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Monday Mom challenge: Envision a rockin’ summer

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Summer fun

To make the most of summer, you need to do a little planning for your “free” season -- as contrary as that might sound. Whether your summer dream is a vacation, camps for the kids or hanging out at the beach and doing nothing, start now to make it a rockin’ summer.

kids on the beach

In mid-winter, it seems so far away. That too short season -- summer -- is a distant memory and hard to fathom among the blizzard warnings and holidays and school commitments. As each summer approaches, you resolve to make the most of it -- but how often does the reality of summer leave you a little wanting? Not enough of this or too much that. So much pressure to pack so much living into a short period of time!

Take stock of last summer

Now, in the middle of winter, when the memories are slightly faded, take time to think about last summer. What was the best thing about it? What was the hardest? What do you want to do again? What do you definitely not want to do again? Did you try to do too much? Not enough?

How do you think the summer went for your family? Were your kids happy? Was their camp as you expected? Did you and your sweetie get enough time alone together? Did you socialize as much as you would have liked? Or too much?

An honest look back -- especially now that time (but not too much time) has passed -- can point you toward the things that might make this coming summer the best ever.

Write out a summer wish list

Take an afternoon -- bonus if it's a snow day! -- and write out a summer wish list. Put everything on it that you can think of, both realistic and unrealistic. When you envision the "perfect" summer for yourself and your family, what does it looks like?

Just because it's not realistic doesn't mean it shouldn't go on your list. It's a wish list! You may wish to take the family in vacation to Positano, Italy (who wouldn't?) -- but maybe you can at least get to the coast and enjoy the sea air? You've got to admit to your wishes before you can even begin making them come true.

Start prioritizing and strategizing

Now take that wish list and start thinking about ways to make some of those wishes a reality. Talk to your sweetie and your kids about what is important to each of you in summer and start strategizing and researching and even planning for summer now.

Take extra time if you can

If one of your wishes is to spend more time with the kids, planning now may mean you can make it a reality. With glimmers of hope in the economy, slight though they may be, now may be the summer to ask your supervisor if you can work from home one day a week, or even take a brief unpaid leave of absence -- even just a few days! That kind of planning may do wonders for your mental health long before those negotiated days arrive.

Summer, with its lingering daylight and special playlist, will be here before we know it, even if the cold does make it seem years away instead of months. A little summer daydreaming can get you through the winter doldrums -- and help make it the best summer yet.

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