Why We Prepare to Be Productive (Even in the Summer)

posted by Andrea | 06/25/2019

A few years ago, I shared a post about Why I Prepare To Be Productive.

In that post I said:

As with almost everything in life, my productivity changes as my season of life changes. The productivity tips, tools, and ideas that work for me right now, probably did NOT work for me a few years ago, and might not continue working for me in another year or two.

Sometimes one thing works for a while, then another tip or idea or tool works better, then we have another baby or take on a huge home renovation project and I completely change my most productive time of day, and then the kids start sleeping better so I change back… I think you get the idea! 🙂

However, one thing I have always done is “prepare to be productive” the night before.

Read the rest of that post here… but make sure to come back and finish reading this post!! 

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Now a couple years later — with one more child thrown into the mix, more school schedules to work around, more “extra” activities for our family, and the fact that Dave and I now wake up a 4am every day, I can honestly say that preparing to be productive is EVEN MORE crucial for my productivity each day. 

And yes, I still “prepare to be productive” every single night – even in the summer! 

I think we often fall into the trap of thinking summer should be this magical time of no work, all play, beach days, ice cream cones, sleeping in, watching movies, going on vacations, throwing schedules away, and having fun all the time. 

I don’t know about you, but that’s not how my summers have ever been (even with Dave home all summer)! 

This is NOT to say we don’t thoroughly enjoy our summers, but we certainly still have schedules and to-do lists each day. 

In all honesty, preparing to be productive seems to be even more important for us during the summer months when we have SO many extra things we want to pack into our schedule. 

Not only do we have a laundry list of house projects (big and small) to work on every summer, we also have a huge amount of yard work, pool maintenance, and a growing vegetable garden that take up much of our “extra” time during the summer months. 

And of course, there are all sorts of fun things we want to do with our kids and as a family when we’re all home in the summer — things we wouldn’t normally do during the school year.

  • family bike rides
  • playing at various park
  • picnics, or going out for lunch or ice cream
  • bowling and/or mini golf
  • zoo and/or farm visits
  • library events and various reading challenges
  • play dates with friends
  • special outings with each individual child
  • day trips to local events and attractions
  • splash pads, water parks, and pool parties
  • sports camps and swimming lessons
  • Vacation Bible School
  • special crafts and activities at home
  • various book series and movies we want to read and watch
  • etc. etc.

 

So yes, our summers are fun, and the schedule is definitely a different “pace” than during the school year, but in order for us to be able to enjoy doing all these fun extra activities and still have time for cooking, cleaning, blog work, and managing everything else we do on a daily basis, Dave and I absolutely MUST “prepare to be productive” all summer long! 

So How Do We Prepare To Be Productive in the Summer? 

Dave and I sit down at some point EVERY evening and look over the things we NEED to do the next day and our menu plan for the next day:

  • house projects
  • mow or weed the lawn
  • clean bathrooms
  • do laundry
  • bring a meal to someone
  • bake bread or roast veggies
  • blog work (Andrea)
  • course work (Dave)
  • attend various meetings or appointments

Next, we discuss the things we WANT to do, if we have time:

  • take the kids somewhere fun
  • do something fun with the kids at home
  • visit a relative or have friends over
  • run various errands
  • non-urgent house and work projects
  • give Nora a piano lesson (something we’re slowly working on over the summer)
  • have friends over
  • watch a movie
  • pick strawberries or blueberries
  • wash and vacuum the cars

Finally, we figure out IF and HOW we can fit it all into our day.

Often times, with a plan in place the night before, we can easily fit everything we NEED to do and everything we WANT to do into a given day — and still get the kids in bed by 7:30!

However, sometimes we realize we most likely will not be able to fit everything into one day — the beauty of planning ahead to be productive is that we realize this BEFORE we’re in the middle of our day, wondering why we can’t fit everything in (and then dealing with crabby, disappointed kids who were excited to do something we no longer have time to do.)

If we notice our schedule is more full than normal, we can easily drop a few things off our “want” list and push them back to another day. 

If we’ll be gone/busy all morning or all afternoon, I’ll pack lunches and get food in the slow cooker while I’m making breakfast so we don’t have to worry about what to eat for the rest of the day. 

If we know we have a house project that requires both of our time, we plan to work on that in the afternoon when Clara is napping and while the other kids play outside or watch a movie (depending on the weather). 

If we know the weather forecast is bad, we’ll plan fun inside events for the kids or head to the bowling alley… and if we know the weather is going to be sunny and warm, we’ll plan to go to an outdoor location or invite neighbors over to swim. 

