Charting summer vacation follow-up

Last June, my wife and I decided to save more money and more deeply invest in time we spend with the kids. The result was “Camp Caolo,” our summer-long stay-cation complete with chores, summer rules, goals, a wish list, and more. Now that the summer is over and the kids are about to return to school, I’m taking a look back on what worked, what didn’t, and what we will change next year.

  1. Weekly chores. I’d be lying if I said this went off without a hitch. The kids did their chores, most of the time. Often with protest. But hey, I’m not thrilled about doing my own chores.
  2. The summer rules. “Be nice to everyone or be alone in your room.” “Respect others, their sleep and their stuff.” “No fun until chores are done.” Again, these rules were hit and miss. Following through on number one a few times drove home the notion that we’d do just that: follow through on it. Rule number two was pretty easy to get compliance on, mostly because they slept like logs all summer. Finally, my wife and I did cave on rule number three a few times. Not habitually, but it did happen.
  3. The summer wish list. This was great fun. At the beginning of the summer, we all took sticky notes and wrote down a few things we’d like to do, like visit Boston, establish a family game night, camp out in the back yard, have a movie night, swim in the lake, take a fishing trip, go mini golfing, etc. Really everyone in the family loved moving a “to do” activity to the “We did it!” column. The kids got into figuring out when we might complete a certain activity, and we added a few on the fly. We didn’t get to everything, but now we have goals for long weekends this autumn.
  4. The boredom jar. This was another huge hit. My wife printed many wonderful answers to “What can I do?” onto thin strips of paper, glued them onto tongue depressors, and stuck them into a jar. When the kids asked that inevitable question, we pointed them to the jar. Eventually they’d wander over to it on their own. They ended up making several fun projects and spent lots of time in the yard just being kids. We’re going to keep the jar in play for as long as it’s effective. If you have kids, I recommend making one.

Finally, we bought journals for the kids to update as summer went by with notes and mementos from our activities. This fell by the wayside rather quickly. There was so much other stuff to do that we would forget about it for weeks at a time, and then the thought of getting “caught up” was enough for us to abandon the idea entirely.

Next year we’ll make a few changes. No journals and a little more leeway on chores. They are helpful kids and they do pitch in. So, if there’s an occasional pile-up of flip-flops on the kitchen floor – as there is as I write this – that’s not a big deal as long as it isn’t constant.

I want to say we’ll be less ambitious with proposed activities, but I’m not sure. We missed out on a few and really good ones and that’s disappointing, but not for lack of effort. Plus, we can carry them over to the school year, even though there’s a lot less time to get them done.

The days are getting cooler, the tourists are going home and the summer vacation chart is coming down off of the wall. Next stop is school, scouts, ballet, and so on. Summer 2013 was a good run. Here’s to a safe, fun, and productive autumn for all.

6 Comments for “Charting summer vacation follow-up”

  1. posted by Brandy S. on

    I love the idea of the boredom jar! I would love to know what what you had on each paper. Maybe you could give us a list so we can use it as a guide to make our own. Thank you!

  2. posted by Jeannette on

    Congrats on your summer stay-cation planning. Having set some guidelines and rules, you probably ended up accomplishing much more in terms of getting the kids’ cooperation as well as accomplishing various goals.

    OK. So you couldn’t always maintain the rules. It happens with adults, when we set our own goals, etc. But the kids learned flexibility and how to go with the flow.

    What I love is the amount of attention you and your wife took to create an environment and structure that supported your fun goals/free time as well as what was needed to keep the household running. That level of commitment certainly reaped a lot of “rewards” (and not just the obvious ones) for you and your family. Plus, it seems you created a real, working family unit that not only worked together for household stuff but also for fun.

    If only more parents could undertake this level and type of involvement and commitment with their families.

    The boredom jar is great (hey, adults could use those, too!)

  3. posted by Bruce Ungersbock on

    The boredom jar idea is tops!! Really enjoyed that 🙂 if you would like a professional company to unclutter your business then look no further than

  4. posted by Marcia Lorraine on

    I used this summer vacation chart for myself! I am 50+, do not have children, but am married and take care of my 90+ year old mother.

    My husband and I don’t vacation away from home much and spend lots of time and money fixing up our house. I used a quick note on my iphone to keep a list of the day trips and other activities we (I) accomplished. Now I’ll be ready when asked “how was your summer?”

    It might seem like overkill, but often my ideas end up in the “best laid plan” pile. Thanks for making it real for me this summer.

  5. posted by Alicia on

    HI-cool ideas! What were the activities you put in your boredom jar? I could really use some suggestions for my 7 year old son. THanks!!

  6. posted by Laetitia on

    I say keep the journals but remove the ‘chore’ factor by not requiring them to be ‘caught up to date’ – just write in them when you have a thought you want to keep for posterity. After all, that’s what a blog really is – an on-line journal.

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