Organizing Our Summer | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Organizing Our Summer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Organizing Our Summer

This week officially marks the start of summer on the calendar, although my kids are in school for another week and a half.   As summer approches, our family is looking forward to some down time after the school year!  We love summer :)

This is the first time I've been home with my kids in the summer (other than when I was on maternity leave with each of them) so I'm especially looking forward to making lots of great memories.  Financially, we're hoping my hubby gets plenty of calls from Canada Post to go in for work, but we're also hoping for a lot of family time all together (he's a new relief letter carrier without a lot of seniority).

I've struggled writing this post and leading up to this summer because my inclination would be to plan and organize our summer in great detail, but I don't want to be like Danny Tanner in this old clip from Full House:

That clipboard of fun didn't work out very well for Danny and his family and I don't think it would work very well for mine either.   So, I'm trying to come up with a balanced approach.   Keep reading to see what I've come up with!

We all love camping so we will go several times, depending on weather and how much my hubby works :)

Nothing quite like a meal cooked over a fire in the great outdoors...mmmm....

Both kids enjoy going to VBS and there are 2 they will be attending again this year (one in July and one in August). We've also signed my son up for a half-day soccer camp for a week in July.

We've been discussing with my son and daughter about going to a sleep-away camp for 3 nights in July. It would be the first time for my daughter and second time for my son.  They are both excited about the idea, but my daughter is a real "daddy's girl" so I'm not sure if she'll actually go through with it or not :)

We ordered tickets for the Metro Toronto Zoo using our AirMiles so we'll probably go there one day in August.

Polar bears are my favourite animal :)  There's a new polar bear cub this year that I want to see before he grows too much!

We also bought season's passes for Marineland this year for the first time.  It's a 1 1/2 hour drive so we won't go very often but we've already been for 2 days so we've gotten our money's worth and any other trips we take there now are extra value.

The beluga whales were SO cute!  We got splashed many times and loved every minute of it.  The kids enjoyed the belugas every bit as much as all the rides.

We will probably take in a Blue Jays game this summer too.  My son is a BIG fan!

And on a smaller scale, we can beat the heat by running through the sprinkler, having water balloon fights, going to splash pads, and going to the beach. We can enjoy the outdoors doing things like hunting bugs, riding bikes, going to a variety of parks, playing catch, having picnics, feeding ducks, and going for walks along paths we see when we're driving places but that we never actually explore. 

Those are a bunch of fun things that will likely happen this summer.   And that still leaves a lot of  down time at home which will be nice.  My kids enjoy playing together as well as spending time on their own. They are pretty creative at finding things to do (most of the time!). 

But, on those unstructured days at home, I also anticipate some "I'm bored" moments.  When I tell them they can NOT spend the entire summer in front of a screen, I also expect I'll hear comments like "What else is there to do except Wii, TV, computer games, etc.?"  What to do in those times?

I've seen lots of other blogs with GREAT ideas for summer routines, activities, and boredom busters.  Here are a few examples of what I found (feel free to click on the links to check them out - I'll wait!)

I love the idea of limiting media time with media cards to be "spent" or "saved" throughout the day in this post from Organizing Made Fun. 

I like all the ideas and the categories on this summer survival boredom chart from Nellie Bellie.

Here's one that's a creative checklist of ideas from Fingerprints On The Fridge:

There are a TON of other examples like these, and, as I look at them all to write this post, they sound great but I'm getting totally overwhelmed with all the possibilities!  I'm a list person.  I love my "to do" lists.  But having a list of fun activities that we can do this summer makes it feel like they are chores that I need to check off, rather than opportunities to make memories.  (And I won't even bother mentioning that the organizing projects I want to work on will be a little more challenging with extra bodies around!)   I really want to keep our summer simple.

I think it's OK for them to be "bored" sometimes because it's important for them to develop their creativity, imagination, and self-initiative, so they don't rely on adult-directed activities or media stimulation as much.  Summer is the perfect time for building these important life skills because it's not as structured as the rest of the year is. 

So here's what I'm thinking:  I'm going to organize a few areas in our house that will encourage my kids to do things they like, so they will enjoy their summer (and I'll enjoy mine!).  But, I won't overly structure what we will actually do.  That's a stretch for me (I'm all about being organized!!) but I think it will be good for all of us.

Here's my "simple" plan:

1.  I am going to create a craft / activity area in the basement with lots of things the kids can work on.  They each have a number of craft projects and activities they received as gifts but haven't necessarily had time to work on, so those will be included in this area.  I may even keep a stash so I can replenish it throughout the summer.  (Post to come soon)
2. I will help them organize their toys (in their rooms, in the basement, and on the main floor) so they can find what they want and be inspired to play with their things.

3. I will organize their puzzles and games so they will be used more and set up a challenge to complete each puzzle and play each game at least once this summer. My son is getting to an age where he can start playing older games so my hubby and I will start playing some of those with him too.

4.  I will register them in the summer reading challenge at the library (they are both motivated by challenges and rewards so I think this will be up their alley).
5.  I am going to give each of them a summer journal.  They can write in it or draw pictures in it from time to time to show what they did this summer.  Maybe for their first entry I'll suggest they brainstorm some of the things they would like to do this summer, so we can do those.

By providing these spaces and tools, my kids can unleash their creativity, which feels much more freeing to me than using a calendar or chart or list with ideas.

Now, I know my kids aren't perfect and when my preventative "boredom busting plan" fails, I'll have to rely on my own creative ideas.  And if I get stuck...I know there are all those great suggestions online :)

Between the things we already have planned for summer and the creative things that will happen in our unstructured time, I think this is going to be a great summer!  Hopefully the balance of structureu and freedom works for all four of us.  I'll let you know how this goes!  

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the summer possibilities and activities?  Or do you have a secret for keeping things organized and simple?

Happy summer and happy organizing!

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