Summertime. When the days are long, the living is easy and the kids are…home?!?! We all have some nostalgia for the summer days of our youth, but summertime as a parent is a little more complicated. Between ever shifting schedules, busy social calendars, sleepovers, camps and the days when the kids are home in between, moms have a lot on their plates and the living isn’t always easy.
So, what is a mom to do after schools close their doors and reality hits?
The key is preparation. A little extra planning now can lay the groundwork for a more stress-free summer – so keep calm and read on!
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PIN for when the urge to organize strikes!
PLOTTING YOUR COURSE
Create a Plan
Start a family calendar for the summer months now so you can capture all activities that you and your children will participate in including camp, playdates and travel. This way you will know what is coming up and what weeks or days you still have to fill up. Once school is out, hang the calendar where everyone can see it so you can all stay on the same page.
There are many ways to create an organized family calendar, but here are a few of our favorite ideas:
Take a simple dry-erase calendar board (the one we used above is from the Ubrands line at Target) and assign each family member a color – making it super easy to figure out who’s doing what each day.
(1) If you’re up for making your own, this colorful washi tape dry-erase calendar from The 36th Avenue is totally doable.
Or go super simple and combine washi tape with sticky notes to create beautiful monthly calendars, like the ones featured here from (2) Martha Stewart and (3) Modish on Main.
(4) An easy DIY project turns contact paper into a modern calendar and includes a genius way to create extra storage (check out the tutorial via Nifty/Buzzfeed)
(5) This Giant Command Center from Beneath My Heart uses chalkboard paint and a permanent paint marker to draw on the calendar frames – then all you need to do is fill in the details each month.
(6) Go for broke with a super-sized Giant Chalkboard Calendar (via HGTV) – your kids can’t possibly miss it!
(7) Or turn your whole wall into a chalkboard where you can hang multiple calendars, to-do lists, menu planning and more (via Houseful of Handmade).
(8) Add these smart “This Week” and “Next Week” charts made from inexpensive frames so you can highlight your plans for the upcoming days (via A Thousand Words).
Not so into DIY?
(9) We adore this vintage style chalkboard calendar wall decal from VersaChalk – at 24”x36” it’s big enough to include each family member’s schedule, and these incredible Wet Erase Chalkboard Markers eliminate any dusty messes.
(10) The addition of a corkboard and ledge for easy marker storage on this Dry Erase Calendar from Pottery Barn Teen make it one of our favorites – and the white frame makes it worthy of a place on your kitchen wall.
(11) If you want to create a complete command center, consider the beautiful pieces from Pottery Barn’s Daily System, which include a magnetic whiteboard, chalkboard, pinboard and letter bin (available in white or espresso). For a more rustic vibe, check out their Galvanized System as well.
RELATED: For more ideas on creating a Family Command Center & Backpack Area for your kids, see our popular post: 67 Life Changing Organization Tips & Hacks For Stress-Free Mornings
For those free days and weekends stay in touch with friends and family, including your children’s good friends, by planning outings and days to get together. Remember to make dates around some of the activities that are unique to summer such as days at the pool, leisurely BBQs outside, running through sprinklers and catching fireflies in mason jars.
Although unstructured days are always nice, it is best to maintain some routines over the summer to make life a little easier (especially when transitioning back to school in September!). Children thrive on consistency and structure, so if their summer activities are going to vary from week to week, get them involved with the family calendar so they can see what they are going to be doing and when. This will help make them feel like they are part of the process and more in control.
Keep their morning and bedtime routines as consistent as you can by using these incredible easy-to-follow charts:
(1) Magnetic Job Chart from The Crafting Chicks
(2) Clothespin DIY Daily Routine Chart via Listening in the Litany
(3) Bedtime Routine Dry Erase Printable from Kids Activity Blog
(4) Good Morning & Good Night Charts via Icing on the Paper
(5) Cookie Sheet Chore Chart via Craftaholics Anonymous
(6) Summertime Routine Cards from Modern Parents Messy Kids
(7) Daily Routine Cards from Military Wife and Mom
(8) Do it! Did It! Chart via Art Bar Blog
(9) Morning Routine Flash Cards via Living Locurto
(10) Morning Routine Hook Chart from Live Simply Me
(11) Bedtime Routine Printable via MomDot
(12) Flip up Chore Chart via My Name is Snicker Doodle
(13) Visual Schedule from Weeds to Wishes
(14) Modern Toddler Chore Chart via Dandee
(15) Our Morning/Bedtime Routine Chart via i heart organizing (scroll down to access printable)
Be Ready For When Boredom Strikes
No mom ever wants to hear “I’m bored”, so start stacking the deck in your favor now. As a family, or even on the fly, identify some fun activities, write them out on index cards and pin them next to the family calendar. That way when the “I’m bored”s start (it’s inevitable, right?), you already have a list of ideas ready to go.
