5 Steps to a Better Summer Vacation for Kids and Parents

  • 01 of 06

    Make a Summer Plan This Year and Enjoy This Time With Your Kids

    Plan Your Kids summer vacation
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    School’s out for just three months, yet parents can spend that much time (or more) planning summer. And though some of the best summer fun for kids and parents is unplanned, the reality is those precious, spontaneous moments are few and far between.

    When you're a parent home with the kids, day in and day out, summer is long. Yet, you don’t want to look back only to feel as if you limped through it with your eyes cast toward Labor Day. So to make it go smoothly with happy memories at the end,...MORE parents need to line up multiple summer child care options around a schedule of vacation dates and deadlines while at the same time infusing some summer fun into their kids’ days.

    That's a tall order so it’s best to start the summer planning while the winter is still upon us. However, this step-by-step guide for summer planning will help whenever you get started.

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  • 02 of 06

    Step 1: Plot out the summer on a week-by-week basis.

    planning summer
    Getty/Sean Justice

    Print blank calendar pages to use as a rough draft. This allows you to put down mere possibilities, rather than marking and erasing on a paper calendar or deleting with no trace on an electronic calendar.

    Begin summer planning with the events that have certain dates. Put any vacations, summer camp, house guests, day trips, holidays, etc. that you already know on the calendar. Also add any important work-related dates, i.e. deadlines, vacations of colleagues, business travel, etc.

    Now you have a...MORE rough idea how many days or weeks for which you’ll need to make a summer plan.

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  • 03 of 06

    Step 2: Set summer goals.

    Kids Summer Activities Reading

    With a skeletal outline of the summer schedule in hand, it’s time to start setting goals. Summer goals might be work- or family-related. Professional goals could be something ambitious like completing a complicated project, or they could be as simple as setting a certain number of hours per week or day. Family-related goals might be taking day trips or enjoying this time with the kids with less stress.

    But take it easy on yourself when setting goals. Factor in that a general summer slowdown...MORE fueled by client and coworker vacations as well as the kids being home from school affect what you can accomplish.

    Perhaps the family already has a summer “bucket list” of things to do. If not, get some ideas from this list of 100 fun ideas for kids and parents. Or maybe there’s a skill kids didn’t quite master during the school year (math facts, shoe tying, etc.). Summer can be  the time to tackle it in a more relaxed way.

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  • 04 of 06

    Step 3: Search for summer child care.

    Kids Activities Summer Camp

    This is why it pays to start early. The sooner you start, the more child care options you will have. However, taking the time to complete steps 1 and 2 first will help you make the right decisions for your family.

    Now that you have a time frame and a goal, start filling in that calendar for real. Look over this list of 8 ideas for summer child care. Think about which ones would work for your family. Often parents use a mix of them. Summer camp one week, grandparents the next and then kids just...MORE might have to entertain themselves at home or with a babysitter for another week, etc.

    Many summer camps start filling up in February and March, and babysitters get booked by other moms before the school year is out. So don’t delay in implementing the details of the summer plan. But if you're getting a late start, don't despair either. Something will come together.

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  • 05 of 06

    Step 4: Make some decisions.

    Mom enjoying her this summer
    Getty/Caia Image CLOSED

    Given your options for child care and workload, are there many weeks or days still uncovered? If you've exhausted affordable child care options, then take a look at your work schedule instead. The next step may be to cut hours or rearrange your schedule to work evenings and weekends. Maybe your spouse can arrange a more flexible schedule for the summer. Consider whether to take a working vacation (i.e. you work, the kids play). That breaks up the monotony of spending the summer together at...MORE home for both parents and kids.

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  • 06 of 06

    Step 5: Plan the day-to-day activities.

    Kids string beads

    Unless you choose back-to-back weeks of summer camp, the kids will likely be home with you for some days in the summer. Check out these everyday summer activities for kids to do while you work. Think about how to move toward those goals you've set on a daily basis as you plan the days. But have some fun together too. Try some of these ideas for free summer fun or join a summer reading club.