Summer is the perfect time for fun and relaxation, but it can also be a little crazy when you're trying to plan three months worth of kids' activities. All the planning can be stressful and overwhelming, leaving you feeling anxious and frazzled.
We've been helping families plan fun and balanced summers for almost a decade now and one of the trickiest parts of planning is getting a big picture vision of how all the activities, vacations, parties, camps and outings fit together.
With just a little bit of organization you can get a clear idea of how the summer is shaping up, leaving you free to enjoy time with your family instead of fretting over it. Here are 10 simple tips to help you plan your summer break with ease:
- Create a Summer Bucket List: Get the whole family involved in creating a summer bucket list. Brainstorm activities and events that you want to do as a family and make a plan to check them off throughout the summer. We like to give kids sticky notes and let them jot down their ideas and put them in the margins of the calendar.
- Set a Budget: Summer activities can add up quickly, so it's important to set a budget for all the fun you have planned. When we set a realistic budget and talk with kids about the cost of activities, we can teach them money-management and planning at the same time.
- Have a Family Team Meeting: With a 30 minute conversation you can get clarity on which activities are high-priority, which will create the most memories and what's within your budget. The goal of this communication is not to grant everyone's wishes, rather to have a realistic conversation about what activities are most important and what is feasible from a time, energy and money standpoint.
- Use a Family Calendar: That's where we come in! Our Summer Break Calendar is designed to hold all your family's summer fun and let everyone see it at a glance! It's helpful if the calendar is in a high-traffic area so that everyone can be a part of the planning and anticipation.
- Plan Ahead: Avoid last-minute scrambling by planning summer activities early. Book camps and vacations as soon as possible to ensure availability. It can also be nice to create packing lists and travel itineraries in advance Any details that you can prepare ahead of time will reduce travel stress and make your departure more efficient and easeful.
- Be Flexible: Remember to be flexible with your plans. Unexpected events can pop up, so it's important to be able to adjust your expectations. My (Lindsay's) family likes to travel internationally and one of the skills we practice when we travel is learning to "go with the flow." With language barriers, plane or train delays, and culture differences, we choose to be flexible when we could get frustrated.
- Take Advantage of Free Activities: Summer is full of free activities, such as parades, outdoor movies, visiting parks, going for hikes, or attending other community events. Check your local Facebook groups, city or county websites and neighborhood groups to take advantage of these opportunities to save money while still having fun.
- Enlist Help: Don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. If you need a break, ask someone to take your kids for a few hours, hire a babysitter or offer to do a swap with another family. College students can also make great helpers during the summer. Having someone come over a few times a week to help with housework or take kids to activities can be a lifesaver. When you're planning camps for your kids, take a big-picture view and enroll them during times when you could use a break.
- Keep it Simple: Sometimes the simplest activities can be the most fun. Don't feel like you need to plan extravagant vacations or activities to have a memorable summer. Your kids will likely remember that cardboard dollhouse they spent hours making just as much as they remember the trip to the coast.
- Relax and Have Fun: Above all, remember to relax and have fun. Summer is a time to create memories with your family, so don't get too caught up in the planning and forget to be present in the little moments. These summers with our kids go by quickly so give yourself permission to have fun no matter what you're doing.
With a little bit of planning and organization, you can enjoy this summer like never before. These 10 simple tips will help you create a memorable summer break while keeping your stress levels in check. Take a few minutes now to pull out the post it notes, ask the kids for input and schedule a meeting to go over your plans. Our summer break calendar is a great place to keep track of your adventures. Remember to stay flexible, enlist help when needed, and most importantly, have fun!