Fun To-Do Lists are a simple and effective way to combat summer boredom and virtually eliminate the phrase “I’m bored” from your children’s vocabulary!
One of my favorite things about summer break is that our whole family is home together all day, every day without any big plans or huge agenda.
One of my least favorite things about summer break is that our whole family is home together all day, every day without any big plans or huge agenda.
I’m joking… kind of!
Truthfully, our family is very content to spend the vast majority of our 10-week summer break at home — swimming, bike riding, playing whiffle ball and basketball, jumping on the tramp, and having lots of friends, neighbors, and relatives over for pool parties and playdates.
However, our days are always more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and more productive when we start with a list… specifically A Fun To-Do List!
Early on in our marriage, Dave and I realized that unless we had some sort of a plan for our summer break, the days and weeks seemed to slip by. Before we knew it, Dave was gearing up for the back-to-school season and we hadn’t accomplished anything on our mental summer bucket list.
After we added children to the mix, we were reminded of how important it was to intentionally allocate the fleeting moments of our summer break so we didn’t flip the calendar to September while regretting the things we wished we should have done…
- Visit parks, splash pads, and nature centers.
- Participate in church, community, and library events.
- Host various pool parties and backyard BBQs.
- Camp in the backyard.
- Wash the cars.
- Take a bike ride to get ice cream.
- Make a bonfire with s’mores.
- Go to the beach — hello Lake Michigan!
- Grow a garden.
None of these are big things — most are completely free and only require a few hours of our time… but that’s the problem.
We think… “we’ll do them another day”, but “another day” never comes, and then it’s back-to-school again for the year.
That’s why we make our trusty Fun To-Do Lists!
What’s A Fun To-Do List?
It’s simply a list of everything we need and want to do on a given day — written in colorful markers (it’s fun, remember!) and taped to the side of our kitchen cabinets where the kids can easily read it.
Our Fun To-Do Lists include everything we can think of:
- What we’ll eat for all our meals and snacks (and what times we’ll eat)
- What activities we plan to do that day (even something simple like “play outside” or “do a puzzle” or “bake cookies” or “paint rocks”)
- If we have plans to invite friends over.
- If we’re going somewhere (even just to the library or the neighbors)
- Any appointments or obligations we have
- Any house chores or yardwork we need to do
We also try to block out one chunk of time free time for Dave and one chunk for me each day (even if it’s just 30 minutes). It’s fantastic!
What makes it so fun?
Honestly, I don’t know!
But our kids love it… and every time they have friends over, the friends comment on it.
I think it might be the fact that the kids all know the plan for the entire day and can anticipate the “fun” things we plan to do without constantly asking us “is it time for ______ yet?” or “what can we do now?”
We do also intentionally try to think of a few fun extras each day — like visiting a park, going to the library, making a special dessert — things we might not normally do on a weekday during the school year.
If there are less fun activities (like pulling weeds or doing the laundry), the kids are extra motivated to work quickly in order to cross them off the list and get to the more fun to-dos.
Plus, the fact that our WHOLE family does it all together makes it fun and special for us.
The Benefits of Fun To-Do Lists:
If you’re not naturally a type-A person, or if you’re simply not in the habit of making lists, you might think we are totally CRAZY… but I’m telling you, don’t knock it until you try it!
Here are just a FEW of the many benefits for our family:
- Dave and I are both on the same page because we make the list together each evening.
- We rarely forget ANYTHING because we have 4 kids who are eager to remind us of everything on the list.
- I never have to wonder “what should I make” or listen to the kids ask, “what’s for dinner” 18 times a day because they can just check the list.
- The kids almost never ask us “what can we do?” or complain about being bored.
- Dave and I enjoy windows of free time each day.
- We are more diligent about planning out-of-the-ordinary activities each day.
- Our kids learn responsibility — following the list instead of us constantly reminding and nagging them.
- We are all much more intentional with our summer break — which has a tendency to “waste away” without us realizing it.
- We accomplish more AND have more fun (see note above about being more intentional).
- We’re more appreciative and aware of little blessings and pockets of fun throughout the day.
I should mention that we only make these Fun To-Do lists during the week — not on the weekends.
We also use Fun To-Do lists over Christmas break, spring break, and any time our kids are off their “normal” school schedule.
You could easily adapt Fun To-Do Lists to fit your life, family, and schedule. For example, they could just be a weekend thing if you work during the week, or you could pick one day a week as the Fun To-Do List day. There are no rules, no template, no printable, no “right way”.
Just grab a piece of scrap paper and a few colorful markers and make a list!
Fun To-Do Lists are a simple tool to help structure the long-feeling days of Summer and make the most of these fleeting moments at home with our families.
More Lists Posts!
Dave and I are list fanatics — we make a list every night to help our days flow more smoothly.
Here are a few more of my “list posts” (many of which top the charts for my most popular blog posts over the last decade!)
- Improve your efficiency with Weekly To-Do Lists
- Use a Top 5 Lists to jump-start your day.
- Enjoy your productivity by making a Done List (I love doing this)
- If you’ve never made a DON’T-Do List, you must give it a try!
- My tips for creating more manageable To-Do Lists
- My Free Printable Grocery List
- My Free Customizable Daily To-Do List (this is an old file, but still very useful)
- The planner I use (and how I use it).
- More lists of simple ideas to upgrade the everyday.