When you visualize how you'll feel at the end of the summer, what will you look like? How will you feel? How will your kids feel?
Summer is my favorite time of year because I love the flexibility and I love having my kids all home with me. This past year I had a 4th grader, 1st grader, and a kid in transitional kindergarten (pre-K), plus a toddler. Managing all of the emails almost put me over the edge. I am in love with my quiet inbox now that school has ended!
I don't like to plan far in advance, but once the end of May was approaching and I knew that I would have all my kids home soon, I started thinking about what our summer was going to look like. Obviously I wanted it to be awesome AND I wanted to feel like I helped it to be successful.
In order to make sure that I am successful mom this summer, I created a simple 6-step planning process to help me get organized!
My Plan for a Successful Summer!
1. Define what a successful summer looks like for you!
When I got started visualizing summer together with my family, I shut off Pinterest and Instagram and stopped looking at all of the cutesy ideas and printables and summer bucket list ideas. There are so many AMAZING ideas out there, but often I find that I get distracted from what my family really needs when I get too wrapped up in other people's idea of what success is. Then I started thinking my summer needs to look Pinterest perfect too and then a whole added layer of stress is added on.
I HAD TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT PERFECTION.
My mantra is, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."
A successful summer for us includes learning new things, visiting new places, being active, eating treats, starting new traditions (and revisiting old favorites), and spending a lot of time with our family and friends. It also includes regular bedtimes and daily chores.
When I try and define what a successful summer looks like, I also define what we don't do in the summer. We don't do tons of full-day all week summer camps. We like time to roam free, explore, and go on adventures. We don't have parties or stressful events. Pretty much every event we host is poolside at our HOA's clubhouse... to save me from having to clean my house! We don't do workbooks! I am all about hands on learning. Once kids hit kindergarten they get PLENTY of workbooks and busy work, so I don't buy those.
Some other visualization questions I like to think about are...
How are my family relationships going to feel at the end of the summer?
How am I going to feel at the end of the summer (health wise)?
How is my home going to feel at the end of the summer?
Once I've listed these things out and tried to answer them, then I am ready to move onto making a more strategic plan.
Now, writing this all out makes it seem like this is a super long process... but it isn't. I sat poolside this afternoon just brainstorming and planning and it didn't take more than a few minutes.
2. Make a plan
My buzz word for this summer is DELIBERATE.
Deliberate parents make plans and create an environment where things happen. I listened to a friend speak at a church event recently about being deliberate parents. He mentioned that it doesn't always have to be YOU that is doing everything, teaching everything, or leading everything. You can be the person orchestrating it all, but you can bring in others that help you create and successfully execute an amazing plan.
Making a plan starts by looking at my visualizations and dreams... and then taking them down a notch and making them actual possibilities. In order to make a plan, I need to figure out the moving parts of each situation and decide what steps need to happen in order for my dreams to become a reality.
For example, this summer we are going to have an organized house. I want my kids to participate in helping keep our house looking decent.
In order to do that, here are some of the steps in my organization plan...
- Put together house organization assignments for each kid
- Tell the kids about my goal for avoiding a pigsty!
- Show my kids their daily and weekly assignments
- Teach them how to accomplish their jobs!
In addition to having an organized house, we made a giant brain dump of ideas of fun things to do this summer. Nothing was off limits. No criticism was allowed. The toddler ONLY wants to see the fishies at the mall and the aquarium, so we wrote that down.
Now, each week when we are planning on Sunday, we have plenty of ideas to pull from... and we just need to figure out where we can fit them! The kids have fun getting to take turns choosing what we do next on our free days.
I also made a plan to lower my expectations. That makes me less worried about whether we follow a plan or not... but it is so nice to have structure and a proposed plan at least!
3. Get other people involved
Two of my good friends were really on the ball this year and decided to create a Summer Activity schedule. Working with other people is more motivating. They asked me to help them, so we figured out a system where we do one pool day each week (rotating to different pools) and we do an adventure day every week or every other week (ie. beach trip, local splash pads, etc).
Once we had the schedule semi-ironed out, we emailed it out to friends so that a bunch of people could join in! It has been SO FUN. The kids get to visit new places and spend time with friends, and I get some time to chat with friends.
We are all much more motivated to do fun things with our kids when we know we have a mom squad. Toddler tantrums are a lot easier to deal with when you friend's kid just had their own... and you've got some back up emotional support. Also, ten-year-olds are much more excited about family adventures when you occasionally throw in an activity and their best buds are tagging along.
4. Set up some routines
Similar to having a plan, establishing some typical summer routines can make long days shorter. On days when we are home for the day, we stick to this basic plan...
Relax (watch some tv)
Morning adventure (park, errands, camp)
Naptime (toddler)/screen time (big kids)/skill time
Bed (lights out at 8pm)
We are also trying to get the kids into a good routine of getting their summer checklists done every day.
If you want something like this to try, click on the link below for the free download:
5. Keep a record
Lastly, we try and document our summer! Having a big poster board that has our list of activities for the summer is awesome!
Taking a lot of pictures and posting them on my personal Instagram account is great too! My goal is to someday make Chattbooks or a photo book, but for now having the photos digitally available and on a chart listed for the kids to read works great too. They LOVE seeing all of the things we've accomplished at the end of the summer! It is amazing how memories can just flood back as we look through pictures.
6. Your tips
What else helps you enjoy the summer and feel like it was successful??