Simplifying Summer

deck.jpgPursuant to yesterday's summer camp query, here's the first in a series of posts on structuring your summer plans. Though I know many of you have already booked summer programs, I can't imagine I'm alone in just getting around to firming up plans (Bueller? Bueller?) so I hope this -- and the forthcoming posts on summer camp programs (submit a recommendation today to be included in tomorrow's roundup) and summer activity inspiration at home -- are helpful to you! Today's ideas on simplifying summer come from the lovely Jane (also of see jane blog):
My four kids will be home with me this summer (i.e., no formal camp programming), which is lovely for the relaxed pace, but also includes some coordination to keep track of everyone and build in some structure. I work out of home and will address summer at-home activities in a separate post, but meanwhile, I wanted to share some overarching strategies to simplify your life during the summer months. I find that these tips are essential both so you can enjoy time with your kids during the break and so that the time you do get to yourself (e.g., while the kids are engaged in other activities) is not spent entirely on household minutia!

1. Map it out. It's good to create a roadmap for the summer, whether you have no, some, or all of your weeks filled with summer programs and travel. Create a calendar that is easy for the entire family to access and map out daily activities, both to encourage structure and to save you on having to keep all of the plans in your head. If your kids will be at home all summer, pencil in special everyday activities, such as nature walks, writing letters, and day trips to local museums.

2. Swap play dates with parent friends. Swapping play dates with parents is fantastic because it's fun for the kids and gives parents time on their own. (Oh, and hey, it's FREE!) Try to build regular play date swaps into your weekly plan.

3. Simplify basic tasks. Less running around doing errands during your free time = good. Three of my favorite sites for saving on errands: 1) for baby-specific goods. Shipping is free and usually delivers within 1-2 business days. 2) has a wide range of drugstore items (including lots of environmentally friendly products + the ability to fill prescriptions) and offers free shipping, a deal of the day, and instant coupons with a click of the mouse. 3) offers non-food items, beauty supplies, and natural and organic and kosher products.

4. Outsource errands online. In addition to shopping online, you can also use the web to enjoy take-out delivery service ( as well as book cleaning services ( and a range of other services (Task Rabbit).

5. Have your kids be helpers. Quite often, I find myself attempting to do everything. If I simply remember to ask my kids to help -- for example, helping to plan and prepare a meal, take a younger sibling for a walk, plan family craft time -- everyone is willing to help if I remember to ask!

6. Bring in extra help if needed. Particularly if you have several kids going in different directions at the same time -- or if you simply need some extra time during the day for your own projects -- bring in extra help. If your usual date night sitters are not available, query your mom friends, or you can usually find intermittent sitter help via services such as

I hope these tips are helpful! If you have other awesome ideas to share on how you simplify summer, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

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