How to Have Your Best Summer – Setting a Summer Rhythm

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Summer is just around the corner! Even though my girls aren’t in school, there’s a change in the air when summer hits. Our dance class will be finished in a few weeks (after Eva has her first recital – ah!) and our schedule will be pretty free. It can be so nice to just breath a bit at the start of summer and enjoy the freedom after so many deadlines, projects, and end-of-year activities, but me and my girls are all so much happier (and better behaved) with a bit of a routine.

Today I’m going to share our summer rhythm – a kind of loose routine we stick to in the summer that allows us to feel productive, accomplished, and tidy, while still being spontaneous and allowing a lot of time for fun.

Create a daily to-do list

I do this for myself and my girls. Actually, I have a morning to-do list and an evening to-do list.

For myself, I always get up early, read for pleasure, read scriptures, journal and meditate, and make my bed. Every day I make a point to exercise (either at the gym, on a run, or doing some fun activity today) and actually get ready for the day.
For the girls, they wake up, eat breakfast, read scriptures and pray, do preschool time, get ready, and we read together. They also do some small household chores: load the dishwasher, put away laundry, sort laundry, water plants, help make beds. I don’t keep a chart, we just do what needs to get done that day!
Our evening routine is much more relaxed: tidy up the house, bath time and brush teeth, read together, sing, and go to bed.
My evening routine consists of a quick tidy around the house, planning the next day, showering/skincare, spending time with Brett, turning off electronics early (and leaving them downstairs to charge) and reading before bed.
Doing all of this makes such a big difference. Even if we don’t do much of anything the rest of the day (I’m totally fine with playing in the back yard and eating popsicles), we’ve accomplished a lot in our morning and evening routines. It helps the girls to feel accountable, and helps any one person in the family from shouldering too much of the housekeeping burden. Spreading out our tasks also makes it easier to get out of the house in the morning.

Make your Summer Bucket List

I swear by making a seasonal bucket list. You can read my spring 2019 bucket list here and my summer 2019 bucket list here. It helps cut out all of the noise of what you could be doing – gymnastics summer camps for kids, going on a big trip, completing a ton of hikes – and helps you focus on what your family actually cares about doing.
We like to sit down one weekend morning before the seasons change and talk as a family about what should go on our list – if you had to pick only a handful of things to do that would make it feel like you had a GREAT summer, what would you pick? I am adamant that we walk on the beach, collecting seaglass, and stop by the little beach town I vacationed at as a child. Brett says he can’t go a year without waterskiing. The girls both want to catch fish, blow bubbles, go to the splash pad, and ride on a boat – so that’s what we’ll do!

When you plan your weeks during the summer, reference your bucket list and plan a few items a week that bring fun to your days. Big or small, you’ll end up feeling like you’ve accomplished a lot and actually enjoyed your summer.

Follow a loose schedule
If you have little ones who still need naps, this tip will help you a lot when planning your summer. We follow a loose schedule all summer long that helps us to decide what and when to do things. I separate my day into blocks.
Our morning block (from wake up to noon) is when we get ready for the day, do our morning routine, and go on adventures or run errands if need be. Our afternoon block is when we nap and spend time at home, make dinner, and have time with Brett after work.
It’s super simple, but it takes the guess work out of when to make your trip to the splash pad – go during the block you’ve set aside for adventures. Of course, this is a loose schedule for summer, so some days we don’t get moving until later, or we forego the evening at home for an all-day affair. Generally speaking, though, this is a sanity saver.
I know a lot of other people who love having ‘theme’ days: Make Something Monday, Trip Tuesday, Water Wednesday, etc. I love that and it’s definitely something to try! For us, I don’t want to limit myself by the day and I’d rather utilize the days with the best weather to have our big adventures or go swimming.

Plan time for fun

If you are a task-driven, to-do-list wielding productivity zealot like me, taking the day off of work work in favor of a day at the beach is not actually a day at the beach. I’ve found that for me to be happy and present during our fun times, I need to set the date in advance.

My mother-in-law often says you need to ‘plan fun’ and I love that advice and try to follow it myself. Because we live in an area that can vary wildly in weather, I usually plan our activities around when it will be really nice out – we could have four consecutive swim days, if it’s warm and sunny! – but I need to tell myself that before and adjust my expectations accordingly. I might not finish that house project this week, but I’ll have plenty of time to do it next week (you know, when it rains for 72 hours straight.)

Keep a go-bag handy

One big time-suck for us is getting ready to go in the mornings. My girls have gotten pretty good at getting dressed and putting on their shoes, but it’s me that’s lagging when I need to remember swim diapers, SPF 270 (for my pale babies), and towels. It’s always the towels I forget!
A few summers ago, I started making a summer go-bag and leaving it in the entry way or in the car. I keep diapers, swim diapers, SPF, bug spray, a picnic blanket, towels, a few small toys or books, a small bag of change/small bills (for beach parking or treats), sunhats, and swim coverups all in a tote bag ready for our next adventure. I stow ours by the front door so that I can throw in our water bottles and snacks at the last minute, and so that when we are done in the evening I can take swim suits out to dry and throw towels in the wash. This little trick saves me so much time and energy in the mornings!

You can print this list to help put together your own go bag. I also wrote a more detailed post with exactly what I have packed in our summer bag here.

Set your summer intention
I love the idea of setting your intention before the summer. The same way a bucket list helps you cut out the noise, setting your intention helps you focus on the big over-arching goal of your summer. Do you want to do lots of adventures as a family? Feel more settled in your new neighborhood? Spend time with friends?
I remembering hearing this from a mom who was about to spend her last summer with her daughter before she went off to college – they called it their girl-time summer and I LOVED that! Because they set their intention that it would be girl-time summer, they were able to measure how much any given activity/event/project fit into what they really wanted to accomplish.

Our last summer was definitely about getting settled into our new home – we’d just moved and had SO much to do! Now that we are feeling cozy in our place, I think it’s time for us to establish our summer 2019 intention.

What do you do to create a summer rhythm for your family? Do you like to keep a schedule or let your days unfold before you? And what’s your summer intention this year? I would LOVE to hear it!

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