Has the panic/pandemonium set in, in your neighborhood, yet

There are less than three weeks left until summer vacation, aka “mommy overtime season.” Are you prepared?

Have you made your summer bucket list? Are your kids all signed up for sports camps and travel teams? Did you stock up on all the local summer activities offered on Groupon? As well as all the summer activity staples like bubbles, water balloons, plastic kiddie pools, Nerf guns…

Yea, me neither. And I’m not going to, either.

“But, Renata,” you groan, “that doesn’t sound like a very FUN summer vacation. Are you suggesting that we plan NOTHING to do all summer? That we just let our kids roam aimlessly around the house and neighborhood all summer long? That sounds way worse than overscheduling every minute of the summer.”

Of course not.

But you should choose your activities wisely and then give your children lots of space to wander (somewhat) aimlessly around your house and neighborhood and figure out something to do for themselves.

Make the bucket list, sign up for the activities, do SOME of the things. Just be mindful of the fact that you don’t HAVE TO do any of it.

Let that sink in. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF IT.

You most definitely should not plan every minute of your summer. And remember that it’s YOUR summer too.

I’m taking a new approach to planning our summer activities and focusing less on how many things we can cram into two months and more on how I/we want to FEEL this summer.

So, instead of filling our bucket list with things we want to do and places we want to go, I’m trying to identify the ways we want to FEEL and then identifying activities that will give us that feeling.

This is a great conversation to have with your kiddos, even the little ones (who are capable of this sort of communication, obviously). How do they want to feel this summer and what kinds of activities would give them those feelings.

So, what does the start of my list look like?

Feeling: I want to feel connected as a family.

ACTIVITIES that will help me achieve that feeling: playing games together, building something, exploring museums and other places in our area, cooking or baking, visiting with grandparents and family, date nights with each of the kids.

Feeling: I want to feel relaxed.

ACTIVITIES that will help me achieve that feeling: reading books together on the couch, independent reading time, minimal morning rushing, slower paced days, less rushing around, independent play time for the kids outside.

Feeling: I want to feel refreshed.

ACTIVITIES that will help me achieve that feeling: lots of time outside, swimming at the pool, playing at the beach, hiking, sending the kids to their grandparents one weekend a month.

See how this works? So as you start the day, think about “how do I want to feel today and what is going to get me to that feeling?

Also, I promise you that a lot of days, my activity-of-choice will be to send my children outside to play for as long as possible.

So rethink your summer vacation bucket list a little bit. Your late-August-self will thank you for it.


Renata Musial

Renata is the founder and creator of Renewing Mom, an online community and series of in-person experiences that help moms stay connected to who they are as women and individuals. A recovering attorney, Renata lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three young kids.

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