What's up for summer vacation?

It’s time to start planning out your summer vacation. What?!? It’s only May! Exactly. In less than one month those kids are going to be out of school and bored out of their mind unless you have some fun activities lined up for them. And rather than wait until June 1st, the time to start planning your summer itinerary is NOW!

So what to do?

I’m glad you asked. The best way to create a fun summer is to stick your kids on a loose schedule. Mark on your calendar certain activities for certain days, such as making Monday a pool day and Friday a library day. During the school year, kids are on a pretty tight schedule. In class, they know what days they get PE, and they know which days are library day. After school activities are the same way. This helps them to be prepared for the week, and to know what to expect. It also helps the weeks go by faster, and helps them to retain the information they are required to learn. Let’s face it, when there are unexpected surprises thrown at a child, it can cause them to lose focus and become cranky. Even as adults we tend to become more scattered when our routines are interrupted. Putting a schedule in place will help alleviate the “Mom, I’m bored!” blues, or the “What are we going to do today?” anthem. Of course, this is summer vacation. The main reason that a child looks forward to summer vacation all year long is because they have been overscheduled for 9 months out of the year. So always leave room for downtime so that your child can sleep in a little and also have time to play with their friends or rediscover the toys in their room.

One of the things that my daughter suggested for summer vacation is to create a Bucket List of all the things that the family would like to do over the summer. This can be a great conversation at dinnertime as the whole family participates in brainstorming ideas for activities. Together, my daughter and I created a list for moms of big and little kids, which I have included in the Santa Rosa Mom forums. Some of those ideas include bike riding, watching planes take off at the airport, having a picnic, collecting bugs and having a bug race, painting a picture, decorating the sidewalk with chalk art, holding a backyard campout, and grabbing a camera and playing tourist in your own town. Last year, a couple of local moms came up with their own bucket list for their young and older children. I urge you to check out their list as well when creating your own bucket list.

And then, of course, there are the actual vacations when you pack your family up and head off to someplace else for a couple of days. Taking your family on vacation can be a really fun experience, or it can be a nightmare. The best thing to remember when it comes to family vacation is that it is for the kids as well. Make sure there are plenty of fun things they can look forward to doing while away from home, and keep the adult activities (like perusing art galleries or shopping) to a minimum. If you can, vacation with another family so that the adults can switch off on kid duties while the other gets some time to enjoy things that might not be of interest to the little ones. For travel time, make sure that there are plenty of things for the kids to do. Create a travel bag that is filled with games that can be played easily in a car or an airplane, coloring books and crayons, and a new book or two. It is also helpful if you make a list of travel games they can play, such as Eye Spy (looking for certain items outside the vehicle with only one clue given) or the Alphabet Game (searching for all the letters in the alphabet in order from signs, license plates, etc). And keep in mind that while your whole family is together, some kids get homesick. If that is your child, keep the vacation long enough to have a good time and unwind, but short enough so that they can be back and sleeping in their own bed before they miss it.

Since we are now midway through May and June is staring us down, I have three goals for you to complete by the end of this week.

1. Set a budget for summertime fun and vacations and stick to it. It’s unnecessary for your family to go broke just to entertain the kids during the summer, and having a budget in place will alleviate any stress that you are trying to escape during the next carefree months.

2. Make reservations.  If you are going camping, flying away anywhere, sending the kids to camp or summertime daycare, or staying in a hotel, DO NOT WAIT ANY LONGER TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE!  You are not the only one who is planning out their summer vacation. If you procrastinate on making reservations, you may find that your plans will have to change because everything is booked up.

3. Mark up your calendar or make a bucket list with things to do for the next three months. Have at least one plan for each week so that the kids have something to look forward to. And let the kids help you in deciding some fun things to do.

What are some of your ideas and tips for creating a fun and memorable summer vacation?

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2 thoughts on “What's up for summer vacation?”

  1. For the best family vacation ever check out the Family Vacation Center in Santa Barbara: familyvacationcenter.com

    It is the best family vacation ever.

  2. Love wine country in Santa Rosa, but another great area you should check out for a vacation would be Santa Barbara! Such a great town and there is a lot to do there for children and adults alike! I was just there with my family and we had a great time hiking and kayaking! The weather was great and we had a blast. At night my husband and I would go to fabulous restaurants and shows. We stayed at the Sandman Inn (www.thesandmaninn.com). So affordable and the location is excellent; close to all the action Santa Barbara has to offer!

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