Five Steps to a Fabulous Summer Plan

Ah summer. Swimming pools, ice cream, and hours free to get bored do what you want. I loved summer because our days are more relaxed. I love a break from the structured school time and the feeling of needing to get a litany of school work accomplished each day.

But if I am not careful our summers turn into a marathon of cartoons, video games, and YouTube (Does anyone else’s kids like to look up their current passion on YouTube and watch all the videos?)

This summer I have decided to try and stop those activities before they even begin. We are taking about eight weeks off our homeschool for summer and for three of those weeks the kids will be involved in programs that take up at least half of their days. The other weeks I am on my own. So here are my five simple steps for a fabulous summer.

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1. Make the Plan

Nothing fabulous happens without a plan. I simply sat down one Sunday morning with my coffee and pen and let the thoughts flow onto a note pad. I snapped a photo and put it on social media, and within a few hours I had multiple requests for my lists.

I am sharing my specific lists on this post, but I am also giving you blank printables so you can write your own as well. I don’t know about you, but I can never use anyone else’s lists! And thank you for asking for the post — I never would have made them nearly as cute if you had not.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids ListsPin

Below is a slide show of my list scans so you can see them up close. They are:

    • Summer Rules – A list of family rules for summer days.
    • Daily Schedule – This has times on it, but is pretty flexible.  The biggest hard stop is no screens until [3:15] and all chores and the “[3:00] Tidy” (and afternoon straighten session) must be done before screens start.
    • I’m Bored List – What to do if you are bored each day.
    • Daily Chores – The things that must be done before morning snack. My kids have to clean rooms and brush teeth as well as choose two other chores from the list. First up gets first choice.
    • Weekly Chores – The things that are done each day one time a week. These are assigned to particular kids and do not have to be done first thing in the morning but must be completed before screen time each day.
    • Daily To-Do – We are continuing our math curriculum until it is finished. They each have just a few more lessons. Math fact practice, piano practice, and some review games will continue in the summer. All of this must be done before screen time.

2. Put Everything In Its Place

A good summer plan needs a place to live. Now my lists are going on the side of the fridge so everyone can see them, but for all of the schedules, brochures, and event registrations I give you the Summer Fun Binder. This is also a great place to store packing lists for camp, movie and event schedules, summer reading program materials — everything you will need for a great time this summer.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids BinderPin

See the original Summer Fun Binder Post  for more details. When I was putting in the new printables for this summer it was fun to pull out all of the old memories from last summer and remember all the fun we had.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids CalendarPin

Get Your Plan Your Summer Planning Kit

Here’s your chance to get your very own planning download for summer. You will get all the blank lists and the Summer Fun Binder printables with cute art by My Clipart Store. The pack includes calendars for June, July and August, two binder covers, chore lists, rules list, schedule list, I’m Bored list, and a blank list for whatever you need!

3. Hold a Family Meeting

Get everyone involved by calling a family meeting to explain all the new expectations. Lay everything out for the kids so they know exactly what to expect and be sure to  answer any questions that they have about the process. Let me warn you they will ask every question they can think of to already start trying to weasel around the rules. Just answer them all with a patient smile.

This is especially helpful for the non-readers of the family who can’t read all your beautiful refrigerator lists. Summer is a great time to work on habit training and extra chores.

4. Make a Summer “I’m Bored” Box

Help set the kids up for success by going out of your way to help them find things to do. After our big family meeting we all got dressed and headed to the craft and dollar stores. There we stocked up on some new coloring books, small games, and craft kits to help keep everyone busy this summer.

