Mom and daughter in field at sunset

Top Tips for Designing Your Summer With Kids

For most of our adult lives, my husband and I have both taught in public schools. That means that we have a major lifestyle shift every summer. We go from the hustle and bustle of the school year, to a calm, unstructured summer. Until we had kids! Then we went from the crazy school year to the crazy summer schedule. We’ve tried all of the things for making the most of our ten weeks at home. Here are some of our tried and true top tips for designing your summer with kids.

Images courtesy of my mentorship experience with Stefanie Cole Photography

Tip #1: Plan the Stretches

I recently listened to an amazing podcast episode about summer planning on The Lazy Genius. Kendra talks about thinking of your summer in smaller stretches instead of as one, 10-week stretch of time. This really resonated with me. I sometimes spiral into the “We’ll do a theme this summer!” or “Let’s go on a day trip every Friday.” It works for a week and then putters out.

Kendra explains that this is because different things matter during different stretches. My husband and I sat down and figured out our stretches. We have 4 – pre-vacation, vacation, post-vacation and pre-school year beginning.

Kendra’s next tip is to decide what matter in each stretch. YES! On a calendar, my husband and I scribbled down ideas. Before vacation, the priority is to get the house ready for vacation, start packing and finish up all of my photography work. Those are the things that matter in that stretch. During vacation? None of that matters! Vacation is all about being unplugged and not gaining 44 pounds.

Designing Your Summer With Kids, Tip #2: Make a Bucket List

While I completely agree that every week of summer shouldn’t be deeply structured … mama needs a schedule. That’s where the Bucket List comes in! We’ve tried a few different ways in the past. The best way I have found for designing your summer with kids is a giant poster on the wall. We have a family meeting where we brainstorm a bunch of ideas. Then we each get to choose 2-3 ideas (day trips, activities, crafts, etc.) that we want to add to the Bucket List. We post all of the ideas on the poster on the wall and use that when planning our summer days.

This year, we are using our annual family goals to structure our Bucket List. Our family goal this year is to complete 12 family hikes. We chose which 12 hikes we specifically wanted to do. My husband typed them up and we are going to try to do at least 4 of them this summer.

Tip #3: Teacher Vibes

As parents, we truly want our daughters to unplug during the summer. That being said, we have witnessed firsthand how real the summer slide is. While our kiddos won’t be doing worksheets or memorizing capitals over the summer, there will be learning happening. Our two priorities this summer are READING and typing.

During the school year, we have a great routine for reading before bed. We plan to continue this during the summer. We’re also hoping to do a family book club, but we’ll see if we can pull it off.

For typing, we found a program called Typing Club that we are big fans of. It’s free, fun and kid-friendly. We will probably try to do this at least 10 minutes a day to get their typing skills up to speed (see what I did there?!).

Those are our top three tips for designing your summer with kids. What plans do you have this summer to beat the heat and have fun with your kiddos?

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