5 Tips for Planning a Great Summer for Your Family

School’s out for just three months, yet parents can spend that much time (or more) planning summer. And though some of the best summer fun for kids and parents is unplanned, the reality is those precious, spontaneous moments are few and far between.

When you're a parent home with the kids, day in and day out, summer is long. But you don’t want to look back only to feel as if you limped through it with your eyes cast toward Labor Day. To make it go smoothly with happy memories at the end, parents need to line up multiple summer child care options around a schedule of vacation dates and deadlines while at the same time infusing some summer fun into their kids’ days.

That's a tall order so it’s best to start the summer planning while the winter is still upon us. This step-by-step guide for summer planning will help whenever you get started.


Start Planning Out the Summer on a Week-By-Week Basis

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Print blank calendar pages to use as a rough draft. Begin summer planning with the events that have certain dates. Put any vacations, summer camp, house guests, day trips, holidays, etc. that you already know on the calendar. Add any important work-related dates, too (e.g., deadlines, vacations of colleagues, business travel).

Now you have a rough idea of how many days or weeks for which you’ll need to make a summer plan.


Set Summer Goals

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With a skeletal outline of the summer schedule in hand, it’s time to start setting goals. Summer goals might be work- or family-related. Professional goals could be something ambitious like completing a complicated project, or they could be as simple as setting a certain number of hours per week or day. Family-related goals might include taking day trips or enjoying this time with the kids with less stress.

But take it easy on yourself when setting goals. Factor in that a general summer slowdown fueled by client and coworker vacations as well as the kids being home from school affect what you can accomplish.

Perhaps the family already has a summer “bucket list” of things to do. If not, find some ideas online. Or maybe there’s a skill ​the kids didn’t quite master during the school year (e.g., math facts, shoe tying). Summer can be the time to tackle it in a more relaxed way.


Search for Summer Child Care

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It pays to start early. The sooner you start planning, the more child care options you will have. Taking the time to complete steps 1 and 2 first will help you make the right decisions for your family.

Now that you have a timeframe and a goal, start filling in that calendar for real. Think about which options will work for your family. Often parents use a mix: Summer camp one week, grandparents the next and then kids just might have to entertain themselves at home or with a babysitter for another week, etc.

Many summer camps start filling up in February and March, and babysitters get booked by other moms before the school year is out, so don’t delay in implementing the details of the summer plan. If you're getting a late start, don't despair either. Something will come together.


Make Some Decisions

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Given your options for childcare and workload, are there many weeks or days still uncovered? If you've exhausted affordable child care options, then take a look at your work schedule instead. The next step may be to cut hours or rearrange your schedule to work evenings and weekends. Maybe your spouse can arrange a more flexible schedule for the summer.

Consider whether to take a working vacation (i.e., you work, the kids play), which breaks up the monotony of spending the summer together at home for both you and the kids.


Plan the Day-To-Day Activities

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Unless you choose back-to-back weeks of summer camp, the kids will likely be home with you for some days in the summer. Check out everyday summer activities for kids to do while you work. Think about how to move toward those goals you've set on a daily basis as you plan the days. But have some fun together too.

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