I'm a planner and I thrive on routine.
I think that's why the mere mention of Summer Vacation never ceases to send me into a cold sweat.
Don't get me wrong -- I can handle a couple days of spontaneity every weekend. But day after day of an open schedule stretching through the summer months -- I have a hard time coping. I've learned the hard way that I inevitably run out of fun things to do with the kids. Or, even worse, I stumble across some really great activities, but I'm too late to sign up or have missed them entirely. It makes for a very long 10 weeks.
What doesn't work for me is not having a plan in place.
That's where the Summer Planning Session comes into play. For the past three years, I've gotten together with four of my closest girlfriends for a "Girls Night Out/What are We Going to Do with the Kids This Summer" dinner. This is where we all pool our collective resources. Julie brings information on Vacation Bible School and music classes. Christine has a son on the swim team, so she's our go-to person for water sports/lessons. Abby, Bridget and I are always about town, so we bring fliers for things we've seen -- storytimes at the library, special community-wide events and the like.
After ordering dinner and drinks, we set it all out on the table and talk about it. We bring calendars so we can check our availability. We might even pick a few special dates for pizza night at the local pool or plan a field trip day to a museum. The goal isn't to create a jam-packed schedule, (it is vacation, after all), but we want to schedule some fun activities to keep the kids busy and to make the most of their time off.
We don't usually do everything we plan. Some ideas are never executed. Some classes are never attended. But in the end, we have a framework. In other words, some semblance of a clue of what we'll be doing for the next 10 weeks.
It's just enough structure for me to relax and enjoy the time I have with my kids. It helps me to make the most of our summer together, and allows us to make some great memories in the process.
To find out other things people have learned the hard way, head over to Shannon's place for What Doesn't Work for Me Wednesday!