We always have a huge mental list going at the beginning of summer, a list of all the things we want to do, places we want to go, deliciousness we want to stuff in our faces. We see this never-ending bucket of free-time and think we’ll get to do EVERYTHING. Then the summer ends and we find we’ve done almost kind of a little bit nothing.
I’ve tried writing down the list or typing it into my phone but we still get distracted and waste a lot of time and miss out on doing the Awesome. And everyone cries. And we vow to do more and do it better next year.
So the past few years, I’ve done a couple of things to plan better. First I make a giant calendar and put everything on it with sticky notes. Second, I have a daily planning meeting with the kids where we decide what we’ll do the following day and how we’ll do it. Info on the kids’ planning notebooks will be available on HowDoesShe.com tomorrow.
Here’s a little bit about how I do the big calendar.
I start by getting little sticky notes in a bunch of colors. I “made” these this year by cutting standard sticky notes into four equal pieces and only using the top two pieces because they are capable of bringing the sticky.
Then I drew out a calendar on a piece of poster board with day squares big enough to fit a sticky in each one. This requires a little math, just enough to keep your summer brain as sharp as a Cutco salesman’s demo knife, but not so much as to make you cry.
Then I choose a color of sticky for each type of activity. I have a color for:
–Vacations and other pre-scheduled activities – this includes, camping trips, vacations, out-of-town guests, piano lessons, dental appointments, concerts, festivals, etc.
–Beaches, parks, and pools – I asked around on a local community Facebook group for pool, park and beach suggestions and we have discovered a TON of new places we didn’t know about before. Especially if you’re new to an area, asking around can save you a lot of research time.
–Hikes and walks – I was shocked when I found out how many trails were within a VERY short distance of my house.
–Museums, tours, and historic sites – In our plan this includes science centers, museums, factory tours, tours of local sports stadiums, free or cheap movies, and any other cool and interesting local treasures
–Projects and activities at home – While the kids are looking for sugar and swimming pools, my favorite summer activities involve child labor. I like to include big house projects as part of the festivities.
We don’t only list things we think we have time for. We make a sticky note for EVERYTHING we can think of and place them on the poster board next to the calendar. Then we start sticking them on the calendar. This is a great way to realistically see that we don’t have infinite days in the summer (BOO!) and that we have to make some hard choices. It lets us prioritize and we get to do and see WAY more than we would otherwise.
The nice thing about the sticky notes is that if you’re feeling over-extended or like you just need a mental health day, you can easily remove things from the calendar and put them back in the holding area.
My final piece of advice is – type all the ideas into a document on your phone so that next year you can pick up where you left off. Maybe star your favorites so you remember to do them again.
Good luck! I hope your summer is filled with joy, fun, and just the right amount of house scrubbing, hopefully done by someone other than yourself.