15 Easy ideas to plan a fun and organized summer for your family 

Plus a free printable summer bucket list!

Figuring out how to spend a fun and organized summer break isn’t as hard as you think with summer planning ideas that really work!

Summer break can be such a high-pressure and stressful time. We know we have limited summers with our kids, but life doesn’t stop just because it’s summer. 

Balancing mom guilt and summer break is a very real struggle! Through the years I’ve learned a little planning for summer helps my whole family be intentional about spending time together so I don’t feel quite as guilty when I have to spend time at work.

1. Decide how many activities your kids can do for the summer.

We are intentional during the school year about how many activities our kids are allowed to participate in. We like for our children to have free time and don’t want them to be over-scheduled.

Summer is very similar. Their summer schedule isn’t quite a limited since they don’t have school in the mix, but they are limited enough so that we have plenty of quality time as the entire family to do fun things. 

Our kids have the whole rest of their lives to be busy. We do our very best to keep our summers low-key.

2. Make a list of summer family goals.

I tend to like my downtime to include a mix of relaxing and productivity. My husband and kiddos are pretty similar, so part of our summer planning is writing down summer family goals

I’m a list maker through and through, so a lot of our summer plans include using lists as a great way to keep us on track.

We make a list of goals as a family, such as organizing closets, walking the dog regularly and cleaning out the garage. The summer months really are a great time to get some things accomplished together with some family teamwork.

Our list of family summer goals

3. Make a list of summer individual goals.

Along those same lines, we also like to come up with individual goals for the summer. We each come up with things we’d like to personally accomplish over the summer and write them down. 

We use these as a perfect opportunity to get around to those things we have put off for too long during the busier school year. Sitting down as a family is the perfect time to give feedback and encouragement for the goals we each want to accomplish.

Just be sure to set goals that are reasonable and attainable. Sometimes my children have needed a bit of help paring down their ideas!

Another bonus to summer goals is that when the children get bored, we can point them to their list of goals and suggest they spend a little time working on it.

Our list of individual summer goals

4. Make a summer bucket list for your family.

But summer isn’t all about being productive. Summer planning also has to include some fun. My own family organizes fun summer activities with a summer bucket list

I love this for a couple of reasons. First, sitting down with our kids at the beginning of summer to come up with ideas of what they want to do helps my husband and I prioritize those things. 

Second, when my kids invariably start bemoaning that we haven’t done anything fun all break, we can show them the list with all the items we’ve done so far marked off!

Sometimes coming up with ideas can be a challenge, so I’ve put together a free summer bucket list printable full of ideas to get you started. They are all low or no-cost ideas that are great for making family memories together. 

Free summer bucket list in US Letter and A4 sizes

Overall, the best summer bucket list is one that is simple and full of affordable, realistic ways to have some family fun!

Our summer bucket list took two pages this year!

5. Make a list of people to visit.

This goes right along with the summer bucket list and often makes it onto our list. Extra time over summer vacation means more time to spend with extended family members and friends. 

So part of the summer planning process for our family is talking about who we want to visit with, including any sleepovers with friends our kids want to plan or time with their grandparents. 

Having this listed helps me figure out our summer calendar more easily to make sure everyone is getting a chance to enjoy the time off from school.

6. Find all sorts of free activities.

With just a minimum amount of efforts, you can find all sorts of affordable ways to have some summer fun in your community and even your own backyard. 

Lots of communities offer a free outdoor concert or two during the summer. The warm weather is also a good time to visit local parks and check out the playgrounds or nature — depending on your children’s ages and interests.

Don’t forget the local library. For years, it has been a great source of free programs for my own family that’s included animal shows, magic shows and more.

Then, don’t overlook the fun at home. Buy some water balloons and spend a hot afternoon dousing each other outside. Or during cooler evening hours, plan outdoor games your whole family can enjoy like croquet or cornhole.

Rainy days are the best time to peruse your own game collection to make memories. Play board games, video games or whatever your family most likes!

7. Have an electronics plan.

Screen time is often a big debate and struggle during the summer months. I don’t mind for my kids to have some screen time, but I don’t want them to have lots of time just looking at a screen.

Figure out the best electronics plan for your own family. Some families go for detailed plans that include a daily schedule of items to do before allowing screentime.

For my family, a more laidback approach has worked best. When our children were younger, they had to always ask permission before getting on a screen.

Now, we use Google Family to monitor and limit their screentime as necessary.

8. Keep fun supplies handy.

Kids often forget about things that are out of sight, so keep fun supplies available and accessible. 

For example, make sure they can get to their bikes easily. Don’t forget other favorite summer activities like sidewalk chalk, rubber balls, outdoor games and water toys.

Having items easily accessible and even visible can help inspire your kiddos to find something to do on their own.

9. Organize your kids’ summer activities.

Summer planning ideas also include figuring out the activities your kids are going to be doing and when. I have a monthly overview I use along with printouts of calendars for June, July and August that help me organize my kids’ activities to make sure that we aren’t overscheduled. 

