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Ask The Organizer: What are you biggest challenges with organizing busy summer schedules?

Many, many of you have written in or commented in the last few months that you are really struggling with home organization. So I’m excited to let you know that I’ve teamed up with Andrea Dekker from Simple Organized Living to bring you a brand-new monthly feature called called “Ask the Organizer“.

Each month, we’ll feature one organizing question and let you weigh in your thoughts, answers, and opinions. Then later in the month, Andrea will pick one or two of the most popular responses and share her tips, ideas, and suggestions for dealing with those issues!

This month’s question is:

What do you struggle with most when it comes to organizing busy summer schedules?

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to planning family vacations, fun activities, sporting events, holiday get-togethers, etc.?

Leave your answers below and then check back in a couple of weeks for Andrea’s expert organizing advice!

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  • B Scott says:

    Getting out the door with everything/everyone! Figuring out the most efficient way to get everything organized and packed (equipment, *clean* uniforms, drinks, snacks, diaper bag, etc)

  • Jan says:

    I don’t want to be at home in the house! I don’t even want to spend the time to get ready I just want to get to the pool LOL!

  • Lisa says:

    How can we balance wanting to spend every day hanging out with the kids outside with our knowledge that the house doesn’t clean itself and the laundry doesn’t fold itself?

    • Susan says:

      OMG Lisa! You hit the nail on the head for me! I’m a working Mom (4 10 hour days commute) so I’m constantly trying to cram cleaning/laundry/cooking/preping/shopping etc into my 3 days. I took a stay-cation for two weeks due to baby-sitting issues and I claimed I was going to “Spring Clean” while I was at it. Nothing got done! Well, almost nothing but I’ve been BUSY! How oh how I’m I going to deal with summertime outdoor beauty when NOTHING else will get done!!!!!

      PS: I do have a cleaning person come every other week to help, but there’s still A LOT to do!

      • h. says:

        I get up about an hour early two days a week to clean the house (minus the bedrooms) before work while my family sleeps, so I have time with them in the evening and weekends. But as a full time working mom I struggle with how to fit in swim lessons, etc. Thankfully, our vbs is in the evening.

  • Lisa says:

    Just say “no”, they are called the lazy days of summer for a reason, we make a huge effort to limit our commitments etc so that we can spend at least one weekend day all together doing something fun (just picnicing and swimming at the local beach etc) and don’t run errands or spend the day cleaning. Yes I still do a load of laundry after the kids are in bed, but mostly focus on family. Life is short and I want to make memories.

    • Andrea says:

      Yes! We do not participate in any organized activities in the summer. I keep the beach toys in the van ready to go. Every week, I make sure I buy portable food that’s easy to eat on the go (grapes, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, etc).

  • Marcelaine says:

    My struggle is getting out the door early enough to have some fun outside before it gets unbearably hot and humid. It seems like by the time I’ve convinced my kids to eat breakfast, gotten clothes on everybody, packed the diaper bag, changed diapers again, and so on, it’s already 11:00 and it’s really hot outside.

    • deseray says:

      Girl, you sound like you live in Florida! I know because I live in SW Florida, and there is no going to the park after 10 in the morning.

  • Heather C says:

    I struggle with the less structured time of summer. I felt like I was busier last summer than during the school year (and I have four kids that I homeschool). We weren’t overdoing the activities, I was trying to stay open to the moment. Though we still have some structure (mealtimes, bedtimes) I think I felt like I did not know how to get stuff done or find time for myself. It was probably not _that_ bad but I like a lot of structure/routine. Any ideas for how a routine oriented person can let loose a little and not go crazy would be appreciated!

  • Chelsea says:

    I struggle with remembering everything we need for our busy days! I almost always leave important items behind… it drives my husband nuts. I’m trying so hard to fix it, but I can’t figure out a good system.

    Whatever I leave behind usually ends up costing us money. Sack lunches (we have to eat out instead), the stroller (we have to rent one instead), or important papers/memberships (we have to pay full price or drive back home to get them.)

    Help! Lol. 🙂

    • Denise says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      You’re definitely not the only one who struggles with forgetfulness:) Have you tried taping a checklist by the backdoor or even putting a checklist in your car with such things as you mentioned in your post? I have had a lot of success using checklists. When my kids were younger they had a checklist in the bathroom and one for getting ready for school.

