6 Smart Ways to Embrace Summer Vacation

Whether you’re working or hanging out with your kids for the summer break, Mighty Mommy shares six smart  ways you can embrace your summer before things start to get too hot!

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #485

When school lets out for summer most families breathe a huge sigh of relief and quickly go from a highly-structured mode to a much more relaxed atmosphere where schedules and commitments are pushed aside for lazier days of kicking back and chilling out.

I personally love that I get a ten week reprieve from making school lunches and even better, we don’t have to set our alarms for most of the summer. But I cannot tell a lie—as much as I love having my kids home from school, ten weeks is a very long time to have them underfoot.

Since I do work full-time outside of the home, however, the days of being my kids’ “cruise director” all summer are thankfully long gone. And quite frankly I do miss the many ways we used to spend summer vacation as a family despite my having to find ways to entertain them for over two months straight before those school bells ring again right around Labor Day.

Whether you’re working or hanging out with your kids for the summer break, two-plus months of having your kids home every day can, let’s face it, become a bit daunting (for both them and you).

Great summer vacations are possible and yes, even easy, if you take a little bit of time to make some plans. Mighty Mommy shares six smart ways you can embrace your summer before things start to get too hot!

6 Creative Ways to Spend Summer Vacation

  1. Keep a Schedule and Set Expectations
  2. Declutter from the School Year
  3. Kid Swap
  4. Create A Vision Board
  5. Playdates After Work
  6. Encourage Boredom

Here they are in more detail.

1. Keep a Schedule and Set Expectations

It’s only natural to want to abandon the rigid structure your family has maintained throughout the school year once your kid’s backpacks are tucked away for the next couple of months, but if you do so altogether you could be asking for trouble.

Kids crave structure and boundaries even though you’ll never hear that from them, so even though their stash of #2 pencils are out of sight, it doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t keep their routines and schedules going strong. In 6 Tips to Transition Kids from School to Summer I talk about enforcing the routines you've worked so hard to maintain throughought the school year. 

Every household will have to establish their own summer groove, depending on your children’s ages, if they have their own summer jobs or activities to attend and of course what your work schedule looks like for the summer. I find it’s helpful to lay out what your expectations are for the summer. By doing so, the entire family is on the same page and there are no surprises for kids or parents alike when everyone knows what the plan is.

In How to Enjoy Summer Vacation Without Losing Your Mind, my first tried and true tip is Outline Your Summer Expectations: “By setting up some straight-forward guidelines for your family at the beginning of summer vacation, you can save yourself a lot of grief when things don’t go your child’s way. Successful summer expectations can be simple and tailored for each child.  Emphasize in writing how your kids are expected to contribute to the household during the summer months and what the consequences will be if they don’t do their part. 

These contributions can include household chores, summer reading, how much electronics time will be allowed, and how much money they can expect you to contribute to outings like the movies or the mall. Ask for their input so they will feel that they have a say in how they spend free time. For example: If you expect your son to take care of his own laundry this summer, let him decide the day and time of this chore. Print the list of expectations, have your child sign it, and keep it posted in a high-traffic area as a constant reminder.”

2. Declutter from the School Year

The end of the school year means a notable transition for the entire family. Backpacks, lunch boxes, and homework stations are probably chock full of year-end papers, projects, broken crayons, assorted school supplies strewn about your home (probably including your car) and kid’s bedrooms are full of little reminders that your child has been leaving your home early in the day and going strong in school and then rushing from one activity to the next after school.

One way to kick summer off to a positive and fresh start is to take some time immediately after school has let out and clean up and declutter all your school areas to get them ready for the more carefree days of summer. Go through backpacks and lunchboxes and rid them of the past year’s claptrap that you no longer need. Have your kids help you spiff up their homework stations and chuck anything that has no purpose. Take some decent chunks of time and transition their bedrooms and other main areas of the house such as the entry way and family room from school days to vacation mode so you can relax in the weeks to come and not have constant reminders such as outgrown shoes, ill-fitting clothing, and tattered sports equipment and such cluttering up precious space around your home.

3. Kid Swap

When the majority of my kids were younger, my friends and I developed a summer survival system called the "Kid Swap." Basically we pre-arranged regular days throughout the summer where we swapped one another’s kids. This included either hosting kids at our house for an afternoon so one mom always got an afternoon to herself, or it allowed for instant playdates once a week for families that only had one or two kids. (With eight kids, you know who got the better part of this deal.)

Because I had older kids, I had built in "Mother’s helpers" so when I had a few extra kids, I had it made. When my kids went to a friend’s house, my older kids would be along for the ride, so it was a win/win for all.

Get creative and enlist aunts, uncles, and grandparents. If you have some respite to look forward to each week, it definitely keeps you less stressed and your kids benefit because they get a change of scenery and other kids to hang out with on a regular basis throughout the summer.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.