If we know we all need to be out the door on time to get to an appointment, I’ll plan to make a breakfast we can eat and clean up quickly (like cinnamon rolls and smoothies.)

If grandparents offer to take the kids for a couple hours, we arrange our schedule accordingly so we can do more focused work during that time period (or just go out for lunch if it works with our day!) 

If Dave or I have a pressing deadline to meet for a project or for school/blog work, the other one might arrange to take all the kids out of the house for a few hours while the other one stays back to work. 

I realize Dave and I are both very “type A” and thrive with schedules and routines — however, I can honestly say that without planning ahead to be productive the next day, we would not have nearly as much time in our schedules to work on house projects, keep our yard looking nice, make meals from scratch, and do ALL sorts of fun things with our kids every single day. 

And no, we do NOT schedule our days by the minute or even by the hour. We simply have a do-able, realistic plan going into each day that makes it much easier to be productive and much more likely we’ll actually be able to do everything we set out to do in a given day (work and play)! 

Without a plan, I have a feeling our summer days would fly by without us realizing it and we’d end up in August no closer to hitting any of our “summer goals” and wondering why we never had the time to cross off any of our summer bucket list items. 

For the record, our summer goals are: 

DAVE: take an online course for school, work on several school projects, and learn video editing (to help me with upcoming blog projects!) 

ANDREA: master the art of Sourdough bread making, learn the process of making videos for online purposes

NORA: learn to play the piano, improve her swimming abilities, read a ton of books

SIMON: learn to ride a bike without training wheels, swim without swimmies, pee standing up, and start reading

JAMES: learn to pump himself on the swings and learn to swim without swimmies

CLARA: drink from a normal cup and stop waking up in the middle of the night

HOUSE: paint and make some smaller renovations in our outbuilding, and tackle the bathroom off the kitchen

I certainly believe that summer is an excellent time of year to have a lot of fun, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your productivity. 

Dave and I are both home all day — so we most likely have more time to tackle house and yard projects, grow a big garden, run an in-home business, cook from scratch, maintain a clean-enough home, entertain regularly, and do TONS of fun stuff with our kiddos every single day. If you work outside the home, it’s even more important to have a plan in place and prepare to be productive so you don’t end up totally burnt out by the time school starts up again. 

As long as we prepare to be productive, we are able to make the time for the things we NEED to do, as well as many of the things we WANT to do! 

How do you handle summer schedules for your family? 

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Filed under: LifeFamilyWorkSchedulesDaily LifeProductivity

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23 comments

  1. Patty

    06/26/2019

    Love this kind of post! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome!

    [Reply]

  2. JJ

    06/26/2019

    So much yes! Your posts continually pump me up to stay productive!!! Do you have a link to the containers you use to prep lunches? Are those the silicone cupcake liners in there? Genius! I love how you listed out summer goals for each person! Cheerios in the potty was what my Granny suggested for my boys to stand to pee. Oh, no. There’s a fire! Put it out by spraying it.

    I thought potty training my girl was easier, but she had some private area issues that made it very uncomfortable for her. The doctor said she had chaffing in that area. She suggested having her put her feet on a footstool and legs/feet should length apart. Lean forward with elbows on thighs. That helped SO much and reduced/eliminated after a couple weeks our issues. I know that might be a bit personal, but if anyone is reading this and has a daughter scream every time after she pees saying it stings(but not UTI or infections) that helped!

    [Reply]

  3. M Ann

    06/26/2019

    The picture of your cinnamon rolls motivated me to search for your recipe. I found the recipe for the rolls you make from frozen bread dough. Could you please clarify your comment in that recipe: Best of all, you can easily make these rolls the night before so breakfast is ready when you wake up!

    Do you mean that you bake them completely the night before or do you let them rise overnight? If so, in the refrigerator? I am thinking they would rise too much at room temp.

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for cinnamon rolls!!
    the rolls in that picture are actually using my newest recipe for 100% whole grain bread dough. However, you can most definitely use frozen bread dough too!
    If I make them the night before, I assemble and cut the rolls, place them in the pan, and cover and refrigerate overnight.
    You’ll need to let them rise for 60-90 minutes the next morning before baking.
    Alternatively, you could definitley just bake them the night before and reheat (in the microwave) the next morning.

    [Reply]

  4. Jamie Prince

    06/26/2019

    Zoom in on your kiddos face on the trampoline…..not so happy….

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    what a silly comment… the older kids are all super happy on the tramp. Clara is clearly trying to get off (so to make her wishes known, she needs to fuss a bit, big deal!) Nora is helping her get off the tramp, like any good big sister would.

