Ask the Organizer: Tips to Simplify Summer Schedules
Earlier this month, I posed the question, What are your biggest challenges with organizing busy summer schedules? And today, I’m excited to read Andrea’s tips to help us simplify and organizer our crazy, busy summer months!
Summer is almost here… and I can’t wait! My husband is a teacher, so it’s no surprise that our summer days are a lot more relaxed than the busy school months. However, even with more time for relaxing, the “lazy days of summer” can often start to feel pretty hectic and disorganized if we don’t have some sort of plan
If you can relate, here are a few ways to get organized and still enjoy your summer.
1. Know your schedule.
Before you even start trying to simplify and organize your summer, you’ll want to take 20 minutes and look through your calendar for June, July, and August.
- Are you planning any vacations?
- Will you need to take time off work?
- Do you have any weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, or baby showers to attend (and buy gifts for)?
- Are you planning any home renovation projects that will take up lots of extra time?
- Will your kids be going to summer camp, sports camps, music camp, Bible school, etc.?
- Will your kids be participating in sports teams or in any sort of group projects?
Your answers to some of these questions will help determine how you spend a good chunk of your summer. And depending on how busy you want to be, you might decide to say no to some activities after looking over your schedule.
2. Decide on a summer routine.
No, I don’t think your summer days should be as structured as the rest of the year, but I can almost guarantee you and your children will be happier if there is some sort of daily/weekly routine you follow during the summer.
We all know that our homes will not magically clean themselves and meals won’t be prepared without some effort on our parts; so try making these events a family affair. Maybe you play inside during the morning, then everyone helps to clean up before lunch, and then you go out and do a fun activity in the afternoon.
Or maybe you can plan your weekly menu as a family and then let each child (age-appropriate, of course) help make the meal one night a week.
Here are a few more ways to implement a loose routine…
- If your family loves sleeping in, allow everyone to sleep in five days a week, but then wake up “on time” the other two days. This will allow you get get a little more done on those days without spoiling all the fun.
- If your family loves going to the beach, have a “beach day” once a week. You could even make this day a reward for cooperation throughout the rest week!
- If you enjoy family BBQ’s or picnics at the park, plan your weekly menu accordingly and try to implement at least one picnic lunch a week.
- Allow your children to plan an event one day a week. Of course, you’ll want to help them plan the details, but this will give them something to look forward to, and force them to be creative.
By having some sort of general plan, everyone will be a bit less restless during the long summer days.
3. Plan ahead to avoid boredom.
It’s almost inevitable that your children will get bored at some point during the summer.
To avoid the constant “what can we do now” questions, plan ahead and create a list of things they can do if they get bored. Some examples might be:
- Play outside
- Read a book
- Watch a movie
- Play a game with siblings
- Ride their bike around the neighborhood
- Go on a scavenger hunt and look for ________
- Make an obstacle course in your backyard
Try to put at least 20-30 items on your list and you might want to make separate lists for different age children.
Then (this is important so listen up), at the bottom of the list, put “Ask mom if she needs help with anything”. That way, if they complain they’re bored and have already done everything on your list, you can say, “well, you haven’t asked me if I need help with anything, so why don’t you go __________”. Fill in the blank with any number of household chores.
This way, if your kids continue to complain about being bored, you’ll at least get a clean house out of the deal!
4. Keep your vehicle packed.
Even with a general routine to your day, summer is the time for spontaneous beach trips, picnics in the park, or fun outings with friends.
However, if you need to take the time to pack and worry about forgetting something at home, you’ll waste lots of valuable time. Instead, keep your vehicles packed with summer essentials:
- Suntan lotion
- Beach towels / beach toys
- A cooler (obviously, you’ll have to add ice and food at the last minute)
- Extra water bottles
- Extra diaper bag — if applicable
- Restaurant, fast food, and ice-cream coupons (just in case!)
- Park passes
- Non-perishable snacks
- Stroller or even small bikes
Keeping these essentials ready and waiting will save you lots of time and allow you to literally drop everything and do something fun.
5. Don’t forget yourself.
See if you can swap babysitting services with a friend, relative, or neighbor, hire a house-cleaning service for the summer months, or implement other ideas to make sure you have some margin in your schedule and are not running yourself ragged. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you schedule in time for things that energize you, you’ll most definitely be a better parent to your children for the rest of the summer.
What are your tips and suggestions to keep things calm, organized, and simpler this summer?
|Andrea Dekker is a wife, mom, blogger, organizer, speaker, and founder of Simple Organized Living. Her goal is to motivate and encourage others to “create their best life” through simplicity and organization.|
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