Another way to make sure you always have ideas on hand is to create an “I’m Bored Jar”. Get inspired with some of our favorites from across the web:
(1) The “Mom I’m Bored” Jar from Wellness Mama
(2) I’m Bored Jar Free Printable via Vicky Barone
(3) “Mom I’m Bored” Jar via Somewhat Simple
(4) 40 Summertime Indoor and Outdoor Boredom Busters via The Crafting Chicks
(5) Washi Tape Summer Boredom Busters via While He Was Napping
(6) I’m Bored Jar with over 150 Summer activities from Mum in the Madhouse
(7) I’m Bored Art Jar from Making Lemonade
(8) DIY Printable I’m Bored Jar from Chippewa Valley Family
Look for activities at home or at camp that will keep your children engaged and learning about the world around them. Planting a garden is often a favorite because you can plant the seeds together when school lets out, task your children with watering them every day and then reap the benefits and have a fun cooking project come August when the plants are fully grown.
SECURING THE SUPPLIES
Restocking the Reserves
The home supply closet is often depleted after the long school year so stock up on paper, craft items and anything else that your children love to use when they are at home. If your children are heading to camp, buy name labels that can easily be applied to anything and everything that they will take with them (we love the selection from Mabel’s Labels).
Summer means days outdoors, lots of sun and bugs, so start stocking up now on sunscreen and bug repellant and check your first-aid kit to see what needs to be replenished. Grab extras to make “to go” packs that can be popped into bags on the way out of the house in the morning. That way everyone is covered no matter who is taking care of the kids that day.
RELATED: Our Top Safe Sunscreens For Babies And Kids That Won’t Leave Them With That Ghostly White Residue
Additionally, use this time to go through your kids’ summer clothing – sandals, sun protective clothing, bathing suits and hats – to make sure that they still fit so you know what you need to buy for when the temperature starts to soar. Sometimes a “try on” session is needed – turn it into a fun “fashion show” if you have any reluctant participants!
RELATED: Be A Role Model For Sun Safety With Cabana Life (While Being Stylish To Boot!)
Snacking doesn’t stop for summer! Get ready to prep snacks on the go with a functioning and properly labeled reusable water bottle for each family member, and a set of reusable containers for fruits and veggies.
RELATED: Don’t miss our thoroughly tested and highly recommended Non-Toxic Water Bottles for Big Kids and Reusable Bento Boxes
And, when it comes time to making the snacks themselves, consider getting the kids involved. Each week have them help prep the food (we love these kid-friendly knives for cutting fruit) and organize everything in a designated snack space in your fridge, pantry or cupboard. That way everything is ready to access when hunger strikes.
Check out all these incredible ways to make sure you have healthy snacks at hand all summer long:
It’s amazing how much more fruit and veggies our kids will eat when it’s cut up all pretty and easy to grab (via (1) Instagram @foodwaisted; (2) Put The Cookie Down on Tumblr)
If possible, store all perishables in the bottom section of your fridge so they can easily be reached by your kids.
(3) Doesn’t this set-up from Kristine’s Kitchen look so inviting?
(4) Or make a self-serve Healthy Snack Box like this one from Super Healthy Kids, or (5) this one from Little Penelope Lane or (6) these Pantry/Fridge bins from Happy Go Lucky.
(7) Your pantry can look this organized simply by using clear jars, containers and stackable storage bins – stock them with healthy options that your kids can easily find and access without having to yell “mooOOoom, where’s the…?” (via Martha Stewart).
(8) You can even get a head-start on snack prep now by making these clever smoothie freezer packs (via Dessert Now Dinner Later) that you can simply pop in the blender to make a healthy and cooling summer treat.
