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3-Month Action Plan to Make the Most of Summer

Jennifer Nelson

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A Summer of intention. Here's a three-month action plan to make the most of summer for you and your family.


Another jam-packed summer looms: vacation, spending more time with family, planting a garden, and making memories with the kids or grandkids. But these few months of togetherness, warmth, and fun go by so fast. It's easy to get caught up in the season, and suddenly it's October, and there's so much you wished you had done but didn't.


This year, perhaps it's time to try something different and be more intentional about your summer.


By setting clear summer intentions — laying out goals, plans and values — maybe this year you'll be able to look back in the fall with more satisfaction. This is the summer you wanted, and you didn't let it overwhelm you.


As parenting blogger Yasmine Moussa says, "Sunday night dinners are a beloved tradition in our family as well as our Saturday movie nights. I think having structure like this is so beneficial for the kids because they know that we have certain events on certain days. And it makes my life so much easier and takes the pressure off."


"It feels like I approach my time as a mom more intentionally."


The point of the summer of intention is not to be rigid and insist everyone spend an hour playing Monopoly or have weekly marathon dinners with Grandma and Grandpa, but rather to help you clarify and focus on your summer goals and plans before summer slips away.


How to Set Your Summer Intentions

Start by making a list of categories you want to include. Some examples may be:

  • Family

  • Work

  • Home

  • Personal


Yours could include volunteering, relationships, travel and others specific to you. Next, start a list of the tasks, to-dos and activities you'd like to get in this summer. Like a bucket list for summer. For instance, if you're traveling for a family reunion, that falls under family. If you want to paint the house, that goes under home. If time for reading three books is on your list, or getting a solid 8 hours of sleep each nights, schedule those under personal.


After brainstorming, your summer intention list might look something like this:



  • Reunion

  • Vacation to Yosemite

  • Game nights

  • Family movie

  • One-on-one time with each child

  • Date night

  • Monthly dinner with in-laws

  • Lake or beach trips

  • Attend niece's wedding



  • Start a softball team

  • Mentor the new hire

  • Ask for a raise

  • Organize a charity car wash

  • Attend a business conference



  • Pressure-wash the house

  • Paint bedrooms

  • Plant summer vegetables

  • Donate kids' clothes

  • Make homemade ice cream

  • Invite neighbors for a barbecue



  • Monthly pedicure

  • Book club meetings

  • Girls' trip to New Orleans

  • Daily meditation

  • Attend yoga

  • Call one friend weekly


Your Three-Month Action Plan

Next, using either a spare calendar, a notebook, a white board or a digital calendar, write out and color code these summer activities. Vacations, weddings, and business events with set dates go in first. Fill in the rest of the categories by using one color for work, another for home and so on.


If you want a date night every Friday, for instance, mark it on the calendar. To schedule painting the bedrooms, mark an available Saturday or two. For dedicated time with each child, pick an available evening or weekend and write "one-on-one with Zach."


Once your action plan is set, look objectively over your three-month intentions. If it's packed, you may want to ease up a little since the idea is to schedule the activities you want to make time for but not be overwhelmed. In fact, make sure you have white space days with nothing whatsoever planned to provide that summer breather.


You'll also need to remain flexible. If you have a beach trip or game night scheduled and one of the kids has a sleepover invitation or has an SAT prep class, that takes precedence, and that's okay. Rolling with changes is part of family dynamics and your intentions needn't be so rigid that game night can't be rescheduled. The beauty of a white board is an eraser.


How Your Plan Pans Out

Setting a summer intention plan can be the difference between squeezing in all the necessary and fun activities you want to do this summer and waking up in September wondering where the time went.


“By following through on your intentions, you gain a feeling of accomplishment and integrity," says Margit Cox Henderson, a psychologist and speaker at Resiliency Resources in Denver.


"I believe in using structure like this to be more productive and it really works! Knowing we have a family outing once a week during summertime takes the pressure off and makes planning so much easier," says Moussa.


If setting your three-month summer intention works well, you might just think about setting new intentions come fall.


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About the Author

Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based health writer who writes about all things sleep hygiene. She writes for The National Sleep Foundation, Phillips, Tom's Guide, Southern Living, Health, AARP and others.

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