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Designing my summer 2023: summer camp days for the parents, cooking + eating, capsule wardrobe

Designing our summer 2023: schedule, routines, and fun with the kids


The boys finished school last Thursday so it's officially summer for us! Given that summer is my least favorite desert weather and I don't typically love the lack of routine, I'm feeling surprisingly excited and optimistic for this summer. Hey, I'll take it!

Chris and I spent some time this spring brainstorming around "designing our summer" (a term from Gretchen Rubin that I fell in love with years ago) and then we had a summer planning coffee date to make concrete plans. We made plans for how we'll keep the kids busy, what family fun we can look forward to, and how we'll have fun ourselves too. In this post I'd love to share what we have planned in terms of our schedule, routines, and having fun with the kids. I also have another post coming up on the things bringing me summer joy including some summer fun with Chris, summer cooking + eating, and my capsule summer wardrobe.

Camps, daycare, and our work schedules

The boys' summer activities include going camping with me and a few other families, a sports camp they'll do together, a sports camp only Cedric will do, a gaming and coding camp for Cedric, visiting my parents in Austin on their own (!), and for the first time ever a week of sleep-away camp for Dash (!!). Booking all of these camps was NOT inexpensive and for a while we felt like money was flying out the door with alarming speed. To be transparent my parents generously offered to pay for some of the boys' summer activities which was a huge help (thank you!!). But even with the financial help it's still been a very spendy season. However, we know the experience of how challenging it can be to keep active kids busy through our very hot summers so we feel good about where we allocated extra funds.

Keeping with the theme of kids' activities and extra spending, Maeve will continue at her same daycare through the summer, and just started going Monday through Friday when a spot opened up. Having Maeve at daycare through the summer will mean we can have big kid summer fun with the boys that would be harder to do with Maeve because of her age and nap schedule, like spending an afternoon playing board games, going to the movies, or hosting a friend hang out. Maeve's daycare schedule also means that when the boys are at camps, Chris and I can have some summer days to ourselves which sounds quite amazing. We're calling those our summer camp days. Overall having Maeve at daycare means the summer days won't be as demanding and I'm thankful for that.

Working as a professor, Chris usually enjoys laid-back summers and has already kicked his off for this year. He does have continuing research projects and, as usual, will teach one online class. So he'll have some meetings and might go into the office some but for the most part he works from home and has a very flexible and less demanding schedule. Yay! I love summer Chris.

For my podcast work, Erica and I work to get ahead on recording so that we can have laid-back summers as well. I still have a lot of editing to do but it's work that I enjoy, plus I have the daycare days to do it. I hope to keep up a regular blogging routine through the summer as well plus make headway on some personal projects (like our family photos books) and should have the time. Otherwise I'm looking forward to finding summer fun with my kids and enjoying some summer camp days with Chris.


Daily routine + screen time

What do to about screen time in the summer? During the school year the boys get screen time (with their Nintendo Switch Lites for gaming or the iPad for watching Netflix) on Friday afternoons and for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. During the summer we're going to try out being more lax with screen time limits and see how it goes. I don't want the boys spending the whole summer on screens but I also don't want to have daily power struggles about it. Plus I'd like to try out letting the boys regulate themselves a bit, which is of course what we want to work towards before they leave for college one day.

So, the boys will need to do their usual morning routine including making their beds, eating breakfast, etc. before starting screen time. Lately we've been giving them a checklist which helps us not nag them. We had a chat with them and said we want them to balance screen time with reading, playing with friends (which often includes screen time but at least is social), and other activities. We also shared that we expect them to have good attitudes if we want to have family time, like playing a game together or going on an outing. The boys have camps nearly every other week so we already have a lot of built-in screen free time so I'm hoping it'll be a good balance. We'll see how it goes!


Summer fun with the kids

During our summer brainstorm, Chris and I thought of lots of everyday and bigger summer fun things we could do with the kids. We're thinking that ahead of each summer week we'll look at our list and chat with the kids to pencil in some activities for the week. Having a plan and structure helps me to be a more fun mom, and when the boys know something is coming up they're more likely to get on board.

Here are some of the summer fun things we came up with:

+ Bring back Cold Treats Wednesday where we find a different cold treat every week.

+ Play board, card, and dice games with the boys, and teach them a few new ones, like Monopoly Deal.

+ Take the boys on weekly movie dates to the summer movie series at the local Majestic Theaters (with kid movies for $3!)

+ Go to one of several public pools at least weekly, and make plans to meet up with friends there or bring friends with us (minivan for the win!).

+ Have family library dates, plus also go to the library without the kids sometimes and surprise them with a new book haul. One of the best ways we keep them reading is to keep them stocked with great books.

+ Gather our kid crossword and puzzle books and put out a page for each of the boys to do with breakfast, and find something similar for Maeve.

+ Find some fun online typing and math practice the boys might enjoy. (Does this disqualify me from being a #funmom? Haha.)

+ Take the boys, and maybe sometimes all the kids, to indoor trampoline parks.

+ Take the boys to the nearby Gilbert community center to spend a couple of hours where they have pool tables, a climbing wall, basketball court, and racquet ball courts. Even better if we can meet up with friends there.

+ Take Maeve to the fantastic Children's Museum of Phoenix where she has never been and to the i.d.e.a. children's museum in Mesa which Maeve loves and where we have a membership.

+ Build one or more of the play worlds for Maeve from the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids (and the boys would probably play with these as well!).


Whether you have kids at home or not, I'd love to hear what summer routines and summer fun you're planning.


P.S. Summer days in Wisconsin last year, designing our summer 2021, how to have a hygge summer and the rest of my summer archive posts.