As summer vacation approaches I find myself furiously planning out the days ahead. Ninety(ish) days of total freedom. No work. No school. Okay, maybe that’s a little overstated. I tutor and work a very part-time job over the summer and I do a relaxed homeschool schedule with the boy-child. But after that, baby, it’s all fun and sun.
Some people plan big vacations in the summer. Personally, I find vacations to be stressful. The packing, the traveling, the stress of navigating a new location, the spending exorbitant amounts of money. In my opinion, there is a very short period of time in which said vacation is enjoyable and more often than not, it’s just not worth the hassle. Thankfully, my husband feels the same way and my son, while he loves dreaming of going away and doing things, is really a dyed in the wool homebody at heart. As a family, we decided a few years ago to compromise and do a larger family vacation biennially. In the off years, however, we opt for a quiet “stay-cation” at home.
While the idea of having nothing to do and endless hours to lounge and laze around does sound appealing, it would get old after awhile. Really. Really. Old. In all honesty, I would go out of my mind. I need some structure. So, what in the world do you do with three months worth of freedom when you want to keep your budget reasonable but still have a memorable summer?
Early on I will typically spend some time researching special events that will occur throughout the summer and write them on the calendar. Then, as a family we will sit down together and make a list of local attractions that we would like to visit. This year we’ve also compiled a “100 Things of Summer” list, which includes some personal goals for each of us, home projects, day trips and fun free things to do at home. Finally, we purchase season passes for places that we will frequent many times. Every year our season passes include a State Park pass, Philadelphia Zoo and Plumpton Park Zoo a small, locally owned zoo where we sometimes volunteer. While it may seem redundant, we get our money’s worth and then some from both of these zoos. I love the Philadelphia Zoo pass because of its fantastic Reciprocal Zoo and Aquarium program. In recent years we have also added a fourth pass to the mix though it has changed each year. A local museum was usually the choice, however, this year we have decided to go with a private pool that is less than 5 min. from our home. To say that they boy-child is excited would be an understatement. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that he has asked, “how many days until the pool opens?”
At the beginning of the summer I lay out a basic template for each week:
Monday – library
Tuesday – park/$1 movie day
Wednesday – zoo
Thursday – stay-at-home, board games, movies etc.
Friday – misc. outings
Sometimes the weather dictates that we swap days here and there but this gives me a general idea of what I want to accomplish in a given week. My husband has off every other Friday throughout the year and in the Summer, he will typically take off those other Fridays using his vacation days. This gives us one day as a family to head off to places I might not necessarily drive on my own. Making Thursday our “stay-at-home” day is perfect then since we are able to get the house clean before my husband’s day off. The other days are pretty self-explanatory. We go to the library each week for new books, CD’s and movies. We hit a state or town park each week and sometimes participate in the $1 Regal Summer Movie Express. I am excited since this year the theater will be playing plenty of movies that we haven’t seen in the Summer Movie Express. On zoo day we visit our small locally owned zoo and oftentimes volunteer. On weeks that we don’t volunteer we make sure to take bags of produce and herbs for the animals. Last summer the boy child and I were able to feed Jimmie the Giraffe some of said herbs.
Something else that we do in the summer is a modified summer homeschooling but that is fodder for another post.
Until next time!