Hello, May!
Designing my summer 2024

Designing our summer: kid activities, daily routines, and family fun


I can't believe it's time for my "designing our summer" blog posts again, which I really enjoyed writing last year (kid summer, my summer). But here we are with a week and a half of school left!! Today I'll share what we're thinking in terms of summer kid activities, daily routines, and family fun. Later this week I'll share a post with ideas for how I'm designing summer for myself as well.


Summer big picture

Here's a fun little realization I've had this year: as much as I dislike the extreme heat of summer, I kind of love planning for summer. Our eight-week summer break is long enough to fit in lots of stuff but ends just before summer gets stale (which it definitely gets here because it's so hot). Summer is like an eight-week blank slate challenge for me, and I love channeling my most Pollyanna self to plan, schedule, and optimize my way out of a challenge.


Chris and I started our summer planning conversation perhaps as early as February (?!) because summer camp enrollments began in March. To wrap my head around summer I created a simple weekly calendar in Google Sheets with one horizontal section for each of the eight weeks of summer break. I'm showing a simplified version of my calendar here for privacy but for each week I have two rows, one for where Maeve will be and the other for where the boys will be. Also in this calendar I did some tabulating out to the side to see how much summer camps will cost and what our bi-weekly bill will be for the day camp the kids will attend. It's nice to have it all in one spot.

I could do the same thing in Google calendar, which I use daily, but I like this simple format for planning this particular season. I really like being able to easily see where in the summer we have trips and camps, and to show Maeve's activities lined up next to the boys. This helps me see where we could fit in some family fun, a day trip, or something like that.



Kid activities

All of the kids are going to a nearby day camp this summer which I hope will give us a good foundation of activity for the kids and offer some work and leisure time for Chris and myself. Because I firmly believe that mom and dad should get a summer break too if schedules allow, and ours do. Maeve's program will essentially be like preschool while the boys will get to do field trip activities like go to trampoline parks and go swimming. Two days per week all of the kids will be at camp and two days per week only Maeve will be at camp. On Fridays all the kids will be home.

The boys also have some other fun activities. They are both going to a week of sleep-away camp this summer and are very excited. Like they did last summer, they'll also be flying to Austin by themselves again tto visit my parents. Fostering independence in my kids is so important to me so I really love these big adventures for them.

On the days when Maeve is at camp and the boys are home, Chris and I brainstormed and listed activities we could do with the boys like:

+ playing racquetball and climbing at the rec center

+ arranging hang outs (because they are NOT play dates) and sleepovers

+ some possible independent wandering in downtown Gilbert or a nearby outdoor mall

+ summer movies for cheap at local theaters

+ playing boards games and card games which the boys have been very into lately (yay!)

+ letting the boys bake something

+ showing the boys some classic movies like The Cutting Edge, Apollo 13, Father of the Bride, and Star Wars (your tween movie recs welcome!), and

+ checking out the FloRider surf pool in Mesa.

On Fridays when Maeve is home maybe we'll sometimes have a family Fun Friday outing or activity. Or Chris or I could take just Maeve to do something, possibly arranged with one of her friends, like the Mesa children's museum or a splash pad.


Daily routines

We'll continue using the boy's morning checklists through the summer, and Maeve might be ready for one as well. For the boys at-home days I'm thinking of assigning them a simple morning chore to do as part of their morning routine. We also want to pack the boys a lunch (or have them pack one for themselves) on their at-home days so that Chris and I aren't being short-order cooks at lunch and so the boys will actually eat. When we leave making a meal up to them, they'll often just skip the meal and spend the day snacking.

For summer screen time, here's what we're thinking: we'll maintain our no afternoon screen time Monday – Thursday rule, just like the school year. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the boys are home they can do screens during the day, but have to stop once Maeve gets home. However, before doing any screen time the boys first have to do half an hour of typing practice. Chris and I think typing is such an important skill and it doesn't seem to be taught at school, even though there's lots of computer use. So we're hoping to make some progress this summer. Hashtag fun mom! 

We have some other screen time limits in place that we'll maintain as well, such as a one hour limit on You Tube kids, and I might put a limit on all the little game apps they play as well. I'd like to put a few educational and hopefully kind of fun apps on their iPads for the summer to try to entice them. Duolingo is one idea, and I'd like to get both of them set up to create music using Garage Band. Do you have any other great app recommendations for tweens?



Family fun

I usually go into summer reluctantly, but then, when I look back at my photos, I always see that we found lots of at-home, around town, and adventurous family fun during the summer. I love that and over the years it has helped me reframe my attitude towards summer (at least somewhat!).

We'll kick off the summer with the moms + kids camp out which I'll take all three kids on this year. This will also mean Chris will get to enjoy the house to himself for two nights! The very next week Chris will take the kids up to Prescott on a trip with his sister and I'll get two solo nights at home. We're trying to create opportunities for each of us to get a night or two at home occasionally as we both find them so restorative.

We have one family trip this summer to San Diego in early July which I am very excited for. We are going with all our Arizona Wharton family and renting a huge house in La Jolla. So that will let us escape the heat and break up the summer.

We'll bring back cold treats Wednesday and find a cold treat every Wednesday (or thereabouts depending on camp, travel, etc.). I'm thinking that on Wednesdays we'll pick the kids of from day camp, go get ice cream in the late afternoon and then have a light and snacky dinner those nights. Once a week I'd love to pack a picnic dinner and have dinner at the pool.

Otherwise we'll see what fun the summer brings!


I would love to know: what kind of summer are you percolating in terms of activities for kids (if you have them), daily routines, and family fun?


P.S. Summer days in Wisconsin, designing our summer 2021, designing our summer 2018 (my first summer after quitting my full time job)