    • Heather says:

      Put your husband in charge of remember stuff, if that’s his strength.

  • Marisa says:

    I have 3 kids 14, 7, and 1. I struggle organizing time to make all 3 happy and entertained.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I love to go places, but I don’t love all the stuff. First you have to pack it, then after the fun (when you’re exhausted), then you have to unpack, put it away, and wash it…. And while you’re gone all the time there’s never time for dishes or laundry. So, it piles…

  • JoannaTopazT says:

    My biggest struggle with summer fun is that all of the advice sites on “what to do with/for your kids in the summer” are geared to stay-at-home moms. Those of us who work outside the home would like to let our kids have fun, too — but it’s a challenge when things like Vacation Bible School are scheduled during the middle of the day, for half days, with no transportation options.

    • Susan says:

      I agree! There should be transportation available OR “after-care” options like the after shool programs.

    • Chelsea says:

      Just a couple suggestions- by us, a nearby church does evening VBS from 5-7, a local swimming pool does a “starlight” swim every night until 9PM, and our zoo has all sorts of evening activities. Maybe some of those local public facilities might offer something for your area as well? It’s worth looking into. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Andie says:

    WRITE IT DOWN!! Don’t rely on your memory (especially if it is a BAD as mine!) Write every practice, ballgame, library story time, VBS time, playdate, etc on your calendar!!

    I love the fact that summer is much more relaxed than the school year (I am a teacher, with three kids of my own…LOVE being home with them!!). We have tons to do with swim team, baseball, softball, library story time, VBS, kids’ theater, book club, and everything else, we are very busy! But at home I TRY to have some sort of schedule. The kids have a chart of what is expected each day…from a chore, practicing piano, reading for 30 minutes, etc…they each have some expectations. I am going to add TV and game time to their charts this summer…each child will be allowed 30 minutes of each a day (they get to pick a 30 minute show, but are allowed to watch their siblings’ choices as well), and if they want to watch a long movie, they must combine their times.
    Hoping to have a wonderful summer!! (**Only 5 days of school!!!**WAHOO!!)

  • Sarah says:

    Biggest challenge to a family vacation is deciding about care for an elderly relative. Should we take them with us or should we ask someone to care for them or should we take turns in staying behind? The first option is good in many ways but requires very careful selection of a holiday house and means that any walking days aren’t really possible. The second option is expensive and means that the house has to be spring cleaned before going! The third option sort of works but means that we have to leave part of the family behind. Would love some organisational help on this one.

    • Sara says:

      I would look into health insurance options for respite care for your elderly relative. If they have a case manager you could ask them what the cost/options in your area are.

  • Meredith says:

    Being 100% honest here, I am not busy in the summer. I have the most problems organizing things to do. My daughter goes to preschool three days a week through the year and is off the summer. I get used to having time to cook and bake, clean, do laundry, etc….then boom, I have no time. It’s so hot here in sc that it’s either go to the pool or lounge by the tv in the air conditioner. I’d like some ideas on how to organize fun, family home time without resorting to sheer boredom.

    • Andrea says:

      Make a “bucket list” of all the things you could do with your daughter during the summer, post it inside a cupboard door where you’ll see it everyday and then choose a couple (or more) each week.

      Some ideas: finger painting, water balloons, play in a sprinkler, go to the children’s museum, “paint” the shower stall with shaving cream, make homemade ice cream or popsicles, etc.

  • Heather Johnson says:

    Trying to get everyone where they need to be and home again without going crazy!! I have 4 kids – really only 3 involved in summer activities, but there are so many things that I could sign them up for. I’d like them to have the opportunity to do various things but I don’t want to run myself ragged from running them all over town at all times of the day. PLUS I have one that still needs a regular afternoon nap – one that needs to be at home in her crib. How do I do it all and still enjoy summer “vacation”???

