summer fun

It’s hard not to dream big at the beginning of summer-the tantalizing prospect of activities seems to stretch endlessly ahead. Then swim lessons, camps, work and lazy days creep up until August arrives. And who hasn’t tried to cram a summer’s worth of activities into the last week?

Before summer slips away this year, get together with some friends and plan three months’ worth of field trips. Sharing the planning makes a lighter workload for everyone, while also ensuring the summer isn’t suddenly over without some fun.

Friends, calendars, ideas

In the same way having a workout partner increases the likelihood of actually working out, having activity buddies increases the chance you’ll do some of the things you plan.

Start by charting out the summer and reserve some days for field trips. You don’t want to be too rigid (there’s plenty of that during the school year), but you don’t want to let summer slide by, either.

“Five to six outings for the summer-about once every two weeks-is ideal,” says Leslie Conneely, a professional organizer from LaGrange and owner of Space Simplified. “Keeping it always on the same day of the week (‘Fun Fridays’) serves as an easy reminder and routine.”

What to do?

The Chicago area offers a dizzying array of options for kids. Brainstorm together and find a good variety: indoor, outdoor, free, cultural, nature-based, educational or just plain fun.

“When our neighborhood planned weekly field trips, we made sure there was something for everyone so no one got bored,” says mom of three Laura Rehling, whose neighborhood field trips included strawberry picking in Wisconsin, Blackberry Farm and a train ride. “We had as much fun as the kids did!”

Activities can be as varied as visiting one of the downtown museums, the Indiana Dunes, an amusement park or carnival, an outdoor concert, a hike at a nature center or a visit to a historical center.

Take charge

Once the basic itinerary and dates are set, find a group leader for each trip. Ideally, each person only plans one or two outings. The leader does the legwork for the rest of the group, nailing down directions, cost, parking, snack or lunch options and a general description of the activity.

Planning as much as you can in advance makes it easier to pick up and go on the day of the trip.

The best part of summer is the break from routine and the chance to relax and have fun. All the planning is worth it when you look back proudly at what you accomplished rather than with regret at what you didn’t do.

Laura Amann

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