Summer vacation started on Friday. What this means at our house is that we shift to a more relaxed mode of living. The kids still have some schoolwork (math and reading) and daily chores each day, but overall, they are free to play, read, draw, and otherwise explore their options and let creative boredom be their guide. What this means for me is that I can focus on enrichment learning and reorganizing.
Our change of schedule has been energizing for me. I know, sounds weird. But, the previous “routine,” if we could call it that, was dragging. I was simply going through the motions of chores, meals, and school work.
This past weekend, I spent some time thinking through a summer routine — and I’m excited for the change of pace. Out with the old and in with the new! I started scheming about outings, learning activities, books to read, and movies to see. Even my meal planning is getting a summer makeover!
On Sunday night we went out for pizza and then walked along a beautiful paved walkway overlooking flower fields and the ocean. I tested everyone on their skipping and galloping. Yes, yes, I did. I was the crazy lady leading a pack of kids.
The weather was perfect — and we parents sighed collectively, “Summer is here!”
Back at the ranch, I scoured my storage cupboards, closets, and Walmart for some tools to add to my bag of tricks this summer. I still have some things to do or to locate, but I’m getting organized for a summertime groove.
Here’s how I’m gearing up for summer:
1. Create a Summer Fun Planner
I flipped through the Summer Survival Guide on my computer and printed out the forms and activity sheets that we are going to need in the next 10 weeks. I printed the daily to do lists as well as a weekly meal plan on cardstock and laminated those pages. In that way, I can reuse the same sheet every day and week and use less paper. I also printed out weekly and monthly calendars as well as reading lists for both me and the kids.
I compiled all these into a fun binder that everyone can access. I could have incorporated them into my household notebook, but I want this to be accessible by everybody in the family, so I think a binder works best. Plus, they can pull activity sheets at will.
My kids love to contribute to the summer plans, so I also printed out several copies of the “Summer To Do” lists so that each kid could start his own list.
If you’re interested in getting your own copy of the Summer Survival Guide, you can get buy it in the FishMama shop.
2. Build an “I’m Bored” Box
Next, I ventured out into the storage garage to my craft cabinet and dug out all these cool things that I’ve been “meaning” to do with the kids, but never have.
All sorts of cool stuff lurked in there like shadow paper, puzzle books, activity books, and lots of sticker paper. I’m sure I’ll stumble across more things, so I’m gathering all my loot in a Sterilite tote for easy access as well as making a mental note of what things we can do, so that I can be more intentional about doing them.
I bet you have a bunch of cool stuff hiding in a cupboard, too.
3. Check the Activity Bags
Have bag, will travel, right? We’ve found that if we have items packed and ready to go, the battle is half won in terms of getting out the door.
After several months in hibernation, our activity bags needed rejuvenation. My kids’ interests and ages have changed over the last year, so I needed to replenish and adjust the contents of our park and play bags as well as replenish the picnic bag. Plus, I’ve found that we rarely need bug spray here; last year’s bottles are still full. But, I do need to restock our supply of sunscreen. So, my eyes are peeled for a good sale.
4. Stock up on Summer Gear
As our kids get older, I’m realizing that different gadgets, tools, and accessories are helpful to our family, especially during summer.
Our famous fanny packs come to mind as do clip-on water bottle holders. Walkie-talkies help us when we’re hiking or sprawled out across a park. Timers keep my gamers (a little) more under control. Head lamps and light sticks are also a cool addition to our stash for nighttime adventures.
Making sure we have these things at hand is really helpful.
5. Do a Clothes, Shoes, & Hats Check
They’re just growing like weeds! No one in our family has a very extensive wardrobe, but there are so core items that we rely on during summer: sweatshirts and easy slip on shoes.
Nights — and days — get cool here, so we like to keep sweatshirts in the car at all times. Easier said than done! My teenage boy has now ventured into the men’s department. And did you know that no one carries hoodies anymore? I found zero sweatshirts in my searching. Now to scour some online sales.
I also checked everyone’s feet for sandal/croc access and made sure that everyone had what he needed in terms of summertime footwear. My big boy is outgrowing shoes faster than you can say BigFoot.
My little people are really thankful for their new cool shoes. Crocs* sent us a couple pairs of their new Chameleons — and they are super cool! They change color in the sun, something that FishBoy7 and FishChick4 think is pretty cool. Watch for a sale — your kids will love these.
And now that all my kids are old enough to keep hats on their heads, every boy has a new Padres cap and the girls have floppy pink sunhats.
6. Buy Health & Safety Supplies
I don’t know about you, but our family gets a summer cold every year. I’m hoping I can prevent it this year. I loaded us up with a supply of multi-vitamins to fill in the gaps as well as a box of EmergenC, my favorite source of vitamin C, besides fresh fruit and vegetables.
I’ve also replenished our bandaid supply and am keeping my eye open for sales on other first aid items. I can’t guarantee that no one will get sick or hurt, but I can do my best to offset the effects.
The above action items really did not take that much time. But, I know that it is going to be a busy ten weeks. Even though we don’t have massive amounts of schoolwork, everyone is keeping up with his studies in math and literature. We also have weekly field trips planned as well as The Cookbook to finish. (With all the recipes to test and test again, it really is a family affair.)
Gearing up for summer is a great way to make the summer with my family more enjoyable. I am hopeful that a little preplanning will go a long way.