(9) Or how about these beautiful Fresh Fruit Popsicles (via One Little Project) or (10) Easy Rainbow Fruit & Veggie Ice Pops (via Hello Wonderful).
The Seasonal Switch
Bikes, kiddie pools, scooters and other outdoor items will be in high demand once the warmer weather hits, so pull them out now and make sure they are in good shape. This is also a good time to put winter toys and gear away in an attic, shed or other storage space, so that warm weather items are easily accessible. And, remember to check that helmets and other safety gear still fit.
We’ve pulled together our favorite tips and products to help you get rid of the toy clutter and create the organized garage of your dreams…it is possible!
(1) Create a designated space for your kid’s outdoor toys and equipment using pegboards, buckets and bins (via The Creativity Exchange).
(2) These open stacking baskets offer easy-access to your kid’s favorite summer items (and grab the free printable labels at Org Junkie).
(3) Simple wire shelves and brightly colored storage containers are functional and will brighten up any dingy garage (via iheartorganizing).
(4) Or opt for a free-standing shelving unit and large buckets – label them to make finding (and putting away) items a snap.
(5) Alternatively, try hanging large plastic rope-handled buckets directly on the wall like this garage makeover from Place Of My Taste. They even elevated the custom storage units to include the perfect spot to park ride-on toys!
(6) Install this amazing cable-lifted storage rack to free-up floor space by moving all your winter supplies up and out of the way.
(7) If you want to try your hand at a little DIY project, this genius rack can solve the scooter clutter once and for all (source unknown).
(8) This genius idea will help even the youngest kids keep the garage neat and tidy with designated parking thanks to some masking tape and matching signs (via Org Junkie).
(9) This Simple Bicycle Rack from Addicted 2 DIY will bring major improvements to your garage floor space – they’ve even worked in hooks for helmets!
But if that looks a little intimidating, you can always opt for this inexpensive Bike Rack from Amazon which can fit 5 bikes.
(10) Got avid skateboarders? Try this 3-board storage rack (which can also be used for scooters, skis and snowboards).
(11) A little plywood and some bungee cords and you’ve got an inventive solution to runaway sports balls.
(12) Or grab some of these awesome wire bins from Land of Nod to contain the equipment mess.
(13) Some of our favorite garage gear comes from neatfreak, including this Sport Utility Garage Rack (perfect for sticks, bats, rakes and rackets) and this 2-Tier Storage Bin.
PREPARING THE CREW
Self-care is a big topic right now and it is truly important. Take some time this summer to take care of yourself, even if you just get a few minutes in the evening after everyone is in bed. For instance, if you are going to be running around in water parks and playgrounds in your sandals most days, carve out 10-20 minutes in the evening for an Epson salt foot bath while listening to your favorite Pandora mix or reading a book or magazine. Little activities like this don’t require a babysitter, but still give you a much needed pampering moment.
Corral a group of parent friends and create rotating play dates with 3 or 4 kids. You will have to host once or twice a month depending on the size of the group, but on the other weeks you can drop off your kids and have a little free time all to yourself.
Don’t forget to have fun. Start new traditions or keep up the old ones, but either way make the most of the lazy days of summer and enjoy the time with your friends and family. Life moves too quickly these days so try to savor every last moment.
What do you do to get organized for summer? Share your best tips in the comments below.
Pssst – before you go, we’d love to have you join our What Moms Love community and we’ll hook you up with all of our exclusive resources including our popular 10 Screen-Free Toys For Guaranteed Quiet Time (this is seriously a game changer mamas!), Holiday/Birthday Coupon Book for Kids and 35 Food Subs & Swaps for Healthy Family Meals. Just let us know where to send all your goodies!
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These are such great ideas! You are one organized mama!
These are great tips!
Girl, this is SUPER impressive!! I want to be as organized as you!
Wow! Now that’s some organization! 😉
My word…so many good ideas!! Can I just hire you to come organize my life? 🙂
Oh my goodness, can you come organize my house please??? These are really great tips.
I could not love this post more! I recently made the switch to being a stay at home mom, and thus I am finding myself trying to scramble to organize my home before my 8 year old is out of school for the summer. I really love your tips for kiddos when they start with the “I’m Bored.” I am sure I will be revisiting this post all summer!
Oh man – and I thought I was organized! Love this post & so happy I found your blog, Aly! Lots of great content, keep it up!