5 Tips for Planning a Great Summer
Summer 2022 is coming! Are you ready to plan for summer with kids?
Anyone with kids will tell you that the idea of summer sparks a little bit of panic in us all. The good news is that with a little bit of intentional forethought you can create a plan to have a successful summer with your kids.
Last week I hosted a workshop with my friend Becky from Clean Mama. We talked about this very topic and shared our advice and resources for preparing for the months ahead. Today, I’m sharing my top five tips for planning the summer.
First, we need to be clear about the purpose of planning. Having a plan does not mean things will go perfectly. You don’t make plans so that you can follow them to a T — we’re not striving for perfection. A plan gives you something to fall back on when you feel overwhelmed or stressed. There’s flexibility and forgiveness in creating a plan. When things get chaotic, a plan catches you from falling even further.
A plan is a gift you give your future self.
Now, let’s get to the planning. Here are five tips for planning a great summer!
1. Create a big picture plan for the summer.
Start by dreaming about what you want summer 2022 to look and feel like. Involve the whole family in this process. The older your kids are the more you’ll want to involve them in the big picturing planning. You will want their buy-in! I like to start by asking my children what they want the summer to feel like. What do they most want to do? How would their ideal summer look? Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with all the suggestions. You don’t have to take them all, but it’s important to hear everyone out.
2. Create a daily plan.
Now it’s time to break down summer 2022. After you’ve created the big picture for your summer, think about what your days are going to look like. We use a calendar to block off the things we know are coming – family vacations, weddings, camps. But one thing that’s really important to me Is the cadence that a daily routine gives us. Set the vision for what an “ideal summer day” looks like before the summer begins.
We build in FOB, or Flat On Back, time into our daily summer routine. FOB, a notion we got from a camp the kids attended a few years ago, involves everyone taking a quiet break. While no one actually has to be flat on their backs, everyone gets some time to do their own thing: take a nap, journal, read, or play quietly. As a nap lover, FOB is a must! What are your musts for a summer 2022 daily routine?
3. Create a 3-Ring Binder as a hub for your summer plans!
Every summer, our family puts together a 3-ring binder. It’s a living document and a scrapbook. We include our big picture summer plans along with goals or bucket list items we all want to accomplish. Recipes we hope to make (more on that below) and more! My kids are now at an age when they’ll pick up the binder when they’re looking for something to do. Use the Summer 2022 Kids Guidebook as a starting point for creating your family’s binder. Think of it as a kid’s summer planner and journal in one!
4. Spend time in the kitchen!
While the specific activities will vary with age, the kitchen is a great place to find summer activities for kids. Use it as an easy opportunity for your kids to learn more about math and science, not to mention how to clean up after themselves and, depending on their age, nutrition as well.
Here’s a handy guide for kitchen activities by age:
- For children ages 2-5, give them tasks that are simple and short. This could include pouring ingredients, mixing and stirring, measuring ingredients, or rolling out dough.
- For children ages 5-8, it’s time to introduce the skill of cracking eggs, using a mixer, using the microwave, using small paring knives, boiling water, and maybe even making grilled cheese or scrambling eggs.
- For ages 8-12, it’s time to learn how to formally use a larger knife to prep food. We are starting to practice things like turning on the oven, putting things in, taking them out, and setting a timer.
- And for ages 13 and up, it’s time to (hopefully!) relax a little bit on the supervision. At this age, kids should be able to use all appliances. I’ve noticed working with teens that explanation is still good—don’t expect them to figure it out on their own.
We’re still sorting out how much time we’ll spend in the kitchen but I know it will be an integral part of our summer. We might give the kids a night to cook or give them each one meal a week to prepare. Either way, I suggest keeping a list of summer recipes handy. Spend some time on Pinterest or browsing through your favorite cookbooks. Print or copy recipes and add them to your binder so they’re easily accessible. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of my absolute favorite summer recipes!
5. Use the summer to work on healthy boundaries and discipline.
The idea of getting your work done (whether that’s a traditional job or tasks around the house) so that you can do fun things is never more apparent than in the summer. The kids ask to go to the pool or to get ice cream, or to make a stop at the library nearly every day. I want to do those things too! But there are chores, work projects, school lessons, and family obligations that don’t stop in the summer.
David and I work from home and this can add an extra layer of chaos in the summer. This is a great opportunity for me to set boundaries around when and where I’ll work during the summer. By letting the kids know about these work time blocks, I’m being clear about my availability.
This summer I want to teach my kids (and remind myself) how to do the things we don’t necessarily want to do. There are two ways I’m motivated to get through my to-do list. The first is to do the thing that takes the least amount of time first. Start by making your list. Assign the amount of time you expect each task to take. Do the 5-minute tasks first. Crossing things off your list will give you the dopamine hit you need to keep going.
The second option is to motivate yourself to do the thing you don’t want to do first. This is my least favorite motivation tactic! For our family, the thing I don’t want to do is almost always, cleaning. We’ll be using Becky’s cleaning routine to build cleaning discipline in our lives!
Bonus tip! Have patience and give yourself (and your family members!) grace.
Patience is the name of the game in the summer months. My husband David and I joke that “flexibility” is one of our core family values. Being able to roll with the punches is essential in the summer. We’ve created a structure for our kids’ summer days but are staying flexible and giving ourselves grace too. Take it one next right thing at a time, have patience and be flexible with your time and energy. You are doing your best and you deserve to have a great summer!