Keeping the Summer Fun Going All Year Long

This summer we had the opportunity to spend 5 amazing weeks in Colorado, thanks to several friends who needed house and dog-sitters. For two-thirds of the time, the kids were in a local day camp while we worked remotely, and the remainder of the time was vacation.

Three houses, three hotels, three cities, two dogs, and two sets of grandparents added to the fun of hiking, white water rafting, horseback riding, hot springs and plenty of ice cream.

It took a fair amount of planning and a bit of risk (we ended up finding someone to stay in our place to watch our cat about a week before we flew out), but we decided it was worth it to both avoid the competitive and expensive camps where we live and be true to our family value of adventure.

Now that we are back in New Jersey with a few weeks before school starts, I’m reflecting on the out-of-the-ordinary summer fun routine that we adopted in Colorado – and how I might want to explore incorporating that throughout the full year.

  • Instead of adjusting to the local time zone on our trip, I kept my East Coast hours. My work day started at 7:30 AM, but mostly ended by 3 PM, about the time the kids got out of camp, which allowed us to hike and explore in the afternoons as a family. Now with school approaching, I’m wondering – can I start my work day earlier all the time?  What would this look like? What will that impact? (for example, I shifted my workouts and showers from the morning to the afternoons/evenings)
  • Having a dog out gave us all an excuse to take walks throughout the day. And being in the natural splendor of the West made us want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. So I’m curious now about how can I build in more sunshine/walk breaks throughout the day in our normal routine – even sans dog and mountain scenery?
  • Being out in the afternoons/evenings meant that we ate dinner out more often, which was easier for our family chef (my husband) but harder for one of our kids with anxiety around food. Back at home, I want to see if I can continue to ease the meal prep burden on my husband, while still supporting my kid. One idea is to have lunch dates once a week/month, where we try a new restaurant. Would this one meal break provide him enough of a respite for family dinner, while allowing us to talk and connect?

To determine the answers to these questions, I’ll explore what’s important to me and to my family, clarifying our values and priorities.  And I’ll likely test out a few different scenarios before deciding on a final schedule for us, taking in data without judgement, to see if it’s possible to bring some summer fun into our school year.  Sure, it’s probably easier to sick with our old plan, but I’m hoping we discovered something new about ourselves in our adventures the last few months and it’s worthwhile to honor this new identity, even for a few weeks.

What did you learn about your family or yourself this summer that you want to incorporate into this back-to-school season?