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

Plus a free printable summer bucket list!

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 that a bit of summer planning helps my family be intentional about spending time together so I don’t feel quite as guilty when I have to spend time at work.

I’ve shared before about how to make summer break easier and how to make summer plans during a pandemic. This year, I’m sharing my best summer planning tips that my family really uses!

1. 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. For example, this year some of our family goals include redecorating the loft in our house, trying new restaurants in our city and hanging some artwork we’ve been needing to hang forever.

Our list of family summer goals

2. 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. Last year my daughter had a goal to learn to cook more, and she did. This year, both kids have a goal to learn how to type better and organize their bookcases. My son has set a goal of reading three graphic novels on his own this summer. And my daughter has set a goal for writing a novel. My husband and I set goals as well like organizing our bathroom closet. He also has some books to sort out, and I need to organize my office space. These are just a few of our individual goals. Writing them down helps us remember them and doing it as a family helps keep us accountable.

Our list of individual summer goals

3. Make a summer bucket list for your family.

But summer isn’t all about being productive. Summer planning also has to include some fun. Our favorite way to organize fun is 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. Keep your summer bucket list simple!

Our summer bucket list took two pages this year!

4. Organize your kids’ summer activities.

Part of summer planning means 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.

5. Plan for downtime.

Remember that 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). One of our requirements this summer is that our kids spend at least three to four hours each week intentionally doing things together just the two of them.

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. In fact, they were so on board with the boredom busters’ list that they immediately started an activity together after we finished working on it.

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

6. 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 back a half hour), 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.

7. Remember lots of fun activities are free!

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.

Through the years, though, we have found there are many free activities we can do together during summer break that are super fun. We really do often make the best memories in the small moments. Our local library offers a great variety of free summer programs and there are so many other free activities if you just look for them. Definitely do so!

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

8. 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!

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.

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