Hey homeschoolers! We are already well into July, and if you’re like me, you feel like summer is slipping away. Fortunately, we can still make the most of it. I’ll explain how.
Create a Summer Bucket List
The first step is to create a summer bucket list. No, it’s not too late. Print this form from The Organized Homeschool Life Planner. What will you put on this bucket list? You will add your most important summer activities to engage in, people to see, and goals to accomplish.
To complete your bucket list, you’ll need to have a family discussion. Let’s start with activities. What things do you want to still do to make it a satisfying summer? Activities that have been high on my various family member’s lists over the years are: camping, fishing, swimming, playing tennis, catching fireflies, watching a movie outside, going to a baseball game, having big parties, kayaking, going to a theme park, lighting fireworks. I could go on, but I hope that’s enough to get you thinking.
Next, consider the people you want to spend time with this summer. Our list includes family, neighbors, and friends we don’t see often during the school year. We always invite the neighbors over for a barbecue. We attend or host my sister-in-law’s ministry gathering. Friends from out of state typically visit. This year in particular, you may have a long list of people you’d like to spend time with.
Finally, consider your goals for your bucket list. What are you really hoping to accomplish this summer? You might want to get all your curriculum planned and your school space organized. You may want to declutter a storage space or get a month’s worth of meals in the freezer. These are some summer goals I’ve had over the years. If you don’t have any summer goals, you might consider the challenges in The Organized Homeschool Life that will help you get organized one week at a time.
Once you have your bucket list of activities, people, and goals completed, consider ways to combine them. Ask important people to engage in the activities you love with you. We used to have a jet ski and loved taking it out every summer. We frequently invited people to join us, so we could spend time with them. If you have a goal of planning, decluttering, or freezer cooking, ask a friend or family member to join you! The accountability and fun will make your goal that much easier to accomplish.
Establish a Routine
The second step to making the most of summer is establishing or tweaking a routine. You can and should put some of your activities and social events on your calendar. But we can all benefit from more structure. We tend to let routines slide in the summer. I know I’m not the only one who does this. We may have different bedtimes. We may not be insisting on chores being completed. We may be a lot more spontaneous with our days. None of these things is a bad thing. However, if we want to be making the most of our time, we need a loose routine that allows us to accomplish that goal.
If you are going to stay up later than you do during the school year, create a late morning routine. Make sure that you are not doing all of the housework. Discuss a new chore routine for summer with your family. This is a good time to discuss screen time as well. What expectations do you have of your children before they can have screen time? How much structure you impose is up to you, and it can certainly be less in the summer, but don’t abandon it altogether.
Specifically, decide how your routine can support you in engaging in the activities, social events, and goal-oriented tasks you added to your bucket list. One strategy is to establish a summer weekly routine. For example, Fridays may be a day you decide to plan fun, out-of-the-house activities. If you don’t include people in those activities, you might plan Saturday as your socializing day. You could choose another day of the week as your work day. That is when you will work on your freezer cooking or lesson planning. Yet another day could be devoted to decluttering.
An alternate approach would be to allot a little bit of time to each of these areas every day. So you could have an hour for doing work tasks, an hour to work on curriculum planning, and an hour to work on decluttering, leaving the afternoon and evening for activities and socializing. The Organized Homeschool Life book can help you develop workable routines for the school year, too.
Ask God to Direct Your Summer
A final, critical way to make the most of your summer is to ask God to guide and direct the coming weeks. The summer I was in the unusual position of having no plans or goals, I asked my Bible study group to pray for clarity and wisdom. That night I awoke and knew I was to write my first book, So You’re Not Wonder Woman. Despite a number of previous attempts to write, I completed the book that summer and it felt relatively effortless.
God knows where we need to direct our time. We can have peace and contentment as we trust that any disruptions to our plans are from Him. I shared before about how a flooded basement led to our praying over our plumber who was to begin chemotherapy for cancer that week. God doesn’t show us the purpose of interruptions every time, but He does so enough to lead us to trust and obey.
Each day, ask God to give you his diligence and his joy as you go through your day. Trust that each interruption is from him and will be used for your good and his glory.
One last thing. If I could do my homeschool summers over, especially those in the beginning, I would relax a lot more. I remember one summer I was so stressed about getting all my kids’ lessons entered into a new digital lesson planner. I begged my husband to take the kids out of the house. I was shocked by how long it took. The kids were home in a flash and I still had what seemed like weeks of work to do. What was even worse was my experience of using the planner. My kids were confused and needed me to verify every single assignment on the system. Of course, we didn’t get things done as planned, which required me to update the lessons for each student.
I ended up using a super simple customized student planner. But I look back on that day and realize that I could have had my husband take the kids out while I read a novel in my lounge chair! I truly believe that the Lord wants to bless us with relaxed days like this, but we do so many unnecessary tasks.
Looking back, I do not derive any joy from thinking about my lesson plans, my organized homeschool space, or my full freezer. But I do delight in memories of kids splashing in the pool, playing badminton in the front yard, and catching fireflies. These are the things your children will remember. These are the things that God wants you to accomplish in your summer. Take your list and present it to him and really listen to what he has to say. Add the things he tells you to add and cross off the things he says you don’t need to do.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer. If you want to make the most of the rest of it, I hope you will make a list of the activities, the people, and the goals that matter to you. Then I hope you will adjust or create a routine to make them happen. And finally, I hope you will present the list to God, listening for His reponse. I hope in His kindness, He surprises you by telling you to take a day off to kick your feet up and read a great book, or whatever it is that brings you joy.