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Busy BoxPin

I came home, emptied out a big basket, and filled it with the new items and some old ones that they haven’t played with in a while. I plan on refreshing the “I’m Bored Box” every weekend this summer by straightening and replacing some items with new ones. There is also a similar list on the fridge that has more ideas. Here are some fun things for your box:

Rainbow Loom Crafting Kit includes Loom, Metal Hook, Mini Rainbow Loom, 600 Rubber Bands + 24 ClipsPinRainbow Loom Crafting Kit includes Loom, Metal Hook, Mini Rainbow Loom, 600 Rubber Bands + 24 ClipsPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPet Parade Value Gift BoxPinPet Parade Value Gift BoxPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinMelissa & Doug Wooden Stamp Set, Favorite Things - 26 Wooden Stamps, 4-Color Stamp PadPinMelissa & Doug Wooden Stamp Set, Favorite Things – 26 Wooden Stamps, 4-Color Stamp PadPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPerplexus Original - Interactive Maze Game with 100 ChallengesPinPerplexus Original – Interactive Maze Game with 100 ChallengesPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinAshley Productions ASH10700 Hardcover Blank Book, 6PinAshley Productions ASH10700 Hardcover Blank Book, 6PinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinTimeline: American History GamePinTimeline: American History GamePinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinMagnetic Poetry - Kids Story Maker Kit - Ages 5 and Up - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on the Fridge - Made in the USAPinMagnetic Poetry – Kids Story Maker Kit – Ages 5 and Up – Words for Refrigerator – Write Poems and Letters on the Fridge – Made in the USAPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinCat's Cradle Book Kit-PinCat’s Cradle Book Kit-PinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinThe Dangerous Book for BoysPinThe Dangerous Book for BoysPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinThe Daring Book for GirlsPinThe Daring Book for GirlsPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinRory's Story Cube Complete Set - Original - Actions - VoyagesPinRory’s Story Cube Complete Set – Original – Actions – VoyagesPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPinPin

Get Organized for Summer with Kids Busy Box ClosePin

5. Train the Plan

Day one was pretty ugly in the morning. The youngest lost his tablet privileges before [7:00] AM. Math was so much harder because it was the only academic subject we were doing. Everyone was grumpy and fought and complained about chores. Ugh. But I stuck to my plan and made it through day one. I tried to keep in mind that the first week will be the hardest.

Day two was a bit easier. Both boys stayed in their room quietly until 7 without being told and math went much faster. I expect things to improve as the week goes on.

They have to know that you mean business. They will be bored and listless the first week — wandering and fussing instead of finding something to do. Eventually, with a bit of leaving them to their own devices, they will get the idea that in order to have any fun they need to make fun. It always gets easier after the first week.

Chore and habit training also takes time and effort on Mom’s part. If I don’t go and check up on chores, then nothing will get done right. I take the time in summer, while I feel like I have more time, to work extra hard in training things to be done right. Yes, it is a pain, but it does pay off.

Enjoy your summer!


  • Charla says:

    Do you do Morning Time in the summer??

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Not really. I thought about it this year, but instead put a read aloud time right after lunch. I wouldn’t be doing math if we were through with that curriculum — but I don’t want to break where we are and have to regroup (no pun intended) later. We take such a short time off for the summer I like it to be as much “break” as possible.

  • Carrie says:

    This is EXACTLY what I’ve been scouring the Internet for for the past 5 days – both the printables and your examples. Thank you!

  • Jeni G says:

    We are moving this summer, so we will be taking the whole summer off instead of “light” schooling as we usually do. This kit will really help to keep some order in the house even during or crazy moving and settling in time. Thanks so much!

  • Amanda says:

    This is wonderful! Printed everything off and am working on them right now. I did notice that the August calendar does not start of on the correct day of the week. Regardless, what a great resource! 🙂

  • Christine Weaver says:

    Was working on my schedule love it BTW! But August does not seem to be 2015’s calendar 🙂

  • Leslie says:

    This is FANTASTIC!! Thanks for the printables and great ideas! I’m with you, I can never use someone else’s preprinted lists 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you! This is just perfect! NOT too complicated that I won’t follow through. Just enough to keep organized!

  • Had to smile at one particular magnet holding those papers up. 🙂

  • Edwena says:

    Not sure why but this is the 2nd or 3rd time I’ve tried to get your wonderful printables and they never come to my email 🙁 Can you help somehow?

