Summer is here! Or almost here. Does that realization fill you with pure elation or dread…or maybe a little bit of both? As a mom of 4 kids, our summers are filled with fun, but there are still challenges. I am also finding that summers with babies and toddlers looked very different than the current stage I’m in with kids spanning 6 years old to 14 years old. We are moving from endless days at the pool and park playdates to more time with friends, individual camps, and fewer moments where we are all at home at the same time. Whatever your stage in life, I want to share with you some things we do every summer that help us to plan a summer that has the right balance of routine and fun. For us, it comes down to being intentional. And yes, I believe you can be spontaneous and flexible and still be intentional.
4 Ways to Plan an Intentional Summer
1. Giant Summer Calendar
I’m not going to lie…this is a labor of love. I have been spending the last week moving everything from my google calendar over to our GIANT (I printed the 36”x48” version) summer calendar. I buy this every year from 8-minute classes and then order an architectural print from FedEx. The whole process takes me less than 5 minutes and then pick-up time. The labor of love comes with filling in everyone’s schedule manually.
I love having a calendar that everyone can see. We can get excited for our trips together as a family, look ahead to our favorite family traditions, and can be intentional as a family about how we are spending our days. Now that my kids are getting older, I use a different color for each child so their individual activities are listed and they can easily see what fun things they have coming up. I hang mine up using this magnetic frame. Also, I love these pens for filling in the calendar.
2. Summer Bucket List
We have been doing this tradition for about 10 years and it never gets old. At the beginning of summer, we write a huge list of all the things we want to do. We write down planned vacations and activities and things we hope we will do. Some are small (make smores, get snow cones, play pickleball) and some are bigger wishes that require planning (go to a rodeo, eat dinner in the mountains, plant a garden).
We check off each item as we do them. Every kid gets to contribute their ideas and hopes for the summer and we try to make space for the things that really matter. When possible, we plan the big things on the summer calendar right away to make space for them. I don’t cater to every request my kids have, but listen and come up with ideas that are practical for our budget and availability. This year our kids asked if we could go to the local amusement park. It was easy to show them that our summer is already quite planned and spending a day at the amusement park would actually mean missing out on other traditions that are more meaningful.
Here’s the secret: write EVERYTHING down. Even after you’ve done something spontaneous…add it to the list. Did friends invite you over for a campfire? Did you go on an impromptu hike? At the end of the summer, reflecting on our Summer Bucket List is always so much fun as we reminisce and get ready for a new school year. It helps us remember all the big and little things and celebrate the time spent instead of being sad it’s over.
We place it in a prominent place in our home and are constantly crossing things off and adding to it through the summer.
3. Chore Chart
I know, I know…chore charts don’t work for everyone. We are usually really good at implementing a chore chart each summer for a few weeks, but then the first time we go out of town and come home…all best intentions are forgotten. However, I still really love chore charts and after a lot of tweaking, am back at using them again this year…even with my 14-year-old. This year our chore charts are simpler than ever. We are tracking tidy rooms and lockers, daily household chores, personal hygiene (sad, but true), piano practice, reading, and individual goals. In years past I got ambitious and had many more line items, but am trying to make this summer
A chore chart establishes clear expectations for kids. It provides structure and routine and a visual way to check in with daily tasks. A chore chart can help create boundaries with devices (ie- no devices until chores are complete). It can create a basic foundation for allowance. Check out our customizable chore chart for a basic template you can modify for each child.
4. Goals With a Big Payoff
I love goals and always want my kids to be able to look back at the end of the summer with a grateful heart for the fun memories, but also with a sense of accomplishment. The way we execute this each year looks different, but this year I gave each family member a few days to think about their 3 summer goals.
1. Reading goal. They each came up with a different goal.
2. Fitness goal. They each came up with a goal to either learn a new skill or work daily to improve a skill in one of their sports.
3. Learn something new. Each family member made an extra goal just for them to develop a new skill or complete a project out of their comfort zone. My 14-year-old may have made the goal to ‘grind any handrail’ and my 6-year-old’s goal is to finish a had tie blanket she started at Christmas… needless to say these are not the goals I would have made for them. However, I love that they chose something that interests them and that will give them their own sense of accomplishment.
After each family member wrote down their 3 goals and how we are going to track and measure success, we decided on the payoff that would make the efforts worth it. We decided that at the end of the summer if we are all successful we will go and stay one night in Park City and go on the alpine slide and then do some back-to-school shopping at the outlets. We all agreed that this type of mini-adventure would be a great way to end the summer and celebrate accomplishing our goals.
I hope you find these ideas helpful. I truly believe that any of them can be modified for households of all ages, shapes, and sizes. If you end up trying one or all of my tips, I want to hear how it works for you. Happy summer friends!
Jen Martin is the founder of Reset Your Nest, Utah's premier home organization business. At Reset Your Nest we believe pantries should be just as beautiful as living spaces, and living spaces just as functional as pantries. To schedule a free consultation with Reset Your Nest, click HERE. Make sure to subscribe to the Reset Your Nest blog for new posts in your inbox, and follow Reset Your Nest on Instagram for organizational tips and tricks.