How to Plan a Purposeful Summer with Your Kids

As my kids get older and the number of summers I get to spend with them is quickly dwindling, I want to create positive memories of our time together. Despite the fact that we are year-round homeschoolers, I like to purposefully pursue fun experiences with the kids during these summer months.

In summers past I have put too much pressure on myself and then struggled through this time feeling like a failure. 

Not this year!

It's important to keep expectations realistic so that we can all enjoy the days we have to spend with each other. I know if we make an elaborate bucket list, I will get overwhelmed. So the key for our family is to keep it simple.

I think most years we make a bucket list, but we rarely follow through. Again, not this year!

Here's my plan for how to have a purposeful summer with my kids:

1. Establish a good rhythm and routine.

Our regular rhythm and routine doesn't change too much in the summer. This helps steady us. We will still complete school in the mornings and have set things we do afterward. For example, on Mondays after school, we go to the YMCA. On Tuesdays, we go to the library. On Wednesdays, we usually go on a nature walk. On Thursdays, we have horse lessons every other week and then usually plan social get-togethers with friends on the off week. And on Fridays, we go grocery shopping, a not-so-fun but necessary task.

To fit in more fun, we will probably not go on nature walks each week. And just recently we changed the time my oldest daughter has horse lessons. So that opens up Thursdays for fun as well.

If you aren't used to being home with your kids, having set activities like I explained above that you do each day may be a positive experience for creating a summer rhythm or routine. If you need more help or ideas creating a weekly rhythm, I love this idea from Kayse at Anchored Women.

2. Plan set times to participate in fun events.

Like I explained above, Wednesdays and Thursdays after school are our set days that we will plan to do something fun. We may also do fun things on the weekend. This helps me have a set time that I know I can fit in special fun events. This way they will actually get done!

We also will take some weeks off of school and that will open up even more time to do fun things together. Like the week of our church Vacation Bible School. We won't have school, because we will be participating in VBS each morning.

3. Make a realistic summer bucket list.

What fun things do you hope to do? Brainstorm together as a family to create a realistic summer bucket list. 

How do you make it realistic? Make sure you stay in your personal budget parameters (don't break the bank), limit the quantity you add to the list, and don't plan too many elaborate items that require either a lot of time or effort. 

If you get a suggestion from a child that you don't feel like is realistic, simply say, "That is a really good idea, but I don't think we will be able to do it this summer." I think honesty is always best, even when talking with our children. So, if you can't afford to accomplish an idea, it's okay to say that. Or if you won't have time to plan the details. Or if you simply have enough on the list already.

Our kids suggested camping, but I pointed out that we were already hoping to do that this fall, so we wouldn't be able to do it this summer as well. Another suggested us to go to the Indianapolis Children's Museum, but I simply pointed out that we did that this spring and that we would have to save up money to be able to go again this year. 

Want some ideas for your bucket list? 

Here's the one we made for this year:
  • Pick strawberries (we already did this last week!)
  • See a movie in a movie theater
  • Go on a nature walk
  • See James and the Giant Peach
  • Visit Calypso Cove Waterpark
  • VIsit the Science Center
  • Visit the Zoo
  • Participate in our church Vacation Bible School
  • Go to an ice cream shop
  • Day trip to Deam Lake
  • Hang out with grandparents
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Movie night at home with popcorn and candy
  • Visit family in Ohio
Several of these items are happening in conjunction with a local Cultural Pass program we have in Louisville where we get to go to local attractions for free during the summer months. Some of these are things we will do more than once, like go on a nature walk. But the kids wanted to add them to the list still. (Maybe I'm raising kids that like to check things off a list just like their mama? Ha!) And a couple of the items are big things (Like VBS or visiting family in Ohio) that we already planned on doing before making the list.

4. Plan to complete at least one activity per week.

This is simply a math suggestion. But if you x number of items on your bucket list and y number of weeks to complete your list, you need to make a certain number of activities happen each week to get the list completed.

5. Enjoy making memories!

That's the goal here. Connection with your kids while creating memories!

Overall, I'm feeling really hopeful for this summer and even if we don't complete everything on our bucket list, I will have confidence that I purposefully pursued a positive memory-making summer with my kids.

Let's do this friends!

What ideas do you have for a summer bucket list? Share below!

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