By Alicia Hutchinson
Summers are meant to be lazy, care-free, and full of open days to do nothing but explore and enjoy the freedom of the season. Summers aren’t meant to be full to the brim with activities on the calendar or endless hours in front of the TV. Children have a built-in sense of adventure that summer can cater to perfectly, but sometimes they need a gentle nudge in the right direction. That said, we mothers can’t properly nudge unless we have our feet under us, otherwise we will default to the game or the TV that’s easier than helping your child set out on a wild, adventurous summer’s day.
Personally, I am not an overly scheduled person. I love routine and organization, but I can’t stand having every minute planned. I like plenty of room in the schedule for spontaneous pool or lake days, trips to the zoo, or discovering a new nature trail. In order to mix the two—routine and spontaneity—I have discovered that a base of organization needs to be created first so that our fun summer days don’t end up in a sunburned, dehydrated mess at the end. Here are five things we can do to create an organized summer house before things get out of hand—leaving plenty of openness for old-fashioned summer fun.
- Stock your kitchen. Summer is all about ease. At the end of a hot day, no one wants to fire up the oven and cook a big meal. Watch the sale ads and stock up on good meats to grill and keep them in the freezer. Pull something out in the morning to grill for dinner. Create a yummy salad and dinner is done! Hardly any meal planning involved.
Try to have healthy, ready-made snacks at the ready as well. Things like fruit leathers, bagged nuts, granola bars, and even fruit are great to have on hand to grab before heading out the door to the zoo.
Paper products are the perfect solution to dinners in the summertime. Keep lots of paper plates and napkins on hand, especially for those nights you’re dining outdoors. Cleanup will be a breeze.
- Make sure the backdoor is ready to send you off. The doorway where you most often enter and exit your home is a really important area. Find a great shelf or hanging basket to hang here for things you always need right before going outdoors. Your basket can hold, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, and car keys. Keep another basket beside the door on the floor for flip-flops or slide-on shoes that are frequently worn. Getting in and out of the house quickly and easily really cuts down on the stress of getting in the car to go somewhere.
- Keep summer toys organized in the garage. You know the scene . . . the balls, rackets, and Frisbees strewn all over the garage floor. You walk out to get into your car and realize you can’t leave because your car is barricaded in by toys. Eliminate this struggle by getting those things organized.
Throw things out at the beginning of the summer. The broken, forgotten toys need to go right away. There’s no use cluttering up your home with items you don’t use. Be mindful about what you’re bringing into your home before you buy them.
- Find some great tubs or containers for organizing. This doesn’t have to be too complex, just some tubs that will hold your sports gear, balls, water guns, and other outdoor toys.
- Set the expectation early. Make sure your kids know exactly where everything goes. Don’t pick up for them. If you find things scattered all over after you’ve set up your system of organization, hold them accountable and have them clean it up.
- Keep things accessible for your kids. If they have to climb to the top of a shelf to get their toys, you’ll probably end up with a messy garage. Keep things at their level so they can easily grab things and put them away.
- Stock your car up for unexpected adventures. Who knows what could happen if you always had bottled water and a picnic blanket in your car? I see spur-of-the-moment picnics by the lake and night time drives that end in stargazing. For the summer, keep things like bug spray, sunscreen, an empty bag for wet clothes or found treasures, a big old blanket, and a few big bottled waters handy for spontaneous summer excursions.
- Make a summer game plan early. As much as I don’t like an overly scheduled summer, I also don’t like it when summer slips away without our annual berry-picking day or summer art week. As early in summer as you can, sit down with your calendar, a pencil, and maybe your community’s event book and jot down things you definitely don’t want to miss this summer. You’ll be glad you did later, but make sure to leave plenty of open days for unplanned fun!
If there is such a thing as “organized spontaneity,” this will help us get there. Have a happy—and organized—summer!
Alicia Hutchinson is called “Mama” by four kiddos; two boys and two girls. They have been homeschooling for seven years, and history and good literature are their favorite subjects. Alicia can be found blogging at www.aliciahutchinson.com where she talks about making a home, current projects, creating, reading, teaching, and enjoying the little things that come with being a mom/wife/teacher.