This post is by Sarah Powers, Happiest Home contributor and Managing Editor, and blogger at Powers of Mine.
Last summer was anything but organized in our house. I had a still-relatively-new baby and a laughably unpredictable schedule. I wasn’t sleeping at all. I was working two editing jobs, from home, without childcare or school. Outings, adventures, and clever crafts at home seemed so far beyond my capabilities as a sleep-deprived mom of three kids five-and-under that I didn’t even bother trying.
And you know what? It turned out okay. We managed. But this year I find myself hoping for more structure and more adventures, more fun stuff for the kids and more protected time for my own work and passions, and I feel like I have the head space to be a little more intentional about it all.
So with (as my kindergartener informed me today) 12 school days left for us, here are some ways I’m laying the groundwork for a more organized summer.
Making friends with the calendar
I’m great with the minutiae of a daily schedule and a weekly calendar, but I often forget to look ahead more than a week or two. So in the next few days I’ll be printing out a hard copy of our calendar from June through August, blocking out the two trips we have planned, and getting a general feel for the rest of the summer. I won’t necessarily aim to fill up the calendar just yet (or at all), but I would like to have a picture of how the summer will look.
Updating my books-to-read list
For some reason I read more in the summertime, and it’s been a while since I visited my GoodReads to-read list and browsed their recommendations for ideas. I know that if I don’t have a book lined up – either in hard copy on my nightstand or ready to be loaded up on my iPad – I just fall out of the habit of reading altogether, so I’d like to get a good list going of 6-8 books to get me through the summer.
(Recommendations? Leave ’em in the comments! I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately, but would love some great novels for the summer!)
Getting some recipe inspiration
This spring our dinners slipped into a sad state of affairs (as in, more cop-out dinners than non-cop-out dinners). My husband’s travel schedule, late-afternoon swim lessons twice a week, and my own busy-ness with Meagan’s recent book launch all contributed to a disproportionate number of quesadillas. Without the school commute and lunch-packing during the summer break, I’m hoping to use my mornings to get a head start on dinner, whether it’s marinating a protein or starting something in the slow-cooker. To get inspired, I’m looking at Pinterest (of course) and dusting off a few cookbooks as well.
Purging the toys & organizing the wardrobes
It’s time for a toy purge around here – big time. We spend most of our time indoors in the summer in Arizona (think January in Michigan), so I want our playroom and all the toy bins ready for three stir-crazy kiddos. My older two have birthdays around this time of year, so there are new games, crafts, and puzzles to put away, and a bunch of baby toys my no-longer-baby (sniff!) has outgrown.
I’m also itching to overhaul our closets a bit as we move into the summer months. Jeans are a thing of the past until November, school uniforms need to be burned the moment school lets out, and swim suits will see almost daily use pretty soon. I don’t have quite the system that Meagan does – yet – but I will definitely be switching out a few drawers and making room for bigger sizes in the next few weeks.
Tackling a few small home-repair projects
Like I said, we hunker down indoors in the summer – the opposite of many of you, I know. As a result, I really like the house to be in good shape and we often take on small indoor home projects while we’re cooped up escaping the heat. For this piece of the summer-prep I’ll be making a honey-do list and enlisting my husband to help get the house spiffed up – just enough so that we enjoy spending time in it during our long, hot hibernation.
Researching local things to do
One of the things I struggled with last summer was wanting to do fun excursions with the kids and yet never feeling like I knew exactly where, or when, to go (see also: sleep deprivation). This year I’d like to get on top of things by making a list of our local children’s museums, libraries, indoor play areas, etc., and doing a little research on pricing, memberships, and hours of operation. I think if I have it all in one place it’ll be easier to plan our visits.
Keeping an eye on nearby getaway & staycation deals
We have two big trips planned for the first half of the summer, and then … nada. While time and money will require that we stay close to home after mid-July, I’m keeping an eye on deals at local resorts and nearby weekend destinations. We may or may not do a weekend getaway or staycation, but I’d like to stay on top of the possibilities just in case the mood strikes us.
Brushing up on my photography
I’ve been shooting in manual on my DSLR for the last year or so, and summer is a great time to practice photography (water! fireworks! vacations!). There’s a self-paced online course I got as a gift when I first got my camera and I never quite finished it, so I’ll be diving back into those videos and challenging myself to use the camera as often as possible this summer. I notice that just a little bit of nurturing of my own creative hobbies can really counteract some of the pull-my-hair-out moments that spending long days cooped up inevitably brings.