Summer with your kids should be fun, exciting, and unforgettable. In fact, research has shown that when families enjoy activities together, children not only learn important social skills but also have higher self-esteem. But, between the backyard camping and bonfire building to the playdates and PlayStations, it can all become overwhelming. The summer spirit can quickly sour with you in full-on summer survival mode.
Without planning and foresight, parents will be scrambling to be all and do all—an impossible task. Without some structure, summer can easily turn into constant “screen time,” with kids melting away into cyberspace while the days just slip by. Before you know it, they’re back at school and the warm weather—with all its promise and potential— is gone.
So, what can parents do to stay sane and strike a balance between children’s attention, work obligations, and life’s daily demands?
Start your planning early
Making notes and lists, organizing schedules, setting calendar dates, defining priorities, and laying out realistic expectations will empower you to approach each summer day with more focus and confidence. This will allow you to better manage your summer vacation (and your stress). With smart planning and the right tools, summer can be as fun and relaxing as you want it to be.
Keep kids engaged
Kids have always loved summer vacation. No school. No homework. But beyond that, they might not have put much thought into how they’d like to spend their time. That can very easily slide into marathon screen time sessions, as days are spent online or watching TV.
Parents can check that unhealthy streak with appealing activities and projects, letting kids experience something new while bonding with family and friends. While the emphasis is on fun, building in life/work lessons during summer breaks is a smart way for kids to get the best of two worlds.
Fun yard ideas to consider
While a great way for families to spend time together, summer survival projects are also a savvy way to teach kids about time management and the importance of being organized. All of these benefit from a little preparation beforehand, allowing you to plan and budget.
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Backyard projects. Your backyard is an ideal place to engage in fun activities without spending a lot of money. That includes classic summer survival staples like the humble lawn sprinkler. A modest investment can add squirt guns and water balloons to the equation. Setting up a small backyard gardening project is another smart way to get kids more in tune with nature and expand their knowledge, and is also a great bonding activity.
- Local excursions. Almost every community has museums, historical sites, state parks, and similar cultural attractions. Periodic day trips to visit these present another valuable family bonding opportunity while kids learn new things about their local area. Most places also offer tours or class sessions that can be worth pursuing. Planning can help make sure you set aside sufficient time to see everything on your list, while still leaving enough time to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
- Walks and hikes. Nearby parks and nature reserves make for a healthy and inexpensive outing for a summer day. The whole family can join in and get some exercise in the bargain. To add an educational aspect to the day, expand the scope of the hike by getting family members to identify trees from their leaves, or note the different kinds of minerals in the local landscape.
Power tip: Evernote offers a platform to plan, schedule, and track all your family activities. It lets you clip and store ideas from the internet, create a timetable, and compile lists—all in one centralized place. This way, everyone can access the family summer program easily and you can develop summer survival plans in a snap, making sure kids are engaged the way they should be.
Plan a trip
Family trips are an ideal way to enjoy a vacation and a key component of your summer survival game plan. It offers a shared experience for the family, and can be tailored to fit the wishes of every family member. You can then provide ample time for parents and children to kick back, relax, and bond with each other.
Success, though, is heavily dependent on preplanning. While there’s nothing wrong with a little spontaneity on a family trip, not planning properly can lead to confusion and budget overruns. This can turn the vacation from delight to disaster.
A few tips can help you plan things the right way. The first is to set a budget on the amount you intend to spend on the vacation. With that number in mind, you can then make a list of all the things you’ll need. This includes travel costs, hotel rooms, admission to attractions, food, souvenirs, and a little in case of an emergency. You can also then delegate costs to each category as appropriate.
In the event you need to cut back on certain expenses, you can figure that out before you spend any money and make adjustments accordingly. The better you can account for your expenditures before you complete the planning stage, the smoother and more enjoyable your family vacation will be.
Set and manage expectations early on
Talking to your family before you start formally planning will iron out a lot of issues. Talk with them about the things they’d like to do on a vacation, then plan events or activities around each person’s wishes, asking for feedback all the time. That way, everyone is heard and everyone’s needs are met. You can provide a good balance of activities to engage the whole family.
Power tip: Preparing and planning for a family trip can involve a thousand little details, covering everything from food and lodging to souvenirs and mementos. Evernote’s Travel Itinerary template is set up to cover schedules, calendars, costs, daily itineraries, and everything else you need to plan a memorable trip. With all the information in one centralized location, you can keep track of everything without having to shuttle between multiple apps.
Remodel your home
Sometimes, summer survival ideas can be bigger than a family road trip—like remodeling your home, for example. This needs to be completed during the summer when warm, amenable weather makes it easier to complete such a task.
A home remodeling project or similar summer endeavor should be undertaken with the same preparation as for a family vacation—and with the same attention to detail. Proper planning is essential for ensuring your remodeling project is finished on time, under budget, and with the desired outcome.
If you can, enlist the help of a professional contractor, particularly for extensive projects such as those involving additional rooms or changes to the plumbing or electrical systems. They can provide you with an overview and a budget, as well as expertise to get the job done right the first time.
Have a detailed action plan
If you choose to go this route, you will still need to coordinate costs, scheduling, and other details. Do your homework on the contractor you hire and check customer reviews to select one with high ratings.
Ambitious do-it-yourselfers might plan for similar projects but on a smaller scale. That’s great if you have the skills and experience, but remember, you’re responsible for every aspect of the project.
Any home remodeling project benefits from flexibility, especially when it comes to scheduling. Delays are common, so when preparing, make sure you build in a cushion to account for these. Plan to start your project earlier rather than later so you can finish before fall arrives.
Power tip: Evernote can help you keep track of every detail of your remodeling project, whether you’re using a contractor or doing it yourself. Evernote’s template options provide daily, weekly, and monthly planners, so you can keep careful track of the various stages in your summer survival project and make adjustments as needed. Add notes as you go—such as for supplies you might need that you hadn’t factored in before—then circle back to them easily when you’re ready to act.
Plan and prepare so you can sip and sizzle
Summer should be memorable. And with proper planning, it can be just that. Whether camping or cooking in the backyard, basking at the beach, picnicking in the park, or simply hosting a family movie night, there are many enjoyable things you and your kids can do together to create lasting memories. Spending time together as a family is important for building stronger relationships, and for the mental, emotional, and physical health of children… and their parents!
Forward planning is key
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” From managing tasks and schedules to preparing lists and clipping pertinent information for later viewing, Evernote’s flexibility allows you to tailor your plans to match whatever activities you and your family intend to enjoy during the summer. Then, with Evernote in your corner, you can unwind and enjoy your summer the way it’s meant to be: together.