It’S Almost Summer!
No, Really!

It seems so far away and then, BAM!. It’s here. Summer, that is. The lead up is so very long, but the actual time is short. Rather than get knocked sideways trying to plan when it’s already upon you, make your summer vision a reality by thinking about it now, in the middle of winter. When you think it will never get here is when you should be planning for lazy days and vacations and camps.

Family planning summer vacation

Of course, the job of planning the family routine -- even the routine of a more relaxed season like summer -- is up to you. That's why they call you mom, of course. As an executive of your little corporation, you have significant influence over how summer will go, even when it's five below outside. Don't let summer overwhelm you! Start planning now to make it a great summer for all of you.

Consider the whole family

Think about the needs of every member of the family when charting out your summer. Careful consideration of certain dynamics among your toddler or adolescent kids, for example, might help you decide you need to look for some structured camp or activity for one -- while the other is someplace else entirely. Also think about your wishes versus your kids' and your sweetie's reality. You may wish for lazy days at the beach, but other members of your family might have more restless personalities. Think about ways to balance those variable factors.

Get out the calendar

First thing's first: Get out the calendar. Look at the dates your kids get out of school and when they will return to school. Mark any known events, such as a favorite parade or other community event. Look hard at the number of weeks you really have for planning summer fun and/or a vacation getaway.

Set a timeline

For the remaining weeks of winter and spring, set a timeline for when you'd like to have certain things nailed down. If you need to have a summer sitter, what date do you need someone firmed up? Work backwards from that to be sure you give appropriate time to the legwork. If you get things in place a little at a time, the last few weeks before the end of school -- with all the end-of-school stuff -- hopefully won't be as frantic.

Create a budget

Be honest about what you can afford to do this summer. Whether it's camp or entertaining or a vacation, make a realistic financial plan for meeting those summer needs. If you want to go on a vacation, research options and costs and make sure you're setting aside money for that now.

As much as you daydream about summer, thinking realistically about summer and what you and your family can and want to do is what will turn the summer into a great one. Plan, organize and strategize early -- and you'll slide right into summer with the greatest of ease.

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