Making the Most of Summer

by | Jul 31, 2019

Don’t let the summer season slip away! One family meeting around the dinner table is all you need to capture tons of great ideas.

Connect Through Fun

Summer is open to a seemingly endless supply of time that can be filled with activities you can do with your children. With children nearing adolescence, summer is a prime time to connect and continue to solidify your bonds before they become teenagers and start to do more things outside of the family unit. One of the best ways to do this is through fun.

But summer is quickly passing by—it’s halfway over for my girls and we haven’t done half of the things I was thinking we would this summer. My big mistake was thinking things would just sort of fall into place and happen. They didn’t. So, how do you fit these activities in, especially if you still have to work, even though the kids are off from school?

My big mistake was thinking things would just sort of fall into place and happen.
They didn’t.

Well, I started thinking about my summers. Growing up, my dad would always have us sit down at the start of summer as a family with a huge summer calendar he had made on butcher paper (before white boards were a thing) and list all of the things we each wanted to do. Then we’d go through and choose activities from this list as a family.

The chosen activities would be added to our summer calendar that already had his work schedule blocked off. As a kid, although I didn’t always enjoy the process, I did enjoy helping to decide what the family would do and then knowing exactly what and when we were going to do it. I was able to start my summer looking forward to all of the family activities.

Have a Family Meeting

Now that I’m a parent, I understand the pure genius of this process. Sitting down with the family to plan out activities allows each member to be heard. It allows my girls to have a part in the decisions and to understand everything that goes into fitting all of our schedules and wants into one cohesive family plan.

To make sure we make the most of the remaining part of summer, my husband and I recently decided to carve out time for at least one family day a week. We then had a family meeting over dinner to discuss all of this and to find out what everyone wanted to do.

We were eating, so I didn’t make a huge summer calendar beforehand or bust out a big white board. I could see our family calendar from where we were sitting, though, so we were able to figure out which days would be our family days for the next few weeks and what exactly we would do on them.

We even came up with other ideas in case we find we have some unexpected time we can turn into a family day, last minute. Some of these ideas came from my girls, but others came from remembering what I enjoyed doing during my summers as a kid.

The Family Calendar

We used the family calendar to figure out which days would be our family days.

By sharing the favorite parts of my childhood summers, I’m able to make the connection during our family days even stronger. My children are not only having fun but also learning about my past. They get a glimpse of my childhood as we create a new shared memory as a family.

Family Leadership Tip:

Make sure you are clear that you are discussing family days and not just what each individual wants to do on their own. If your family comes up with all kinds of ideas they would like to do individually, then try making a separate space for writing down their personal to-do list and then get back to family planning, while letting them know their individual days can be looked at later. Just make sure you follow up on this.


  1. Spend some time thinking of your favorite summer activities:
  • Did your family do the same activity every summer? Was each summer different?
  • Were there activities you looked forward to all year? Were there ones that you dreaded?

Share the positive and negative with your children. Both of my girls, now seven and eleven, love to hear about the things I did before they were born, especially the things I did when I was their age. 

2. Create a list of things you would like to do with your kids that you enjoyed doing as a kid. Then, ask your kids what things they want to do.

Get out your calendar that already has all of your family’s day-to-day schedules and see what free time you have. Depending on how much free time there is, decide on the number of activities you’ll be able to add in and decide how the activities will be chosen.

  • Will each family member get to choose a certain amount?
  • Does each activity need to be agreed upon by the whole family or a majority vote?

Then find a spot on your calendar to fit in these activities. 

3. If you have extra activities:

Write them on separate slips of paper and put them in a jar. (You can even decorate it to add a personal touch or have it match your décor.) When unexpected free time pops up, either this summer or later, you’ll already have family-approved activities you can pull from. Then, have fun!

Family Fun Day Resevoir

Whenever you have unexpected free time on your hands, a jar of pre-approved family activities is a perfect way to take advantage of the time together without having to plan ahead.

Useful Materials

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Carolyn Savage

Carolyn is a professional writer, proofreader, and editor. She has a background in wildlife management but pivoted to writing and editing when she became a mother. In her "free time" she is a 3rd Dan (degree) Kukkiwon certified black belt in Taekwondo, loves learning to craft from her enormously talented children, and then teaching what she's learned to her enormously talented grandmother. Read full bio >>

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