Summer Planning for Families

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Having a plan, even a loose one, can help summer days be more enjoyable and productive for the whole family.

Week two of our summer vacation is behind us. It was busy, as always. While it was happening though, I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing much. But looking at the list, I guess it wasn’t just all staring off into space. Here’s how we spent it:

  • Doctor’s appointment for the girls, plus shots. And a return trip to check the TB test.
  • Date night at Chipotle followed by a trip to the movie theater with FishPapa. It was just like the old days before we had kids. That Groupon paid off – $15 for two tickets and a large popcorn. The popcorn was normally $7.50 – what are those people thinking?!
  • An immersion into the Marvel Movie Universe. On date night, we saw The Avengers. I’m not a comic book fan, but I loved that movie! And it set us off on a quest to watch all the other movies leading up to it. We watched three over the weekend. I am smitten.
  • Swimming lessons for five of the kids.
  • Homemade plum sorbet. Yum!
  • A reenactment of Alice in Wonderland, put on by the four youngest children.
  • A night off on my own to work on writing projects. After failed wi-fi at Chick-fil-a, Starbucks saved the night.
  • A big day of cooking wherein I made four loaves of zucchini bread, zucchini brownies (yes, really), fruit chopped and frozen for smoothies, roasted beets, homemade croutons, chicken marinade, salsa, guacamole, and refried black beans. (I like to get it all out of the way at once.)
  • Four trips to the grocery store. Yes, four.

What are my summer intentions?

While I did cross off a fair number of items from my to-do list, the days seemed to roll by in a daze. It reminded me of a book I once read wrote. You know, The Summer Survival Guide.

I decided I needed a reread, so I spent some time this weekend reading and reminding myself of how to make the summer a little more intentional for me and the kids.

(It’s summer for hubs, too, but his daily routine doesn’t change as much as ours does.)

I printed out five copies of the Summer To Do List, and the kids jumped at the chance to fill out the forms. I was a little surprised, actually. In years past, I’ve had to nudge them to make me a list. But apparently, they were feeling it, too. The youngest ones were quick to hand their lists to a big brother and dictate what they wanted to do this summer.

I compiled their lists into one:

  1. Play with the neighbor crowd.
  2. Watch movies.
  3. Go to the beach.
  4. Go to Legoland.
  5. Jacob comes to see us! (This is a friend from KC, coming for a week.)
  6. Go visit the grandparents.
  7. Eat at Souplantation.
  8. Go to the pier.
  9. All-you-can-eat buffet
  10. Broken Yolk
  11. Crafts
  12. Baking
  13. Board games
  14. Read alouds
  15. Pizza/movie night
  16. Hang with Uncle Jace

I was a little surprised at some of the things they put on their lists, like all-you-can-eat buffet and Souplantation? OK. Those were kind of random, but I’ll look into it.

I’m considering making  an all-you-can-eat-buffet at home by getting their favorite take-out (pizza, fried chicken, Chinese food) and sodas and letting them have at it. They would be over the moon with that.

Finding a weekly rhythm

I’m also looking at adding some kind of rhythm to our weeks. It seems like the last two weeks have been filled with appointments. This kept us “doing something”, but not necessarily fun something. I talked about this weeks ago in this post, but it hasn’t yet come to fruition.

the red queen (without the big head)

So, I’m looking at this formula to build our weeks around this summer:


  • chores
  • Bible time/family read aloud
  • crafts, baking, creative play
  • outside play

Throughout the week

  • library – once a week
  • play day with friends – once a week
  • pool – at least four days out of seven


  • movie nights – at least twice a week
  • family outings (beach, pier, Souplantation) – once a week
  • game night – once a week

I don’t want to fill every waking moment, but at the same time, we need a little structure and direction to help get us moving.

I’ll admit: with kids ranging in age from 3 to 15, it’s been a challenge to make things suit everyone. I’ve needed to provide for alternate activities in some instances.

