How I am getting organized now to make summer actually feel like summer

Happy Summer! I’m sure you’ve heard or said this a time or two, but how is it the end of the school year and already summer? I don’t know about you, but I’m not prepared.

The last few weeks have been a blur, and while there have been so many wonderful moments (first and foremost our wedding!) and experiences that have taken priority of everything else on my schedule and to-do list, I know that I’m going to be able to get back on track...even if it feels too far-fetched to believe it until I actually see it happen.

Like many families are currently experiencing, the beginning of summer signals the end of the school year and with that comes the beginning of a schedule (or lack thereof) that is far from our typical September-June routine that we’ve nailed down over the years. The girls' backpacks are still sitting in our mudroom waiting to be unloaded. Those same bags will be used for summer camp, so I’m on a deadline to clear the bags and unload several weeks worth of papers/projects, yearbooks, trinkets (and trash) and put what's to be saved into sentimental/save boxes so that my girls can look back on their third grade year with delight. As tempting as it is to empty the bags and throw in a bin to deal with later, I know that the bin will get neglected and when I finally do come around to empty it I will be frustrated that I didn’t handle it sooner. Out of sight can only be out of mind for so long.

This time of year also brings on the rise in events to attend. I’m sure that most people reading this probably didn’t just get married like I did, but I’m sure that many of you have attended your fair share of weddings, graduation parties, or some sort of end-of-year celebration (or even more worthy of a pat on the back: you may have organized or hosted one of these!) and can relate to how much time and energy it takes to plan, attend, and wrap up an event regardless of the size or scope. And while we experienced (and still are) tons of joy and gratitude, the entire wedding event--and the time before and after--took up a lot of physical and emotional time and energy.

While summer is a nice break for the kids, we all know that the work (and expectations and priorities that come with being an adult) continue regardless of the month or season. Life pays no attention to the calendar, so we’ve got to learn how to manage what we can so that when the curve balls come we know how to balance it all. Yet, despite all of the chaos and excitement from the last couple of weeks, I want to get back on track so that I can enjoy summer (which officially started yesterday) and I am already feeling behind in my Type-A mind.

We have a couple of trips planned (SO excited for our “family-moon”) and this entails preparation for booking places, planning our activities and itinerary, and--of course--packing the family.

So, how am I am going to deal with the blur of the last few official weeks of spring and really get to enjoy (and I mean enjoy!) summer now that it is here?

  • Make a Plan. I am going to do a lot of planning right now for every aspect of my summer. And planning isn’t just helpful for those other Type-A planners out there who would do this anyway! I am going to figure out where the school papers go now and schedule time to organize them. I am going to plan out our camp days and figure out somewhat of a routine for our family to stick to (but still leave room for so summer fun!). I am going to look at the places we are traveling and plan out activities, sites to see, etc. so that I can actually enjoy the time when we are there instead of feeling overwhelmed by making last minute decisions. And while it takes time on the front end to plan, planning early will not only save me twice as much time on the back end but also make the process less stressful. I know that once I get the big planning out the way I will be able to enjoy the spur of the moment, less structured plans/priorities that pop up every day.
     
  • Write it Down. I am making lists galore to get everything out of my mind, down on paper. This includes not only what I need to get done today, but also everything that I need to do coming up (like writing down what I need to pack for the girls to bring to camp). I am going to write out a packing list for any and all trips we are taking, even those in the late summer, so that I will not be rushing around when it comes time to pack and I then end up forgetting something--or worse-- have to run out and purchase it at the last minute. I am going to write out what they need for next year’s school year, just so I have the list prepared until it’s absolutely necessary to run around my house and see what we have/purchase anything new.
     
  • Categorize To Dos. As I expected, my to-do list is longer right now due to the blur of the last few weeks. My priorities shifted for a few weeks out of necessity and I wasn’t able to focus on certain areas as much as I usually do. However, not everything on the list is as important as the next. For summer, I am going to get my must-dos (doctor forms for camp, make hotel reservations, etc.) and other to-dos (organize and label this year’s saved paperwork is on the list...yes, alas, it isn’t as important as I might want it to be...for now) laid out so that I can visualize what need to get done and get to work on the important tasks first. Those to-dos that aren’t as important will always be there, but at least during the slower pace of summer I will be able to see and know which ones are truly necessary to accomplish within a certain time deadline.

We’d love to know: What are you doing this summer to feel more organized and really enjoy your summer? Are you creating a plan of attack and planning out the organization room by room? Share your comments below and include any end of school year transition tips that have worked in your home!

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Rachel and Company is a professional organizing firm based in Bethesda, MD, serving clients in the Washington, DC area including: Potomac, Maryland Georgetown, the Palisades, McLean, Arlington, and Alexandria, Virginia.