I'm sad to say that I know what it's like to let your entire summer slip away without ever doing anything memorable. It's all too easy for us to say "We're gonna do SO much this summer!" and then do a whole lot of nothing because "it rained a lot" or "we were too busy" or whatever other lame excuses we had. Last year our family made a plan of attack so as not to waste a single day and it was a total success. This is very easy to modify to fit your needs, e.g. single, couple, family of 4, family of 8, whatever you like. Here's how it works:
Summer Fun Lists
Get all the family members that will be involved and gather around in a comfortable space. Have one person be in charge of the list keeping. Ask all members to suggest fun things that they'd like to do this summer. Don't just include places, but activities and learning new skills as well. Every suggestion goes on the list. If you already have a vacation planned, put that down as well. Fill the list until you run out of ideas. Here's what our family came up with:
Storyland library make a cooking show dance party Plimoth Plantation Boston Harbor Islands camping nature walk waterpark crafts host a party indoor camp out beach canal make ice cream mini golf whale watch ice skating family game night bird watching scavenger hunt farm star gazing berry picking Museum of Science zoo see blown glass made baseball game play street hockey home movie marathon girls' night boys' night chalk paint pottery @ Claychick tie dye picnic
From there, organize your lists to suit your needs. We sorted our list into three categories:
Family Events- These were the items on the list that were geared toward the whole family attending and that required planning/booking. These could not (rather should not) be done on a whim, e.g. Museum of Science, Storyland, whale watching, Camping, etc.
Two parents on a whim - These were the items on the list that we knew we'd need both parents present for, but we could easily do it on a whim, e.g. mini golf, ice skating, Plimoth Plantation, etc.
One parent on a whim- These were the items that hubs and I felt confident that we could handle on our own and we could certainly do them on a whim, e.g. beach, nature walk, playground, canal, crafts
You can have as many categories as you need and you can sort by whatever is most relevant in your life.
Some other methods for sorting your list:
If you have teenagers and small kids, sort by age group: big kids, little kids, both.
If finances are tight, sort by price: Free, Inexpensive, $$$
If you work a crazy schedule, sort by length of the activity: 1-2 hours, 3-5 hours, all day event.
All of my friends seem to be pregnant, so this is for you guys! Sort by energy level: death warmed over, meh, crack fiend. Hahahaha!
Whatever you choose for your categories and sort method, make it work for you. If you need a different sorting method for you and your spouse (you need the energy sorter and hubby needs the length of time sorter) so be it!
Now post the lists! Stick them wherever you can quickly reference them. You can get super fancy and post dry erase/ chalk boards, or grab a few of those magnetic dry erase memo boards for the fridge, or just keep the paper list handy. You will never hear the words "I'm bored!" again!
For parents of school aged kids, I would also whip up a... "Rainy Day" list or "Mommy has a headache" list! Some suggestions:
- Keep a bag of new toys (or ones they haven't played with in forever) tucked away and break it open when you're desperate!
- Set up a long, slow, not so messy craft project. I keep a separate list of simple go-to crafts (that don't require obscure "ingredients") which really helps on rainy days!
- Zen Gardening (kids ages 5-12 LOVE this!) Pour sand (the finer the better) into a shoebox top. Give your kiddo a fork to rake the sand, toothpicks for detail work and rocks to decorate with. Usually Zen gardening gives me an hour of peace and quiet! If you want to make a really fancy zen garden head over to TheRunnerDuck for a great tutorial!
It even looks relaxing, doesn't it?!
- Rain Sledding! This one will have your kiddos thinking you're the coolest mom on the block (and your neighbors thinking you're NUTS!) Use a garbage bag, preferably one of those thick black ones, as a sled in a downpour! (Do this on GRASS only!) This one works best on your belly! If you don't have a hill, you can use a little olive oil (or pam) to grease up your sled for flat ground! The kids love to race each other!
- Hide and Seek! Kids love to play this with grown ups!
- Build a fort out of all your couch cushions, sheets, and blankets, Your kids will remember how fun it was. TRUST ME!