Summer… ahhh… there’s a palpable change in the air – a feeling of lightness, fun, relaxation, and freedom from worry. As the end of the school year approaches, projects and sports activities press us for time, resulting in a start to summer that is usually fraught with stress and anxiety. This year, like last year, was a summer, unlike others, as we were, and continue to be, impacted by Covid19 restrictions. This has meant children are spending a lot more time at home. Getting the family organized for all the eventualities of summer and children will give you peace of mind and help you relax. So, let’s kick the summer into high gear now so that your summer-savvy will be the envy of all.
Of course, the responsibilities of life and work don’t just go away with the change of the seasons. But there’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself for a fun-filled relaxing summer. Here are some tips and ideas to organize your summer – whether it be in your back garden, the park, beach, or the lake.
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STORAGE OF SEASONAL TOYS
The toys and games that are used during the summer, whether for outdoors or rainy summer days need to be stored separately from your children’s regular toys. The main reason for this is that they get a lot more wear and tear (i.e. dirty, chipped) and they need to be checked that no parts or pieces are missing.
Sort through all of your children’s toys, games, and equipment. Let go of anything that is broken, missing pieces or parts, your children have outgrown or haven’t used in over a year.
Ideas for Categories:
- Cottage/Rainy Day Games
- Sports – Summer
- Sports -Winter
Dedicate an area in the basement, attic, and/or garage for seasonal storage. Install storage shelves and some hooks. Make sure the shelves you choose are big enough and deep enough for those large plastic bins. Measure twice and buy once!
Get plastic bins that securely shut. I like these types of bins because they lock shut and are made of clear plastic. Label them clearly with a black permanent marker. You want to make sure the bin doesn’t get “reassigned” while the contents are in use. You can use labels on the bins, but I have found that labels on seasonal storage bins tend to lose their adhesiveness and fall off. These bins will be empty while not in use so it is important to have them permanently labelled.
If you do not have sufficient space to store your seasonal toys indoors, consider purchasing a deck box for your garden or balcony. Deck boxes are watertight, can be locked, and provide you with an excellent source of extra outdoor storage for summer or winter outdoor accessories.
For games that have parts and pieces (board games, badminton, chalk, ball games etc.) store them in zip-lock bags. The vacuum zip-lock bags can be very handy for storing all your outdoor blankets, or summer/camp towels and bedding – they take up a lot less space and keeps them dust and mildew-free. They are also easy to label which is important as, believe me, you will forget what you put in each bag and if it is vacuumed sealed, you will not be able to identify it unless you open it up again.
This year you might not be travelling far but you will be able to get outside in the garden or go to your regional parks, lakes, and pools. Establish a Travel Central. Whether it’s in a dedicated notebook, filing cabinet or a vacation category in your handheld organizer – keep all travel information in one place.
Include contact information for:
- the children’s camp (address, phone numbers, email etc)
- vacation destination
- car rental agencies
- copies of passports
- copies of health card numbers and/or insurance
- frequent flyer numbers
- personal packing lists for each family member and pets
- a “before we leave” checklist (I love the one created by Ashley of the Goldhive)
- instructions for house-sitters
DAY TRIP PACKING
Whether you are going to the local park or further afield for the day, packing what you need in the smallest amount of space, efficiently, and as light as possible is important. I have found that preparing an adult backpack, children’s backpack, pets backpack, and food hamper is the most efficient way of getting organized quickly.
Organizing Personal Essentials
Label the backpacks and then in each backpack put a list of essentials to pack in a ziplock bag. This list will remain permanently in the backpack. Having a short inventory of what to grab and pack means you don’t forget essentials (like sunscreen), but it is also very efficient and allows you to be a lot more spontaneous.
In the adult daypack put sun protection, first aid, sanitizing and face mask supplies, extra bags, extra clothing. For the children’s daypacks, I put their clothing (which will vary depending on their age and needs) and toys, and for the dog’s backpack, I have their water/food dish, poop bags, food, towel, and treats.
Organizing Food and Beverages
Personally, I like to take my own food with me on day trips, mainly because I have food allergies. It is also a really good idea for keeping costs down as buying food and snacks on the road is expensive. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Ontario prices have gone through the roof for food and the quality has gone down. So, we prepare our own. We do of course buy some food, mainly food that doesn’t travel – like fries and ice cream. The rest we bring with us.
There are some great cooler options on the market now. The soft-sided, collapsible coolers are a great idea. They fold up when not in use and can also be used when grocery shopping as well. However, if you are a whole family or a group of friends going out for the day then I would also suggest taking a separate cooler for your drinks and beverages. Liquid is heavy and the hard plastic coolers are a more practical solution here. They can also serve as a seat or “table” which can be very handy! I like the Coleman cooler because 1. The handle when not in use folds down alongside the lid in a cut-away groove, not taking up extra space. 2. The interior lacks any fancy lines or contours making it very easy to clean. 3. Square, plain, simple. It’s also sturdy enough for me to sit on. I didn’t need drink holder spots in the lid as drinks vary from a 12 ounce can to a wine bottle or large Slurpee type cup.
Having a successful and happy summer does require some advance planning, but with a little work, before the last school bell rings, you can ride the heatwave and have fun all summer long!
For more tips on organizing your car or family for day trips check out these blogs
- Toy Storage Solutions
- How to Keep Your Car Organized
- 6 Storage Tips for your Children’s Hand-Me-Downs
And don’t forget to check out my Pinterest Board for more tips and suggestions on getting your family organized for the summer.
Free Professional Organizing Advice for you!
We could all use something to look forward to right now. I want to do something that will add value to your life, that would help you during these confusing and challenging times of lockdowns and working from home. When you are organized there is less chaos, less overwhelm. An organized home and work environment can bring you a sense of calm, ground you, and help you feel more in control. It is one of the things that we can influence and control despite what’s happening in other areas of our lives or communities.
I am offering a “mini organizing consult” for free,with your co-workers, family, or friends. Let everyone know because I want to give back and help you. Now is when people really need it.
All you need to do is complete this, attach a photo of 1 area in your home or office that you need organizing help with. Every month I am going to choose at least one person to work with. Here are a couple of readers I have helped already:
- How to organize a home business stockroom for peak efficiency
- How to organize my students planning notes and supplies while teaching online