sorted and where it goes. Then we’ll come home and they’ll journal about it. So far we’ve been having a blast this summer! I LOVE having my kids home! It gives me a chance to get my nerd on and plan all this fun stuff!! =)

  30. I loved this idea…I have done something similar with my 4 boys and it has worked wonderfully. We usually do reading, computer, lego and drawing centers. Thank you for this reminder as the summer is kicking off.

  31. You are a genius! I have 4 boys too and while I have my own ways to “divide and conquer” things can get out of hand. Thanks for the idea, two hours away from each other is just what they need sometimes.

  32. I love this idea. Mine definitely need time apart from each other every day! Smart momma with the laundry too – I need to do that!

  33. Thanks SO much for this post! I discovered it the other day and implemented it right away. Much to my delight, it worked beautifully and we definitely didn’t have as much bickering, etc. Great idea!!

  34. You are a genius!! I usually let my girls pick 1 cartoon on the “On Demand” section of our cable (they like Berenstain Bears, Olivia, etc.) in the afternoon, and then they play for the rest of the day. But they definitely get bored, and drive me nuts. I need to try this!

  35. Umm…I am totally stealing this “station rotation” thingy! What a genius idea! My boys drive me bananas most days (and I only have 2 that can fight). What will I ever do when SJ is old enough to be thrown in the mix and our adopted child too! AHHHH! Really love these suggestions! Thanks for sharing!

  36. What a wonderful idea. I know lots of moms who require ‘quiet time’ during the early afternoon and require an hour of reading, resting, etc. But, no one that I know of structures the time this way. Gonna share this idea on my homeschool loop and on my f/b page!

  37. Oooh!!! This is Sooooooo GOOD! We have four boys too and we homeschool. We do a year round schedule, but I think this we be awesome for the afternoons pretty much year round! Love it. Thank you. I always find myself needing catch up time. Imagine what I can get done in two hours! Oh, the possibilities. :) Do you mind if I share your story on my blog?

  38. Love this! May have to use it when my boys are older, but I will totally steal this. My hubby is out of town and I SO need 2 hours a day. At least.

  39. I have to pass this on to my son….He is the stay at home dad,trying to finish his degree on line before his GI stuff runs out…so Sgt.Cain runs a in house day care with his three kids. so from the oldest of 7 going down to one of the day care boys of almost 1yr…the queen of all this mayhem is my granddaughter of 2 going on 16 ….with all the kids out of school,my other son who is blind helps out….Mom works as a CPS officer….so good care,strong focus,fair discipline….but this is a great idea….to give him a moment during naps with the younger ones…thanks…have fun at Haven wish it was closer….

  40. Thanks for the great idea! We tried it yesterday for the first time and was a hit! We did 5 activities with 20 minute rotations…
    Play with 2 yr old little sister (helped free up my time and gave good one on one sibling time with her)
    Computer / learning games


  41. I only have one boy, which has it’s own challenges — entertain me constantly.

    I am going to try to adapt this idea for my 5-year-old. Not sure I can get an u interrupted 2 hours, but I will take what I can get. Thanks for sharing.

  42. What a brilliant idea! Would love to feature it on my blog soon, if that’s okay, and will link back to you for all the deets. I only have one child, but I can see adapting this to her schedule too…. and make sure she keeps up with some laundry and summer reading too!

  43. genius. pure genius. my 4 boys are awesome, but sometimes i just need a minute or two to finish a coherent thought. in the middle of the day, i sometimes can’t imagine making it all the way to bedtime with my little active ones. it’s nice to know i’m not alone.

  44. Love this! I have 3 young boys and a 9 year old daughter. I really think we could benefit from this! I might have to shorten the time for the little guys until they get used to it, but I am so excited! :)

  45. Love this idea….my mom used to do something similar with us when we were young and annoyed with one another from “too much togetherness.” ;-) I only have one child at home who is not a teen, but I think even he would benefit from the station idea. I especially like how you worked the laundry chore in……sneaky!

  46. I loved this pin!!! I thought making one of the stations a special alone time with mom would be a good idea for some days cause it can be difficult to steal a few quiet moments with each child individually. It doesn’t have to be anything special planned just some uninterrupted time alone to connect, sort of a less elaborate home version of a mother/daughter or mother/son date. Saying this, I realize that it doesn’t give you personal time, so I wouldn’t do it every time, maybe save it for the less crazy days! I always mean to set aside that time anyways but more often than not I forget, so this is a great way to just build it in!
    Also some commenters were wondering about the movie and only watching a half hour of it. My kids would likely not want to move on without finishing the entire video so I would put on a simple half hour show such as a veggie tales or 3-2-1 penguins, that way there is no griping about not getting to finish the movie.
    I loved this and I’m so doing it!!!

  47. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not
    sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  48. Before I came back to work, my 4yr old (2/3 at the time) was enrolled in So we did online activities together for an hr or so, eventually she didn’t need my help. We also did arts/crafts (drawing, coloring, etc.) for a half hr, outdoor play time (And yes, I DID go out and play too) which included kick ball, mini golf, catch, scooters & bicycles. There was story time, movies, and my favorite….nap time : )

  49. This just made my day. So thankful it came up on my FB feed. I’m just hitting the phase that 2 of my 3 kids are too old for naps and I am re-adjusting how to handle them all home for summer when I don’t have that “me time” to get caught up on the things I usually do at naptime.

  50. I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old and both girls, I was wondering when you had started them on this I like the idea and neither one of the girls like to take a nap.

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