» Syndicated from TimeOutMom
Summer is upon us! School is letting out all across North America this month. You know what? Summer can also slip away fast and you can end up at the end of the summer wondering “What did we do?” “What school starts next week?” “Didn’t we want to go here or go there or do that?”
While I do believe in lots of fun free unplanned time in the summer for kids just to be free. I am also a planner at heart and love that free time within an overall structure. Last year, I came up with a plan for our family of how everyone could have input on how we were going to spend our summer having lots of fun.
SUPPLIES: Purchase two large poster boards; either foam core or thick cardboard. I know you could do this all modern-like on the computer, but trust me, it’s more fun and interactive with poster board and markers. This task is so much fun to generate ideas and brainstorm on big surfaces everyone can see at once with colorful markers and crayons. Plus you are going to put these up somewhere like the mud room or family office to keep on track this summer.
Step One: Plan out scope of summer
There are only so many days in the summer and that is immovable. Writing out all of the days of your summer is very important to this process. It was interesting to see that when there are only 97 days from June 1st to September 5th that includes 10 weekends, how this affects the planning process. This is very finite and this allows you to see a picture that only so much can be done in this time frame and not everything every single person wants to do can be done.
So write out each and every day of your summer in the following format: Monday, June 1st. The days of the week are important when planning around any parents that work and even getting deals and specials on weekdays at hotels or venues. Also, write in any activities that have already been planned at this point like summer camp or day camps or visits to relatives. Once this is done all the way through Monday, September 3rd (Labor Day), put this board aside.
Step Two: Brainstorming
Take this next poster board and divide it into columns – one column per person in the house. Be sure to include each and every person – parents and kids of all ages. We want to know what dad wants to do and even what a two or three year old wants to do. My youngest was 3.5 last summer and is 4.5 now and he sure has a whole lot of input on our family activities and what he wants to do!
Ask each person to write down or dictate to you every single thing they hope to do this summer that will fit in that column. This could be anything from going to the beach, to running through the sprinkler, to going on a picnic, to bigger things like going camping or to an amusement park. If you have any creative people in your house they may even want to add drawings/pictures next to their activities for fun and to help out the pre-readers. Have fun sharing, wishing, and dreaming!
Once everyone is done filling up their columns, ask each person to back to the board and circle their top top three things that if you were sitting around on Labor Day in September looking back on the summer… they would be most happy that they did that summer.
Step Three: Creating the Plan
So, now that you have everyone’s top three activities, see and discuss if these are feasible this summer within your family’s budget and overall vacation time for any working parents. Really listen to what your kids want and make sure they understand what is involved with some of the bigger trips and how that may influence the overall budget of the summer.
One mom I know was actually planning a big vacation using the entire summer’s budget going somewhere “big time” and then after she did this activity with the entire family. The kids really wanted to do much simpler and more frequent weekend-type getaways like camping!
Now, it’s time to marry the agreed upon activities with the actual structure of the dog days of the summer. So pull out your board with the actual days and dates available and write in when you are going to do those activities. You may need to re-group for this process if there are hotel arrangements to be made or work time to request off.
Post both poster boards up in a central location like your kitchen, or your mud room, or even your office. I post both and never throw away the brainstorming board because it’s great to see everyone’s individual ideas and you never know when you have some unexpected bandwidth to do something additional in the summer. Then you can just go over to the original brainstorming board and pick something from it.
The End Result
What we found is that there are good intentions and lots of wishes at the start of the summer, but what can we really do in ONE summer? How can we really do a variety of things for a variety of ages in our house? Now every single person in the family provided their ideas and input and we made sure that we did activities from each person’s wish list. Your summer plan can now be one that is realistic, successful, and filled with lots of fun!
What fun summer activities do you have planned for this summer? Have you asked each one of your children of all ages what THEY want to do this summer?
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