    [Reply]

    fern Reply:

    The first four words of your reply say it all! The common sense approach you Dekkers have toward child-raising is going to produce four strong productive adults. What’s with people anyway?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Fern 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Sarah Gardner

    06/25/2019

    Hi Andrea,
    Do you have a link to those super cute lunch containers? And are those things separating the food just silicone cupcake holders?
    Thanks so much for all your posts. They’re so applicable to my everyday life! Enjoy the summer!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Here’s the link to the sandwich containers (the blue ones I used for the lunches) — and yes, the dividers are just silicone cupcake holders!

    [Reply]

  6. Tiffany

    06/25/2019

    Thank you for posting this!!! It is so timely for me! I am a longtime reader!!! My first and Nora are similar ages and the next kiddos line up pretty closely except that we are expecting number 5 in just a few weeks! Anyways-
    I have been so totally struggling with the guilt of summer not being all pools, playgrounds and zoos as there are a few projects that just had to be tackled around here before baby arrives. I have been waking up significantly earlier than normal- no 4 am, but it has helped me accomplish something and still find time for playgrounds and pools! We homeschool and summer is a welcome change of pace but that doesn’t mean everyday needs to be all play! I keep trying to remind myself of that and this post gives me confidence to keep going with the not as fun goals while chiseling away at the bucket list of fun!
    Thanks for your encouragement!!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well thanks for hanging around for such a long time Tiffany — and congrats on baby #5! Exciting!

    It’s fun for me to be able to make time for extra “summer activities” for our kids while still being able to manage everything for our home and my business too. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it all without planning ahead, and it’s worth it because our whole family is more relaxed and happier!

    Good luck with your to-do-before-baby bucket list. I know those lists well — they are SO rewarding to cross off!!

    [Reply]

  7. Meghan

    06/25/2019

    Andrea, thanks for a great post! I am so crazed in the summer trying to fit it all in! I have been waking up earlier than in years past (no 4:00 😉 but 5:30). I truly dislike it, but at about 7:00, I’m thankful that I got my workout, shower, and Bible time in before the day gets crazy. I have a special planner I use in the summer.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I do think getting up earlier is a great option for any parent trying to get a little alone time before kids wake up. I’m glad you are enjoying this time each morning!

    [Reply]

  8. Suzanne

    06/25/2019

    This was a great read! I am employed at a somewhat year-round school, and get about a 5.5 week summer break and my 11-year-old son 7 weeks. I keep thinking of summer break as this extensive break, like the 12 week one I had as a child, and OVERBOOK my intentions for what I’d like to accomplish, all while running him to various fun sports and computer camps and playdates. I’ve realized I need to tackle just a few things for myself: I’ve made a bunch of new recipes, organized my school calendar and cleaning schedule for the next year, and while we have a wish list of things we’d like to do together while my husband works, that summer needs to feel “out of the norm” a bit, with a little more fun in the every day, like lunch watching Garfield on the sofa, running out for donuts with a friend, playdates on Sunday when he’d normally be doing some chores. I’m trying to schedule, yet have a lot of flexibility for fun. It goes by so quickly for us, and school days are always so busy. These days we’ve made are busy, but different, and that makes them special. Just today I’m making a note on next June’s calendar to maybe make smaller wish lists and build on them if we have time. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, the shorter summers are deceiving! Dave “only” has 9 weeks this year — in the past he has had up to 11 weeks, and it DOES make a difference. We get a lot accomplished, but we still need to set reasonable expectations as well!

    [Reply]

  9. Karen

    06/25/2019

    Great post! This has been one of my first years to try to spend my summer with intention. One of my goals is to do a whole house purge. I only have an 11 year old left at home, so I know I can get it done. I’m a new sourdough baker myself. I love following Bakerbettie on IG. She did a great series complete with walking you through a starter daily.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for a whole house purge! Good for you!
    And I’ll have to check out the sourdough starter series! thanks 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Maureen Padgett

    06/25/2019

    Hi Andrea—Thanks for cracking me up with that goal for Simon to learn to pee standing up. So, not only is your blog such a blessing to me in so many ways—you also make me laugh and bring back fond memories, and that is good for my soul. Thank you!!! Oh, and you do know about placing Cheerios in the toilet for them to aim at don’t you???

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, we know about the Cheerios in the toilet 🙂

    [Reply]

    Mary Reply:

    My brothers grandsons learn to pee standing up at his house, out in the country on the side of a tree. Very exciting.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, very exciting!

    [Reply]