Spring break might still be barely behind us, yet summer vacation is now on the horizon. How well you handle this year’s summer depends on the weeks leading up to July and August. Want some tips for a happy, stress-free summer? Here are 6 key actions that smart parents deploy to keep their kids entertained and themselves cool-headed through the dog days of summer.
Family Vacation: How to Prepare for a Happy, Stress-Free Summer
Figure out your summer budget
USA Today reports that most Americans will go $1,000 into debt to fund their vacation.
Do not let your summer fun put you into debt because you failed to stick to your budget. Crunch the numbers. Figure out how much you can put toward your family’s summer without going into debt or withdrawing from your 401k.
Once you have come up with a number, keep your eye on it as you make your summer plans with your kids. Do not despair if your budget is smaller than in years past. There are plenty of free or cheap summer activity options that a little research will unearth.
Take care of pending, possible problems now
Hoping to finally get to some water damage repair or a certain house improvement task over the summer? Might want to rethink that.
Summertime might mean carefree days for your kids, but not so for parents. For parents, summer heralds days that are busier than ever, what with trying to keep track of your brood.
List up those tasks that need doing. And then do them now in order to have a safe, stress-free summer. Resolve to get to them before your kids’ last day of school. Having a clear deadline of when those odd jobs need to be done might even be the incentive you need to stop procrastinating.
Share summertime wish lists
Every member of the family will have their own wish list for this summer. Have a family meeting to get to know each other’s expectations. Remember, unmet expectations are one of the leading factors for conflict and tension. So if you want a tension-free summer, allow each person to freely express what is at the top of their wish list.
My husband wanted to take our kids to an FC Barcelona game when they were playing an exhibition game in the United States. He researched the best family hotels in Washington DC to find us a hotel near the stadium. It was an experience that sparked a love of soccer in our kids.
Naturally, you might not be able to meet them all. For example, Little Junior’s top wish might be in conflict with your top wish. But it is better to face those issues now, while you have time to figure out a win-win solution. Then to deal with hurt feelings and anger later.
Make a list of activities and fun options
Devote an afternoon to researching summer camps, day trips, and other fun activities for your kids. If you have left this type of planning to the last minute in years past and have been unhappy with the results, change it up this year.
Research, research, research. From adventure camps to academic camps, to art camps, and more. The types of summer camps available have never been wider. Look for early bird deals. And remember, summer camps fill up fast. And babysitters who you can trust get booked in advance, too. If you and your partner are also hoping for a little summer vacation, away from the kids, then you need to start arranging for that yesterday.
Create a calendar of events
Put up a large calendar outlining the summer months. Place it in a central location, and make sure everyone logs in trips, activities, and other engagements as plans materialize.
Alternatively, you could create a shared online calendar that all members of the family have access to. Apple’s Family Sharing with the Calendar app allows each member of the family to know what is going on with each person. Or, if you are a Google calendar fan, create a family calendar via Google’s calendar program.
Have a basic daily schedule
Even if you have ambitious plans to have the kids out of the house, whether with trips or with summer camps, there will be days when your kids are at home. Have a basic daily plan that can cover these days. Create a list of at-home activities that the kids can do and add to this list whenever an idea comes to mind. For instance, treehouse building, summer reading, crafting, baking, and other hobbies.
Additionally, if your kids have summer homework, then make sure you come to an agreement with your kids on what days that will be taken care of. Don’t let them convince you to leave it to the last day.
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