13 Things I’m Doing to Prepare (My Kids & Myself) for Summer

Memorial Day.

It’s the day to remember our heroes.

It’s also the day that means summer is right around the corner.


I love summer.

What’s not to love? There’s unstructured freedom and fun activities, swimming and popsicles, family time. There’s boredom, mildewed towels, sticky floors and arguing siblings.

We have a busy summer since we are heading back to Africa in a few weeks (please pray for peace in Kenya right now), but I’ve discovered summer is better with a bit of preparation and planning.

bunting flags

Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. I’m unplugging alarms: My kids are tired. I’m tired. It’s been a long school year and we need rest (thankfully, none of my kids want to sleep all day). But it usually takes a good week to catch up and find our stride and we all can’t wait for this one.
  2. I’m creating a list of chores: I’m particularly excited about this one. We usually clean house, do laundry on the weekends, with work and school occupying so much of our weekday time. For summer, my kids will have a couple of daily chores starting at the beginning of the week to complete and then keep up with their laundry and rooms. I’m a firm believer in B (fun) doesn’t happen until A (work) is accomplished as a general rule. It’s a great motivator for kids.
  3. I’m sending one kid at a time away for a week. I’m signing my kids up for church camps at different times throughout the summer. Having one kid away changes the entire dynamic and it’s a great opportunity to spend time with kids at home.
  4. I’m adding service projects to our calendar: Every other Friday, my kids will be going with me to help with the refugees I work with an hour from our house. I’m looking forward to serving withe them and I know this regular dose of perspective will help keep our summer balanced.
  5. I’m buying a local family pool pass. Because Texas heat.
  6. I’m zip-locking the heck out of my pantry and fridge. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve cut and chopped and sorted healthy snack choices in an attempt to feed my family better. They love it and so do I. I think having snack-sized portions sorted out will keep us eating healthy during the summer.
  7. I’m researching summer reading lists-We are big readers, so it’s time pay off old library fines and get reacquainted with the library.
  8. I’m allowing screen time on equal parts reading time. We’ve done this the last several summers: if you read an hour, you can watch TV or have screen time for an hour. I’m more lax on screen time in the summer (school year I’m mommy dearest), but I still like to keep it balanced. Usually my kids will get into a great book and won’t be able to use all their screen time. And it doesn’t roll over.
  9. I’m changing the wifi and Netflix passwords  See #2
  10. I’m putting one child in charge of dinner one night every week, including making a shopping list and menu. I’m looking forward to trying this. I have a rotating helper in the kitchen every night, but I want them to not only learn the “how to’s” in the kitchen, but I think it will help with appreciating how much work goes into a family meal.
  11. I’m having my kids write a summer bucket list (so that when they cry boredom, they can create some fun).
  12. I’m getting up before my kids do to work 6:30-9am because it’s quiet and peaceful.
  13. I’m hiring help for Mercy House. This will be the 5th summer of trying to balance Mercy House and three kids home all day. Uncle.

What are your plans for summer?


  1. 1


    These are all great ideas, and I am SO ready for summer to begin. However, that is a luxury being denied me — I am an American military wife stationed in the UK, and schools here don’t get out UNTIL JULY 23! Their summer break is only one month long. My poor kids aren’t used to this schedule as it’s our first year here. Any suggestions?

    • 1.1

      jo says

      Hi Crystal, I’m not sure why your children are only getting a month. Most British schools have six weeks off and given the generally inclement weather of a UK summer, six weeks is quite enough!
      Most libraries have a six week reading programme/challenge which is enjoyed by many.
      I don’t know where you are based but there are so many day trips you can do by train or car. Most child friendly museums/places of interest offer extra fun activities for the holidays. The national trust membership is not too highly priced and has many fun places to go.
      My children’s favourite activity is a PGL family active holiday. If you wait until July they have done really good offers such as on adult gets two free children on seven day holidays in the UK and France. You all participate with other families in a program of abseiling, mountain biking, canoeing etc and is really good fun. If you want to send your children away they also have holidays just for children. I tak my five away with no hubbie and find it a very easy, cheap week!
      There’s a lot to be said for hiring a motorhome and touring Wales/Scotland/Devon, anywhere really, I do that with all mine too. I have a friend who rents one out reasonable if you’d like me to get you get details.
      ‘New wine’ is a great Christian gathering/camping holiday at shepton mallet, if that’s something you’d be interested in.
      Have fun planning,


    • 1.2

      Sandy says

      I was a military wife for 27 years, and was stationed overseas also. You can do most of same things in the 4 weeks, as well as the other weeks the schools have off that American schools don’t. Doing something different in their time off sets it apart and makes it special. I always did a “field trip” once/week.

  2. 2


    That sounds like a great plan. Little Boy doesn’t sleep in yet (he’s an early bird), so I’m in for VERY LONG summer days. I’m really looking into a way of structuring my days a bit.

  3. 3

    Heather S. says

    There is much to love about this. One thing I really noted and love – you are hiring help with Mercy House. That’s awesome. So many moms trying to balance work (non-profit or profit) and their kids during the summer and it’s usually the kids who suffer. I’m sure there are many who could easily help with Mercy House, but only YOU can be mom to your kids. And as you’ve stated multiple times, your kids really want more of you…nothing else. Summer out from school is a great time to give them this! Praying you have a blessed summer!

