Summer flies by crazy fast—which can be good or bad, depending on the day, the weather, and the kids. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m actually looking forward to the summer (give me spring in Austin any day, but I’m happy to not be there from June through September).
My kids are continually thinking of things they want to do to relish the next few months, and it gets me excited, too. I’ll be working less, painting lots of walls in our new fixer-upper, and hopefully getting some cast-aside sewing done—and I’m eager for their camping, pool, and library suggestions, too.
I’m in the school of thought that the best sorts of summers are those that rest in-between planned and spontaneous—I want to go to the library every week, but why not quickly toss dinner in to a picnic basket when the weather begs it?
I think it helps to organize just a bit on the front end of the summer, so that the rest of the season can be more spontaneously enjoyed. Here’s how we’re doing it this year.
1. We’re creating a summer bucket list.
There’s more than enough summer fun lists on Pinterest, so we’re not short on ideas. I’ve collected a lot of our ideas on my summer Pinterest board, and we’re jotting down ideas on a big piece of butcher paper and keeping it on the fridge. The whole family can pipe in when an idea strikes.
A sampling of our ideas:
• Weekly library visits
• Swim at the local pool
• Go rafting down the river after church
• Have picnic dinners
• Have friends over to watch July 4th fireworks from our deck
• Go camping at Crater Lake
• Go camping in the backyard
• Make homemade popsicles
• Have a water gun fight
This way, I’ll refer to the list when the “I’m booooored!” choruses begin.
2. We’re sorting the supplies.
We have it happen all the time, and I bet you do, too—a fun, spontaneous “let’s go to the pool!” suggestion morphs into an hour-long prep session because you’ve got to gather the towels, the floaties, the sunscreen, and the hats. By the time you’re in the car, you can’t wait for the pool to cool off from all that sweating.
I’ve created a few grab-and-go bags for our most recurrent summer outings, and they’re stored right by the garage door. When it’s pool time, I just toss the right back in the car or the bike basket, and we’re off.
Here are a few things in our bags:
For the pool
• beach towels
• floaties (deflated, of course)
• a few swim diapers
• swimsuits—we usually change into them before leaving, but this way, we always know where they are
• plastic bags, for wet suits
• bug spray (I like California Baby)
• sunscreen (I’d rather have a small bottle in each bag than to hunt down one larger bottle)
• a picnic blanket
• plastic utensils
• plastic, reusable cups
• a frisbee, and a few other small outdoor toys
• plastic bags, for trash or other incidentals
You can also use a picnic basket or backpack—we like this backpack also.
For road trips
We’ve got another longer road trip planned this summer, but we’re also all about the day trips when we have the itch to get out of Dodge. This bag works for both shorter and longer car rides.
• two small zippered pouches of markers, crayons, and pencils (one for each of our older kids)
• clipboards with blank paper
• spiral notebooks with lined paper
• a license plate dry-erase game—a friend made us this sweet and simple game: arrange license plate images alphabetically by state, print, and laminate.
• bug spray
• plastic bags
• a few diapers
• water bottles
3. We’re sticking to a somewhat normal routine.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean I get to goof off at the pool at day. We grownups need to get work done, too, and I’ll honestly go nuts by August if I tried to be our Summer Cruise Director.
Our sitter is still coming over twice a week so I can get work done. I’ll still keep to a simple, rotating menu plan for dinner (right now I’m enjoying Natural Health at Home’s Whole Foods Meal Plan). and the bedtime routine is still there, although bedtime is a wee bit later.
I’m completely okay if the kids get bored, because that’s when real magic and creativity happen. We’ll keep art supplies within reach in the craft cabinet, a few outdoor toys in the backyard, and cold water in the fridge. That’s enough for a childhood summer.
This giveaway is now closed. Check back soon for the winner!
Target and Container Store want to help one of you get organized this summer, so they’re giving away a $250 gift certificate each. I’m sure you can find a way to use $500 at these fabulous stores, right?
How to enter
Simply answer this question in the comments below: What’s something on your family’s summer bucket list? (If you’re reading this via email, you must click over to the blog post to leave a comment.)
This giveaway will end on June 24, and I’ll announce the winner soon after. I hope you win!