My in-laws like to have each of my kiddos over individually for about a week each summer. Seeing their schedule organized helps me best plan those times as well as when it would be good for us to take a family vacation, whether that’s for a week or just a weekend.

It also keeps me from overlapping activities and making our schedule too busy.

Our monthly overview for June, July and August
Our June, July and August activity calendars
Using the monthly planning page and calendars makes trip planning easier.

10. Plan for downtime.

Remember you don’t have to fill every minute of your kids’ summer break with activities. Right along with no overscheduling, you want to build in time for your kids to just have downtime. 

It’s OK to let them figure out what to do on their own (within reason, of course). We try to encourage our children to be intentional about doing an activity or two together each week during the summer.

So, we made a list of boredom busters to give them ideas of what to do together from reading a book to doing a craft to playing with the dog and so much more. 

Our page of boredom busters, including outdoor and indoor scavenger hunts

11. Have a daily routine, even if it’s a loose one.

I’m a fan of regular routines and schedules. In fact, routines really do make my family happier

Routines give kids a sense of stability. They know what to expect, and that’s less stressful for them. 

While I do loosen up a bit during the summer (bedtime usually moves later), we do stick with many routines for bedtime and mealtimes. 

Of course there are times that shifts around for special activities. However, maintaining our general daily routine helps us all.

12. Let them know what to expect each day.

Kids do best when they know what to expect. While we do maintain our routine somewhat over the summer, it is definitely more laidback and less scheduled. 

Every morning, I try to go over with the kids a brief outline of what’s happening that day. It can be as simple as, “We’re going to the grocery store this afternoon.” Their favorite tends to be: “We don’t have anywhere to go today!”

No matter what, they like knowing what the day holds and I do, too. Of course plans change sometimes, but setting their expectations for the day helps. 

That’s especially true when I do have an errand or chore that needs done. Though I also love telling them when something fun going is on that day, too, like watching a movie in the evening.

13. Think about your budget.

Part of my summer planning includes figuring out a budget for summer activities. I try to be as fair as possible between my two kiddos and how much money we spend on their activities. And sometimes we have to choose between a couple of activities not only for time constraints but also for budget reasons. 

If you want to plan a family road trip or weekly ice cream outings, make sure that you have worked those into your budget as well. Lots of “little” summer fun activities can add up to impact your budget, so you want to be aware of it.

Our activity budget helps us plan our costs for summer activities.

14. Have easy snacks ready.

Though they only eat three meals and maybe one snack during school days, summer break tends to make my kids want to graze. And since they’re usually more active in summer, I get it. 

They’re old enough now that they can usually fix their own snack if I keep things on hand for them. So, I keep things around that I can say yes to most of the time like Gogurt (frozen is super great for the summer!), boxes of raisins, 4-pack peanut butter crackers, Goldfish, pretzels, easy fruit I can prep ahead (grapes, blueberries, bananas, etc.), applesauce pouches, fruit cups and granola bars. 

I have a bin in our pantry where these mom-approved snacks reside. It’s makes life easier so the kids can know what is a snack I’ll easily agree to. 

Of course, I say yes to fun treats because it’s just fun for all of us!

15. Don’t forget to enjoy your kids.

No matter what you’re planning this summer, make sure to embrace feeling like a kid again yourself sometimes.

Last summer, for example, we had a family yes day and I felt like a kid myself during a water balloon fight we had. I squealed and giggled with the kiddos and we had a blast. 

Plan some low-key, easy, fun activities that will let you relax and enjoy spending time with your kiddos. Summer perfect for making good family memories!

I know that I will never regret the time I spent with my children but I might regret doing other things instead. So, I do my very best to carve out time over summer break that is just for fun for us. 

Make your summer planning even easier

If you’re interested in copies of the lists I’ve mentioned in this post and show in the YouTube video below, you can find my entire Summer Planner Mega Bundle in the Families with Grace Etsy store. Use the coupon code FWGFAN to get an additional 10% off your purchase! The Summer Planner Mega Bundle includes all of the following:

  • Summer family goals
  • Summer individual goals
  • 2 Summer bucket lists (one prefilled and one blank)
  • Summer trip planner
  • 2 reading trackers
  • 1 reading log
  • 3 chore charts
  • Weekly overview
  • Monthly overview
  • June calendar
  • July calendar
  • August calendar
  • Summer activity budget planner
  • Books to read list
  • Indoor scavenger hunt
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Summer boredom buster list
  • Rewards coupons for kids
  • Journal page
  • Notes page

About the Author: Stacey A. Shannon

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger who has been published internationally. She's also a Christian, a wife and a mom of two school-aged children. She started Families with Grace in 2019 to encourage Christian moms as they create homes filled with grace, love and faith.

Be sure to get the FREE family devotion book, "Finding Grace at Home: 7 Days of 5 Minute Devotions for Families." It's a great way to help your family draw closer to each other and to God.

Motherhood can be lonely. You weren't meant to go on your motherhood journey alone. Connect with Stacey and other Christian moms like you in the private Facebook group, Moms with Grace!

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