  • Jen says:

    I sit down with the kids at the beginning of summer and we make a list of everything we want to do. Things like going to the fountains, the pool, the beach, making homemade ice cream, going to library for free activities, going berry picking and making jam, ect. Then we just schedule everything into the calender. The kids are really motivated to make it through our “summer list” and we try and take lots of pictures to remember it all. This has helped so much as we use to feel like we never got around to the things we really had wanted to do. We set a new list of summer chores (such as each child being in charge of keeping an area of the house picked up) to avoid mom spending the summer doing extra housework rather than taking the kids out for summer fun. Their area needs to be clean before meals and before any “field trips”.

    • Jessie says:

      We also do this with our calender at home, that way we dont run out of time and the majority of the “fun days” are already set aside. The biggest problem that I have with this is the lack of planning done by the rest of our relatives. needless to say if we are invited too late then depending on the planned outing we wont be able to make it to their family event. Sorry!

  • Erica says:

    One thing I do to save time is keep items we use every week in the car. For example over the summer we go to the local pool at least once a week. So all our pool toys and passes stay in my trunk. Even the towels, after they are washed to straight back to the car. Then when we want to go swim one morning all I have to do is get suits on and pack snacks. I know everything we need is ready. Also we like to do the kids bowl free program. And because I am so frugal I don’t want to pay for shoe rental (at two and a half dollars per kid) so I buy everyone cheap bowling shoes and then pack the shoes, extra socks, and passes into a bag and keep them in my trunk. That way when we are in town and we have extra time we can just swing by the bowling alley without any extra planning.

  • Amy says:

    Wow! one organizational thing I can opt out of!! 🙂 I stay home with 3.7 kids and my hubby is a teacher. Needless to say, no homeschool in the summer AND having my hubby home every day is a BLESSING!!! 🙂 we do a lot of outdoor things (because they’re usually free or super cheap!), so I keep a bag of staples in the van for outdoor activities (sunblock, bug spray, extra clothes). For swimming I have two ‘swimming bags’, one clean and ready in the house, always ready to be rotated to the van when we bring home the wet/dirty stuff. 🙂 we LOVE to be outdoors, so maybe that’s why organizing for it is so easy for me!

    Now, let’s just NOT talk about my house!! OY! 😛

  • Charlene says:

    I have 2 bags that I make ready for the summer . A swimming/ beach bag for towels, sunscreen, sand toys, and a change of clothes. And a park/ outing bag for sunscreen, hats, and small toys. All I need to do is add snacks and drinks. This saves me lots of time in the morning.

    I found out that if you have to many things going on through the week it just makes everyone cranky. So we stick to 1 or 2 outings a week. To keep the house clean I have the kids help out. On the weekend my hubby will take them to the park . Which gives me time to catch up!

  • Lerin says:

    My problem is fitting in time to work in the veggie garden. We have 3 small children and though I’m a SAHM, I teach fitness classes 1 (sometimes 2) nights a week. My husband works a full time & part time job, so 3 nights a week he is gone. It works in the winter time, but the garden will soon take hours of work every day. We can’t cut back on work schedules and we depend on our veggie garden for food for the whole year.

  • Joanna says:

    Getting supper on the table at a decent hour. The long days of summer often mean we stay outside until it’s late, then rush around trying to decide what to cook for dinner!

  • Bernadette says:

    I feel like my organization problem is the same, regardless of season! I have a 4 1/2 y.o., 3 y.o., and 10 m.o. and would love to actually spend time with them during the day, and even though I stay at home, it feels like I spend so much time on laundry, dishes, and cleaning up that I don’t have time for anything else! I’m struggling with how to get all the “urgent” stuff done and make some time for the “important”. I don’t feel like I waste much time during the day, and I really can’t get up any earlier since we’re usually up by 6:30 anyway and I’m not even close to being a morning person! In between trying to get everyone fed, cleaned up, and taken care of, I just can’t seem to find more time. Help!

    • Bernadette says:

      And I do freezer cooking for most dinners so I don’t even have to spend a ton of time on dinner, besides for fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t know what I would do if I actually had to cook every night!

  • Amy says:

    I struggle with just doing the activities we want to do- I made a list at the beginning of last summer with the kids so we would do everything everyone wanted to do- and I thought, ‘ok- we’ll go to the park once a week and the beach once a week…’ but that didn’t happen. It’s overwhelming for me to prep for being out too many days but the kids get bored at home. I need to make a more realistic schedule of what can get done within a week.

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