Planning Ahead to Make the Most of Summer Vacation

Summer vacation 4Ready or not, here it comes! Summer vacation is very quickly creeping upon parents all over the northern hemisphere.  Being ready makes it easier, cheaper and more enjoyable for parents and children alike.

Print out or find your June-July-August calendar pages and let’s get to work!

First, take a look at your outside child care situation. Have you worked out summer camp or babysitters for the times that you and your partner are not available for child care? If not, that’s your #1 priority right now.  Sleep-away camp, day camp, summer school, day care or babysitters – get that booked right now.  Make sure that any necessary deposits to hold your child’s place have been taken care of.

For creative parents who do have some time available, maybe ask around to find other parents willing to do a group-rotation day camp, where the group goes to each family one day a week for the day’s programming. Alice, Brian, Charlie, Doreen and Ellen are all in the camp. Monday, it’s at Alice’s house with her parent(s) in charge of the day, Tuesday is at Brian’s and so on.

Now, breathe… your next task is to make a list of all the summer must-dos.  This list would include relatives and friends who must be visited, school work that must be made up and medical or other appointments that must be booked. If your kids are old enough to take all this seriously, leave a piece of paper on the fridge or family bulletin board for a couple of weeks to gather kid input.

Are you planning a period of an away vacation or a staycation? Block out that chunk of time, research what you need to research, and book what you need to book.

Summer vacation 5Now here comes the part that even the most obsessive planners (Yep, my hand is up!) often miss:  Must book time WITHOUT the children! Personally, I’m combing Facebook recommendations and ad circulars for some sort of artsy-craftsy weekly break.  Setting this up will maintain my sanity and give me a couple of kid-fight-free hours each week to look forward to over July and August.

Do you have children with chronic medical or developmental issues that need attention over the summer? Are they due for a visit to the dentist? When are haircuts necessary?  Make a few phone calls, then throw those appointments up on your calendar. Sit back, have a cup of tea, breathe a little bit and have a look.

Realistically speaking, how many times, over the period(s) not covered by camp, do your children need to get out of the house? Busy, happy children fight less than bored, burned-out kids, so take this seriously. In my family, Mondays and Wednesdays have been our “field trip” days for years of summer vacations. I highlight those days on the calendar, then look at municipal event schedules, speak to my friends, then rack my brain some more for ideas. Over the years, our field trip days have included:

  • Science museum
  • Friends 40 minutes away for jewelry making (They come to us for cupcake decorating.)
  • History museum
  • Beach!
  • Grandparents’ day
  • Hike and picnic

…to name a few options. Note that school supply shopping has to get done some time in there, so plan to combine that with something else a little less frazzling.

You’re almost done planning; just two more steps left to go!

arts and craftsFill in those empty squares left on that calendar. No, you don’t need to be planned and programmed for every second, but it’s still better to have items to cancel than be clueless with weeks of empty time on your hands. Know your options. Time to head back to the internet and all parent resources available to make a list of arts-and-crafts activities, movies you’d like to watch together, kid-friendly DIY projects, baking, cooking, (My kids make restaurant night once a week, where they’re in charge, complete with menus and a waiter), computer time, science experiments… your only limits are your imagination, your tolerance for mess and your budget.

Last step is the how-to-limit-the-sib-fights thing, plus filling up on ready-made meals.  Stay tuned for my next blog post.

Aviela is a multi-tasking, public-speaking, work-at-home mother of six decently-adjusted, mostly happy children.

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