Five Tips to Help Plan for Summer
It's the middle of May. School gets out for most of us in the U.S. in about 5 weeks, that only 25 days (not counting weekends) left of waking up early, rushing through breakfast, packing backpacks, making lunches and either seeing them off to the bus stop or driving them to school. It's the time of year when a particular question during small talk becomes popular- "what are your plans this summer?"
For some of us, we had it all figured out since the end of March. Some still feel like we've got time to figure it out, and the rest of us, well, the rest of us are just starting to panic. Why panic now? Because in 25 days, your kids will be waking you up asking for breakfast. They will be at your heels every second of the day mouthing the words, "what are we doing today?" or the dreaded, "I'm bored." Do you feel your chest tightening yet? If so, this post is for you. I've taken the time to ask friends, family, and those lovely Facebook mommy groups what helps them plan their summer with the kids? I've narrowed it down to the top 5 tips to help you plan your summer:
1. Start Early- there is actually no better time than now to start planning for summer. Especially when thinking of summer camps and paid activities. Many camps start offering discounts for early registration starting in late March/early April and many still have discounts available through the end of May. For a seasoned parent, this is so helpful knowing how quickly all those camps can add up in cost! Money doesn't grow on trees, kids!
2. Budget- I'll repeat that again: money doesn't grow on trees, kids! Sure, we would love to stick them in every activity and camp that our kids want to participate in, but that just isn't the reality for 99% of the population. So, we have to thoughtfully choose what activities match our wallet size. For many of us, it means choosing all the free things! Nancy from New Jersey gave good food for thought: "I go based on our budget and where the spending makes the most sense. We were going to go away for a weekend as well as a family vacation, but the price it would be for a weekend down the Shore would be the same as a summer membership at the pool. It made more sense for the membership."
3. Consider your kids' interests- There is nothing more that we hate than spending a few hundred dollars for a week at sewing camp for "Betty" only to hear her complain each day how much she hates it. A great tip by Carol from California said, "I like to ask my kids what are 3 things they want to do this summer. I hear their ideas and I try to meet at least one or 2 of them within reason. That way, they get to have a say in planning their summer fun rather than just relying on my brain to do all the work." I couldn't agree more! Each year around March I ask Erin this question and we try to plan those activities according to our budget and abilities. This year, she wanted soccer camp, more beach trips, and more hiking. Luckily, we just might be able to do all three!
4) Try new things- Trying new things opens up new interests for not only our kids but possibly the whole family. While trying something new can be hard for some kids, one option to help motivate your child is to have them choose one goal for themselves to accomplish during the summer. Not only will it make them feel important and empowered, but it can help you find ways to be supportive of your child's goals and accomplishments. It is so empowering to see our kids reach a goal they have set for themselves! It also can be something that turns into a passion for the whole family. Below is a photo of Erin accomplishing a goal she set a few summers ago- learning to use the monkey bars. Last year, she set a goal to get rid of her training wheels and she did that too!
5) Don't overwhelm yourself or your kids- We all want to keep our kids entertained and active. Some of us really value having some space from our children, even in the summer. But cramming activities into the schedule every day can be exhausting on everyone! Nancy from Michigan gave great advice to help avoid this: "When my kids were younger, we had a rule. They can only sign up for activities every other week during the summer. This allowed me, personally, to enjoy more of my summer as I was not running kids to camps, swimming, activities every single day. We had exceptions for things like swim team or community theater. On the off weeks, we would plan grand adventures together, like camping in the backyard, Trips to theme parks, or cooking together."
While planning for the summer can be daunting, stressful, and sometimes downright agonizing, it doesn't have to be. It doesn't need to be done in one day, or even one week, we don't need to go into debt to make sure our kids attend every camp available. No one needs to spend their summer in misery, or just sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games all day. With these 5 tips in mind, we can plan a fun, exciting summer that allows for everyone to have fun, experience life together and grow as a person.
So, what are your plans this summer?
Extra tip: Mommy Poppins is a fantastic resource to find family-friendly activities and camps!