  4. 4

    Heidi says

    That sounds like a wonderful plan! I made a “chore list” for my kids, too. I printed off a paper that says “Chore List” with their names on it. I put the paper into a page protector. Each morning they’ll wake up to something I’ve written on the list in wet erase marker. It’s generally going to be one of their regular chores but they know that there will be no fun and no screen time until the list is completed.

    I love the dinner thing! My oldest is the same age as your youngest . . . how is she in the kitchen? I’ve been trying to incorporate my kids into food prep more often, but am not sure how (my kids are 7 & 5—turning 8 &6 later this summer)

    This will be my first summer working so I’m a bit nervous about that. In October I started working from home part time so I’m nervous about balancing being a WAHM with a “It’s summer vacation Mom”

    • 4.1


      Heidi it’s my first summer as a work (mostly) at home mom and I am trying to figure out how to balance it as well. It will be am adventure for sure. Good luck!

  5. 5


    I love your ideas, especially including your children in service projects. We helped with a summer food drive at our church last year, which we plan to do again this summer. My son has autism, so my summer prep list is heavy on planning to keep his days structured and to meet his sensory needs. Lots of camp planned, and a new swing got installed this weekend! Here is my whole summer prep list: http://www.chartnc.com/2013/05/summer-aheadthe-5-ss-to-make-it-great.html

  6. 6

    Melissa says

    I love your list! Will you be sharing your summer reading lists? I have a questions about screen time and reading time. Do you have a maximum amount of scree time allowed in a day regardless of how many hours are spent reading? I have two that are avid readers, but I can’t seem to swallow the idea of giving them three hours on the screens to match their reading time. There is more to life — playing outdoors, going to the pool, seeing friends, etc. Thank you!

  7. 7

    C Butler says

    These are fantastic ideas. I love the volunteering, unplugging alarms, bucket list, chores and reading vs screen time. I also want to encourage them to get outside and play with their friends. My younger son is involved in baseball, so most of his evenings are taken up. He will also attend two weeks of baseball camp. My older son is involved in cadets, and he will be away for 3 weeks on cadet training. We are in Canada, so summer for us starts at the end of June. It always goes way too quickly. My goals this summer are to balance activities/rest… we seem to be heavy on the activities. We have a pool in our back yard, so we will also host neighbourhood bbq’s and swimming get togethers. I also want to be very intentional about enjoying this time with my kids—they grow up way too fast.

  8. 9

    Jenn says

    I’ve been planning for our summer vacation from school also. Our days are a combination of structured and un-structured days. We do the same things every day….daily responsibilities, walking to get our mail, etc. and we also do things on a whim. We have a chalk board in our kitchen and I write our summer bucket list on that and then we cross things off as we do them. Some things are simple and free like hiking on local paths, playing down at a nearby creek, making a homemade tent for outside reading, making a home made water sprinkler, etc. Other things are bigger like going to a local amusement park, riding on a local paddle boat while eating ice cream, going to the Little League World Series parade, or taking a special trip. It’s fun to see the things on the chalk board getting crossed off.

    I do pre-packed (portion sized) snacks in our refrigerator also! I have a basket in our refrigerator full of them and we call it the “anytime snack basket”. Any time my kids are hungry, they can go right to the basket and grab a baggy for a snack. The only restriction is that if I am cooking, they are not allowed to grab a snack.

  9. 10


    Love this list! We are starting our summer now, and after a whirlwind weekend trip and last few weeks of school, today we will just be. This summer’s plan is to learn some new skills, wander in nature, find old covered bridges and learn some history, learn how to plan new games, etc. We are in the midst of our ‘revolution of dematerialization’ too and it is a whole family project so that is a major part of our summer.

    I love summer for the pace. This is the first year that I am not in an office everyday.
    I am so grateful!

  10. 11


    These are are super!! I’m going to pin this and refer to it often. I’ve got an almost 8 year old. Think she will be ready to handle the dinner idea?? I’m going for it! Thank you!

  11. 13


    Great ideas. I need help… Three kids, three different levels of reading enjoyment, three different ideas of what screen time should be. How do I avoid the tv being on 6 hours a day/fights over what show/it’s not fair etc. I’m stressed out by summer vacay already and they still have school for one more week! Ack

  12. 15

    Gabi M. says

    That is an awesome list, I love it! I really enjoy reading your articles. I don’t always comment, but I really appreciate the things you write :).

  13. 18

    Dana says

    love all these ideas. I am a bit nervous for summer. When all of you talk about snack sized “healthy” snacks- would love to see specifics. Besides fruit, veggies, yogurt and cheese… I am stuck on “healthy” snacks my kids actually want to eat???? Please list some good ideas :)

    • 18.1

      Diane says

      Check Pinterest for recipes like protein balls, homemade granola bars, etc. We just made 2 huge bowls of snack mix that has dried fruit, pretzel balls, pumpkin seeds, etc. Warning! This is not inexpensive to make but it is in a Tupperware fix ‘n mix bowl and I anticipate it will last about 10 days. It’s less expensive than prepackaged snacks and I know what is in it!

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