Planning is the Key to Great Family Fun!

Even though it’s still cold and rainy outside it’s the perfect time to make sure we take full advantage of the coming summer.  The reality of life today is that each day is busy from the moment our feet hit the floor.  All too often, the weekend comes around with no structured plans other than to "relax”; which usually translates to "just hanging around the house and watching a little TV”.  I’d much rather have quality time with my kids and husband actually getting out and doing something fun.  The key to getting these great weekends is planning.  Uggh…planning, I know.  We’d all love to be the spontaneous, creative, super mom types, but it doesn’t happen without a little planning.  It‘s pretty painless all in all and I’ll walk you through the whole thing.  C’mon!

PlanningFirst, you’re going to need a calendar.  I’m hoping you already have some sort of family calendar that’s hanging in a high traffic area.  Take your calendar and start flipping through the months and jotting in all the things you already know are coming up.  These will most likely be the big things like weddings, scout camp, girl’s camp, family reunions, holiday plans like the 4th of July, etc.  Go clear through to the end of the year.  

Next you need to decide how busy you want to be.  Personally, my goal is to have two family outings a month.  One is usually an overnight camping or road trip type activity and the other is usually something we do locally and only lasts a few hours.  That leaves me the remaining weekends of the month for projects around the house, yard work, and time "to relax” (see definition above).  

Once you’ve got an idea of how busy you already are and how many open weekends you’ve got you can start looking for ideas of fun places to go and things to do (my favorite part.) 

Camping, HikingCamping - I’m a huge fan of camping so I always start there and I always go to  It’s the place to make reservations for just about every campground, forest service cabin, and day use facility in the United States.  I’m always amazed, and I’m betting you will be to, by how many places near where I live there are to explore.  I could fill a lifetime of summers just checking out the different places within 4 hours of my house.   

Day Hikes with a picnic - Day hikes with a picnic are a fantastic way to pass the day with kids.  I’d also recommend going to your public library and seeing if you can find some day hiking and camping guidebooks for where you live.  You can also find these at your local bookstores or outdoor stores such as REI.  Skim through what you find and consider purchasing one.  We like to make notes in the margins of our books about our experiences and whether we’d like to visit each location again.  

Local Tourist Attractions and Events – I confess that I lived in Louisville, KY for five years and never attended the Kentucky Derby.  It’s tragic, I know, but learn from my experience and make time to attend the events your area is famous for and the attractions tourists see when they come visit your town.  If you want a quick way to find some just go into any hotel lobby in your town and look for the attraction brochure rack.  It’s usually full of fliers for historic home tours, amusement parks, water parks, museums, etc.  

Plays, Concerts, and Sporting Events –Look for fun events like a Shakespeare Festival, a ballet group, a symphony, university or high school sporting events, and plays. 

Service in your communityPlan a volunteer opportunity – Contact your local Habitat for Humanity and see if your family can help out on an upcoming project, call the Ronald McDonald House and offer to cook a meal for the residents, see if the Humane Society needs someone to walk dogs one Saturday afternoon, go sort food donations at the food bank, pick up trash at a local park followed by a picnic.  There’s a ton of ways your family can have fun together and lend a hand to others, and chances are if you don’t plan to do them you’ll never get around to doing them.  

Sledding In SummerRemember to take into account the seasons.  Remember when you plan campouts some places will have snow on the ground into mid June.  If you know that you’ll probably want to take your family to the pumpkin patch in October schedule it on the calendar now.   I always look up online when the Perseid meteor shower peaks and I make sure we’re camping that weekend so we get to see the show without city lights interfering (it’s amazing!)  

The list of could go on for pages of great ways to spend a weekend with your family, but the key is that by putting them on the calendar and planning them you’ll get right up on Saturday and launch out on your adventure instead of wasting half the day deciding what to do.  Plus, by having a few things planned in advance you can invite other families to go with you and make the weekend even more fun.  So decide now that this year is going to be your best yet and by doing a little planning now it will be.  

For more information on ways to get the family out the door and pulling off your adventures without stressing out check out Mary Ann’s class and course manual for Stress Free Family Fun.

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Tags: Summer  Planning  Calendaring  Fun 

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