This post was sponsored by Blueprint4SummerCO. All opinions are my own.
We just returned from Spring Break, and I’m already looking forward to summer.
Honestly, sometimes I think I get as excited about summer vacation as the kids do. I love the warmer days. I love the looser bedtimes when everyone migrates outside after dinner to play til it gets dark or make s’mores around the fire pit. I love the vacation days when we wake up and decide what we feel like doing that day…and just go do it.
But I’ve noticed over the years that summers are smoother when I put some planning into them. If I start thinking now about what we want our summer to look like, we’re more likely to do the things on our list. And if I don’t plan at least somewhat, then everyone stays inside glued to screens much more than I’d like them to. It’s not hard to plan for summer, but there are a few key things that help.
5 Ways to Prep for Summer
1.) Figure out a budget
There are many different ways to budget for the summer. You could give yourself a weekly or monthly budget and pick activities that line up with it. You could calculate where you want to go this summer (the zoo? museums? trips?) and calculate what each activity would cost. We like to have a mix of free and paid activities – the great thing about Colorado is that there are tons of beautiful parks and trails and places to go that don’t cost a thing so we mix that up with some fun outings that cost.
When you do budget, don’t forget about treats like ice cream stops after a hike or an afternoon at a bookstore (where you know you’ll come home with some new goodies!)
This goes hand-in-hand with figuring out your budget, and it’s one of the reasons I really appreciate the Blueprint4SummerCO website. It’s a free, mobile-friendly website that allows parents of children 3-18 to search the thousands of summer classes, camps, and activities available to kids in Denver, Boulder, and Aurora. You can filter your search in a number of ways, including by cost (so you can stick to your budget!), by age, by date, or by the special interests your children have. There are also targeted searches for children with special needs and gifted children, as well as searches for camps offering scholarships.
The variety of interests covered by the activities is amazing – there are camps offered by places like the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (confession: I really want to go to that one myself). There are camps at popular sites like the Downtown Aquarium. And there are camps for kids interested in art or music or sports or science or nature or so many more topics. Blueprint4SummerCO is a well-organized way to find an activity for your child this summer.
3.) Get your car ready
We have a stash of 10 items we keep in the car for the summer. I store them in a cute beach bag, but you can use anything – a milk crate, an old cardboard box, whatever. These things just sit in the car for the summer, and they come in handy if we take an impromptu trip to a creek, or stop at the park, or want to go on a drive. I’ve needed them more times than I can count, and if I had to remember to pack them in the car every time we left, I’d forget things.
So usually right around the day school gets out for the summer, I take half an hour, corral all the stuff, and pack it in the trunk. You’ll feel like a super-scout the first time you need that toilet paper, I promise.
4.) Get names and cell numbers for friends’ parents
We’ve had a few summers where the kids wanted to invite a friend over from school and I had no way of finding them. Make sure you have contact information for any special buddies your children have made during the year so they can meet up during the summer months.
5.) Talk to the kids and prioritize
Every time we go somewhere special – the Denver Zoo, Disneyland, to Grandma and Grandpa’s cabin – we have each kid pick their One Thing. The One Thing that they want to do there more than anything else. With four kids, we can’t do every single attraction at places like Disneyland. We can’t always see every animal at the zoo. But we will move heaven and earth to make sure we do the One Thing they each want to do most. We can’t do all the things, but we can do four things.
Talk the summer over ahead of time – it’s not too early to start now. That way the kids can develop realistic expectations, and they can talk to you about the summer camps or activities they want to do most. You can decide together if that’s possible or find alternatives they’re happy with.
Do you have any tips you follow now to help you get ready for summer? I’d love to hear them!
Road Trip Journal
Sign up here to get the road trip journal and other helpful tips for traveling with kids!