    • Edwena says:

      Never mind….it finally worked 🙂

  • Irene Jones says:

    Oh I finally found these again!!! Wonderful. Printing right nowwwww

  • Katie Bennett says:

    These are brilliant! Thank you for offering them to us. Is there a trick to receiving the download? I’ve tried a couple of times with no luck. Thanks again!

    • Katie Bennett says:

      Nevermind – I figured it out. Thanks!!!!

  • Dachelle says:

    We used this over the summer and it worked really well. My kids are asking me for a “School Year Rules” poster. They really liked being able to see the summer rules written out for them. Do you have a printable that doesn’t say summer?
    BTW, I’ve really enjoyed your webinars lately.

  • Are the still available? I am due with our next babe in June, and have a couple days of planning time on Thursday and Friday to prepare for next school year. I thought I might do a little summer planning as well. These are beautiful and would be so helpful! I didn’t see the “I want it box.” Is there something I’m not seeing, or can I get these another way? Thank you!

  • Kristi says:

    Hi Pam, Brandy Vencel’s recent post on planning break weeks (which mentioned that you plan your summers) led me to this post — thanks so much for all these ideas! Very helpful. May I selfishly ask if you are planning to update the calendar templates for summer 2017? They’re so cute, I’d love to use them!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Yes! We will be updating these in May. (Which is coming sooner than I expect.)

  • Kim says:

    It’s already mid 90s here in Dallas has been on and off 80-98 for a few months. It’s why we school year round. Splash parks opened a long time ago. So we stuck with the subjects my kids are struggling in and postponed everything else. We’ve been able to enjoy the “warm” (comparing to the 100+ sure to come soon) weather and mostly empty splash parks. When it does hit 100+ we will be spending more time inside so do more school work then.

    • Kim says:

      P.S. I did love waking up to your email. (What are you going to do this Summer?) Checked the weather high today is 97. I was going to reply isn’t it summer already?! ??? Thanks for all that you do Pam ?

  • Adrienne says:

    I LOVE this post. These are such helpful and practical tips and printables. Exactly what I needed. Thank you!

  • Kimiko says:

    Hi! Love these! Question about your screen time rules: how do you let them use the 2 hour screen time block each day? I’m hoping that many days were are actually at the pool or park during those hours, so that it’s not an option. But if we’re home, mine will want to watch TV or movies that entire time. It is summer…but…? What do you do?

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      They use it how they want to — it is their time and I don’t dictate it. I often have to provide ideas (or chores) for the non-screen hours but they have no problem filling the screen ones.

  • Cindy says:

    Do you think this list would work for a teen with no tweaking? He now texts his friends a lot, too. Do you think screen privileges need to change for the younger teens? (14)

  • Lacey says:

    For some reason it won’t send to my email. I’ve requested the documents multiple times over the past week and it won’t follow through. The scroll bar at the top stops at 75%. Any suggestions? I’ve never had a problem before.

  • Tracy says:

    Hi Pam. I love this post. Great ideas to help days run smoothly! One question…what do you do/what is the rule about days where kids stayed in bed and did chores and everything happened (or didn’t) for screen time to happen but then you end up leaving the house for some reason (afternoon play date at the park/doctor’s appointment/etc.) or maybe company comes over and screen time isn’t reasonable during that time slot for that day? Is it understood ahead of time that sometimes these things happen? Or do you handle it some other way?

    • Pam says:

      I would definitely try to award them their screen time to build trust.

  • Sarah Anderson says:

    I would love to crowdsource some ideas for teens. I have 3 teen girls (13,14,15) who get bored easily and always drift toward screens. What are some ideas to put on the “I’m bored” list or for a fun basket?

    • Pam says:

      Do they craft? Audio books, crochet, knitting, sewing, art, making comic books, scrapbooking, photography. Also there is a difference between producing things on a screen and consuming things on a screen so my daughter does procreate on the iPad and makes art — I don’t limit that.

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