And I still haven’t worked out a daily schedule/routine that works for everyday. Life is subject to change.

Do you have big summer plans?

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  1. FishChick3 looks so sweet in her red queen gown! She is getting so grown-up! I still think she is the cuttest little girl I have ever seen! Have a wonderful summer.
    God bless, Kathy in Illinois

  2. Souplantation IS an all you can eat buffet, no? The east coast version, called Sweet Tomatoes, is.

    1. I think so. But, he put both on his list. I suppose we will investigate further.

  3. Love the 31 large utility tote with “FishFam” personalization! As a consultant for 31, I get excited when I moms’ lives being simplified by our products. I bet this one stays packed for the pool!

  4. Our plan looks a lot like yours, but with a little more school-stuff. I have an energetic, creative 4 year old, and a 9 year old with ADHD & SPD. We absolutely must have a plan for each day so the my special needs guy knows what to expect. Last summer we tried a more loosey-goosey, no plan approach, but had way too many meltdowns in the week. This year is much more planned out, but still flexible.

  5. You could always combine “hang out with the neighborhood crowd” and “all you can eat buffet” and have a big ole potlock buffet! We do this in our neighborhood about three times a year and the kids just love it.

  6. Love the Thirty-One Large Utility Tote! I have 3 of them and they are always packed and ready to go 🙂

  7. I had to chuckle when I read you had been smitten after watching The Avengers. The same thing happened to me after watching it with my boys. We have watched both Iron Man movies and hope to watch all the others as time allows over the course of the summer.

    1. Oh, we are getting all crazy with it. We watching the Hulk last night (not deemed as good as the others) and just have Captain America left to go. I want to take the kids to The Avengers, but that might be too $$$.

  8. You summed it up how summer can get busy with all the dreams of summer pushed to the side. I’m going to have to adopt your idea of having the kids make a list (and me and my husband as well!)

    Love the Avengers movies – glad you found them!

    Also to add to the plan – family fitness. Getting active together is one of the best time to build family and strong bodies. I’ve put together a 7-day make-your-family-fitness-plan that I invite all your readers to check out. It will help you make family fitness an integral part of your summer plans:

    1. Between the regular pool days and hockey practice, I think we’re good. Thanks for making a great point. I gotta get back in my own exercise groove.

  9. My family summer bucket list seems to haunt me some days. I need to pull out a calendar and actually attach dates to a few of them to make sure we accomplish them! So far, we have only completed 3 of them. I definitely need to find a little more structure in the weekends too. Thanks for the post!

    1. Well, don’t let the list haunt you. Make sure that you rule the list and not the other way around.

  10. thanks so much for your intentionality! i had put off planning our summer, feeling like a boring mom (sitting around waiting to deliver my #4 baby), but i finally started my bucket list & was surprised with what fun things jumped out!! “let them go crazy on the waterslide in the yard” & “camp out” are certainly activities i can accomplish at 38 weeks. now i’m super excited to be so purposed!

  11. Jessica, for souplantation if you join their club, you get some kind of coupon sent to you. Also, you get a buy 1 get one free on the anniversary of your joining and on your birthday. The last 2 times we have been there, they let me use the coupon twice! Can you believe that? Our bill was cut in half and it made it economical so I would ask if they will do that if you go there. Lunch is cheaper and if any of your friends have the kids cup, you can go in with the cups and the kids drinks are free each time you return with the cups. At least it is a healthier buffet than other types and they do have ice cream to top it off! They let us use the coupon twice for the mothers day late breakfast so we ended up spending what we would have for fast food for the four of us and with 2 teen boys, they actually got enough to eat!

  12. Good timing! We have been either running to appointments or huddling in the ac.

  13. Ahhh, it was so nice to see “Hang with Uncle Jace” on the list. It’s so sweet that they have developed such a good relationship. I’m a teeny bit jealous…but I guess that is my fault for moving to the other side of the country.