A six-step plan to help you have your best summer yet
(with a free download at the bottom).

If you get a little bit anxious thinking about all of your children being home for the summer, I understand. I always did too, but that’s about to change. And it’s not because I’m going to give you a cute little replica of the plan that works for me and my four boys. You and I both know it wouldn’t work for you the way it does for me. Nope, I’m going to show you how to design your own summer plan because the BEST summer program for your family is the one YOU create to meet your needs and the needs of your children; and I’m going to show you how to do that.

The best summer plan is one you create to meet your family's needs. Here's how to do it: Click To Tweet

How to Create Your Summer Plan:

Step 1: Make a list of your must-do’s. What absolutely HAS to get done to prevent you from feeling stressed? These are activities that are critical to your sanity or your survival and they will be different for everyone. What matters most to you? Make this list as short as possible. You can see some of mine must-do’s below.

  • Clean the Kitchen after every meal (one of my things—if the kitchen’s messy, I can’t relax)
  • Vaccum the carpet at least once a week
  • Take the trash out once a day (having a hot, stinky house is the worst!)
  • Feed the family 3 times a day
  • Wash, fold and put away 1 load of laundry every day (or two loads every other day)
  • Exercise every day (everyone)
  • Have my children participate in household chores every day
  • Get 2 hours of quiet time every day (I have learned I need this to maintain my equilibrium)
  • Spend at least 15 minutes of dedicated play or connection time with each child, or at least an hour with all four every day (crafts, games, talking, anything that doesn’t include a digital device)

Step 2: Ask your children to make a list of their must-do’s. What absolutely HAS to be done for your children to avoid feeling stressed?

  • Have plenty of video game time every day
  • Get dropped off at all our activities on time
  • EAT three times a day, at least

Now set aside time in your schedule to accomplish everything in steps one and two. You can either design your own schedule to display; or if you’re a digital family, you can use a program like Google CalendarChoose a color for each member of your family and highlight their activities with their color on the schedule. Whatever type of schedule you use, make sure it’s flexible. You might find some things you thought were critical actually weren’t, and some things you thought weren’t critical actually are. You might need more or less time than you thought for each activity. Be open to change and adaptation. Changing events around on Google Calendar is easy. If you design your own schedule, consider using magnets or velcro so your schedule can adapt if something unexpected comes up. 

NOTE: If you can’t fit ALL your must-do’s into your schedule, you need to shorten your lists or recruit help. Last summer we had to fly my sister in for a couple of weeks while my husband was out of town to help me get my children everywhere they needed to be. If you can’t get your family must-do’s done, and you don’t have family available to help, you’ll have to get creative. My family carpools a lot. I’ve also used a Mother’s Helper—a tween or teen who entertains my children for a few hours so I can get everything done.


Step 3: Make a list of your “could-do’s.” These are activities that aren’t critical for your sanity or survival, but they make you feel good. What would be nice to do?

  • Other household chores
  • Give my kids creative time – non-digital, non-Mom time where they have to figure out how to entertain themselves.
  • Go on inexpensive family outings: hikes, library, swimming, movies, picnics, etc.
  • Help the kids keep their academic skills sharp (math, reading, writing, etc.)
  • Plan social get togethers for me and the kids
  • Have my children help with preparing meals so they learn to cook

Step 4: Ask your children to make a list of “could do’s.” What kinds of things will make them feel good this summer?

  • Go swimming (a lot!)
  • Play with friends
  • Watch movies together
  • Play fun games with the family

Add these into your schedule where there’s room. Highlight everyone’s responsibilities. Try making the fun activities dependent on the less fun activities. For example, when all the extra household chores on the schedule for this week are done, then we can go see a movie. Or when everyone has done 20 minutes on SumDog, we can invite friends over for a water balloon fight.


Step 5: Brainstorm the “Bonus” activities you would love to do this summer. These are realistic, but special activities that you don’t get to do regularly.

  • Go on vacation
  • Visit the waterslide park
  • Meet friends at the trampoline park
  • Do the aerial ropes course as a family

Step 6: Ask your children to brainstorm bonus activities. What are their summer dreams?

  • Go on vacation
  • Go see the tigers at the zoo
  • Visit the waterslide park

This is where you make your memories. Try to add at least one thing from everyone’s bonus list into your summer plan, somewhere. You can make your bonuses dependent on other things (like getting all the must-do’s done for two weeks), or you can plan them just for fun, whatever works best for your family.

And that’s it, your plan is done. Because you’ve accounted for everything that matters, any time left available on your schedule is guilt-free time to do whatever everyone wants to do. My children will fill some of this up with extra video games and movies, and I’m okay with that because we’ve already made sure we’re getting done what’s important to us.

A six-step plan to help you have your best summer yet (with free downloads).You can download all 6 Family Summer Plan worksheets HERE.

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