How to Design Your Summer

How to Design Your Summer

You guys know how I feel about planning. And I think sometimes it turns people off because they picture boring lined planners filled with bills and doctor’s appointments. I need to get smart like my spirit animal Gretchen Rubin and start calling it “designing.”

Last week in her podcast Happier, she talked about designing your summer. This was nothing new to me, of course, as I’m a plan freak and nearly always on her same wavelength. I would basically spend every down minute at school between Spring Break and the last day just daydreaming and designing my summer.

So many people think “Well, it’s summer. The whole point is to not have ANY plans. To just chill. Do what I want.” And yeah, that’s true. But if you don’t know what you want and don’t know what chill means to you, you won’t even get that.

Here’s why it’s important to design your summer: without a design, without a framework, without a plan, it can slip by in an instant. You know this. Maybe you’ve even done it. All of a sudden there are Back-to-School shopping ads everywhere and all you did was that family reunion you didn’t even want to go to. If you want a summer full of adventure and fun and family and outdoors and projects and sunshine? Well you need to design for precisely those things.

Get Your Mind Right

The very first thing you need to do is to think deeply about summer. Gretchen shared this quote and I loved it:

“Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year…My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer.”
— Robertson Davies, “Three Worlds, Three Summers,” The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies

I also thought a lot about the Idaho tourism ad after we discussed it at book club – “18 Summers.” You only get 18 summers with your kids, so how are you going to spend them?

Now, we aren’t just talking about summer in terms of pools and camping. Maybe you don’t want your summer to look anything like that, and that’s ok! Maybe your summer is a stack of books and lots of corn on the cob. Maybe your summer is finally dusting off your camera or starting a blog. Maybe your summer is getting out of the house more or visiting family  & friends. It really doesn’t matter – what matters is that YOU know what you want your summer to look like.

Take some time to think about great summers you’ve had before. Think about your family and what things are particularly fun (or could be fun!) for them right now. Fantasize about your dream summer day. Brainstorm some fun goals or ideas you could pursue to make this season special. Talk to friends and family about what they might like to do this summer.

Write it out. It doesn’t have to be a huge long list – maybe it’s just one thing. But you need to have a mindset for what you want your summer to be.

Look at Your Summer

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was a new teacher was to look at the entire school year, all laid out, and eliminate any holidays, assembly days, district testing days, etc. Suddenly instead of a school year of 180 days, I was looking at like 150 days. It had two effects:

  1. I felt more urgent about getting my curriculum in and covered.
  2. I felt a little calmer that there were still SO many days.

You need to do the same thing with your summer. Here we are at the first week of June and you’re thinking “3 whole months baby!!! So much summer!!! H.A.G.S.!!!!” When in reality we all know that it isn’t actually a whole three months, and it’ll go by in an instant.

So lay out your summer. Label vacations, family reunions, church camps, and holidays (I like Washi tape for these). Note the days with appointments, meetings, birthdays, or right before/after vacations, since these are days you’ll have lots to do. Now when you count up the remaining days? Suddenly summer feels a whole lot shorter, but also enough time to do what you want to do.

Break it Down

Now that you know just how much summer you actually have, you can start breaking down your summer list. A lot of people (myself included) like to make a summer bucket list. Things like going to an Owlz game, roasting s’mores, getting snocones, fireworks, pools/splash pads are perfect for your summer list. If you prefer to just have an itemized list of activities to accomplish, now you can start plotting them out. Don’t be afraid to actually make a plan! You may think “well, I bet I’ll resent having actual plans. Who knows what I might want to do that week in July? Better not schedule that Lagoon day…” Actually if it’s something you TRULY want to do this summer, you’ll be glad you set aside a day to do it, because that week in July will come and you might be tired or the house might be messy or your kids just want to go swimming and you’ll never actually go to Lagoon. Instead, you planned it. So you benefit from the anticipation and then reap the fun memories!

If you want to go camping – plan it now. Don’t say “oh we’ll figure it out one weekend.” You won’t. You know you won’t. Pick the best possible time you can and book it.

What if your summer plan is more of an idea? One friend told me she wants to read more. This could be your summer of finishing your yard. A lot of my mom friends say they just want to get out of the house with their kids and “do things.” That’s great! General ideas or goals can still work. You just have to break them down. I’ve found this works best to start with some kind of final accountability, then work backward into monthly/weekly/daily tasks.

For Example: Losing Weight/Training.

Final Goal – By the time school starts (REESE WILL START PRESCHOOL OMG), I want to have gotten back to my pre-pregnancy weight, last through a whole Zumba class with full effort, and be comfortable with HIGH Fitness.

Monthly – In June I’m attending my first HIGH class, attending Zumba 1x a week, and renewing my low carb diet. In July, I’ll attend Zumba 2x a week, HIGH 1x a week, and limit fast food. In August, I’ll be staying through all of those classes without breaks (even if I’m barely moving lol), and getting strict on my diet to hit my weight goal. I have a rough weight goal for the end of each month, but obviously that’s not something set in stone since weight loss can fluctuate for me. I will have a doctor’s appointment each month to monitor my thyroid and medications which have been messed up to be sure I’m healthy and on track.

Weekly – I stuck a post-it note with my weekly exercise goals on each week of the summer (1x Zumba, 2x Zumba, etc) as well as writing in my weekly Monday morning weigh-in. As I approach each week I’ll schedule my classes and meals. I also have a goal to swim/splash pad every week like I did last summer, and getting in a swimsuit every week also helps lol.

I will be doing a Facebook Live this afternoon to show you guys some planning pages I’ve used to design my summer – if you like my page Danica Plans you’ll be able to see it. 🙂

Find some way to start plugging things in. As much as you can – avoid pencil. Live your summer in bold – use ink. Write down the things you want to do each week or on certain days and then DO THEM.

Get Help

I guarantee you that you have friends and family out there who also want to make the most of their summer. If your goal is to swim a bunch with your kids, round up a group of friends and set a weekly pool/splash pad date. If you want to cook more, invite a couple over every Tuesday night and make a new dish. Get a personal trainer. Join a book club. Plan a hiking date with your next door neighbor. Just this week a lady posted in our neighborhood Facebook page asking for free splash pad recommendations. I thought I had a good list but I found a few more that I added to our list to try this summer!

The mall has a bunch of activities, and so does your local library. Look up when each city has their carnival and check out what they have to offer. There is always something to do, something to try. You never have to sit on the couch (with monkeys bouncing next to you if you have kids) wondering “What should we do today? Watch Frozen again?”

It’s YOUR Summer

Grab it by the horns. Heading into it with no plan, no design, is the quickest way to lose it (or leave you wanting to donate your children to D.I. because they’re driving you crazy). Take that day trip. Plan that barbecue. Read that series. Decide now the type of summer you’re going to have, and then go have it. It’s here, folks! See you at the splash pad!!! My kid’s the one crying because I won’t let her take her goldfish in.

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