There is a lot to balance when you're planning for the "perfect" summer vacation with your family! Of course you want to have that balance between having enough to do while still having the flexibility to relax and DO NOTHING. Then of course, if you're a teacher on summer break like I am, you want to be productive and get things done for work that you don't have time for during the school year, but also have time to, for once, DO NOTHING. And how much are your children going to be involved in camps, lessons, and other extracurriculars? What about all of the events happening in your community? And then there's the trips.... It's enough to need a vacation from vacation planning! Here is how I have gone about planning our summer so that we can hopefully have as best of a balance of all those elements as we can.
1. Start with a blank calendar
Of course you knew I was going to write this all down! If you are in need of a blank calendar yourself, I have a free 2016 calendar that you can get here, or you can get in the summer spirit with this summer organizer, which has the summer month calendars as well with a more summery look, plus tons of other tools to organize your summer ;)
2. Write in trips and visitors (and visitation)
I first went through and wrote in all of the days that we would be out of town for trips, days when I knew we had family and friends visiting from out of town, and days that the girls had visitation with their dad. Obviously I need to know first when we are going to be at home, and when we need to be available for visitors first before I can plan anything else!
3. Register for any camps/lessons
I ended up not registering my girls for any camps or lessons this year, mostly because of the way our summer is broken up with trips and such, but in the past I have put them in swimming lessons, and I'm sure in the future the girls will be more interested in doing some of these types of things during the summer. It's a good idea to get those on the calendar before adding anything else because you have to make a time and financial commitment for those, and often registration fills up early!
4. Gather dates for community events
I love doing things in the community over the summer. So many things are free, they make me feel like we're connecting with our town, and they are a great way to keep all of us interacting with people, which is especially important for my kids when they are out of school for a couple of months. I grabbed fliers from the public library, local parks, and Lakeshore Learning. Home Depot, Lowe's, Michael's, and other chains also have awesome free activities for all ages.
I go through and figure out which ones fit our schedule and age bracket and write down the ones that sound the most interesting on the calendar. That doesn't mean we'll do them all, but if we are looking for something to do, the information is all there. I write these in a different color than the trips/visitation so that I can easily see what things are important and what things are optional.
5. Make a bucket list
I always have in my head all of these ideas of things that we will do over break. I sat down and made a list of all the things, big and small, that I would like to do this summer as a family. I had everything from visiting the zoo to picnics, spending time with a certain friend to making homemade ice cream. I also made a list of home projects and tasks for school that I'm hoping to get done this summer.
6. Split up fun activities, home projects, work, and other categories into weeks
I'm not putting the bucket list activities and projects on my monthly calendars, but I counted up the number of weeks I have this summer, not counting the weeks we have visitors or are out of town, and split up each category into smaller tasks and activities for each week. This way I have a kind of goals list of things I hope to accomplish, and by having a variety of things each week from home, family fun, and work, I'm hoping I will be more motivated and feel more balanced. I've tried before doing all of my school-related tasks in the weeks at the very beginning and end of summer and doing everything else in between, but I found that method overwhelming and well, not fun.
7. Be flexible but inspired!
The idea behind writing in options for activities and loosely scheduling projects and goals by weeks rather than days is to allow for some flexibility- one of the great things about summer break is that you don't have to be tied to a calendar or alarm clock! But I also feel so much better about my summers when I'm able to do fun things together with my family and check off some of those bigger projects that I can never seem to get to during the school year. The key to making my plans work this summer will be to be open to spontaneous changes but also remind myself regularly of the hopes and dreams I have for the break!