Max Out The Rest Of Summer: Ten Ideas For Your Bucket List

Summer's almost over. How are you going to make the most of the time that remains until school resumes? Here are our top 10 Rest of Summer Must-Do's.

It’s now August. Back-to-school is coming. When you think about the rest of summer, are you a glass-half-full type, or a glass-half-empty?

Rest of Summer: The Glass-Half-Empty Version

A few weeks ago I was all “Oh, summer has flown by, it’s almost over,” when a blogger-friend in the U.K., Victoria at Lylia Rose, left a comment on my Summertime Rainy Day Cheat Sheet post. Her comment amounted to how my timing was perfect, because they were just about to start their summer school holiday.

Their six-week summer school holiday.

And then I realized that I was moping about having ONLY six weeks left to our summer break.

In the past I’ve tended to focus on the half-empty view of the rest of summer. As soon as the Fourth of July hits (and with it, the back-to-school sales), I feel as if summer might as well be done, because back-to-school’s looming approach gets me down.

Summer's almost over. How are you going to make the most of the time that remains until school resumes? Here are our top 10 Rest of Summer Must-Do's.

Rest Of Summer: The Glass Half-Full Version

But this year I don’t have that luxury. With few exceptions, I’ve literally spent the last seven weeks – ALL of my kids’ summer break so far – stuck on the couch with my right foot in a cast, unable to drive anywhere or put any weight on it.

As I draft this post, only a handful of days remain until my next doctor’s appointment. Worst-case scenario, my broken metatarsal will not be healing well, meaning my cast stays on and/or I get a date for foot surgery.

I’m choosing to focus instead on the best-case scenario: my bone has healed enough that I can get my cast off and resume life as Kid-Schlepping Mama Who Can Swim, Sweat, Bike, and Drive.

I’ll have exactly three weeks between that appointment and my kids’ first day of school. Cramming an entire summer of fun into three weeks won’t be easy, but here are my ideas so far for how we can make the most of the rest of summer break.

Max Out The Rest Of Summer: Ten Ideas For Your Bucket List

1. Max Out Water Time

This is our first summer with a family pool pass, and I’ve not been able to swim in our county pool ONCE. We are way overdue for some time at the pool – and not just because water therapy will be a great way to get my right leg back into shape.

If you don’t have ready access to a pool, you can put these water-filled alternatives onto your August calendar instead:

  • Beach days – either at the ocean if you’re near the shore, or at the lake if you’re inland
  • Backyard wading pool days, if your kiddos are still little. (I remember filling our wading pool and sitting in it for hours on end, while the girls splashed around me.)
  • Backyard sprinkler days. (Even these have been off-limits for us, since I can’t get my cast wet and my girls still need assistance and supervision with this process.)

2. Get out of town

Last call for summer vacations! If you and your family haven’t squeezed one in yet, now’s the time.

Essie showing off a leaf from some of the rhubarb she helped harvest last summer
Essie showing off a leaf from some of the rhubarb she helped harvest last summer

For us, one of our favorite parts of summer is visiting my mother on her “farm” a few states/a day’s car drive away. (Her side yard includes about an acre of garden space, and her backyard is 20 acres of woods.) The girls love helping her in her garden, just as I did growing up (and still do). We also love jumping into her pool afterward to cool off.

Here’s hoping I’ll be able to drive us there next week, as well as walk through her garden without crutches and hop into her pool!

3. Squeeze in one last camping trip

OK, so realistically that’s not going to happen for us, largely because August 1 marks when my husband, a classroom teacher/chair of his department, starts prepping in earnest for fall semester. (It’s also a month with many weekend bike rides, which I’d be doing if not for my foot. And we just wouldn’t go on a camping weekend without Daddy.)

But that doesn’t rule out the girls “camping” on our property. They’ve been begging to pitch a tent in our yard since before school let out last spring. If I’m cast-free in a few days, I think this would be a great way to celebrate the end of summer. I might even grab a sleeping mat and join them!

4. Hit the park

Or as many as you can. There’s a neighborhood park barely a half-mile from our house, and I haven’t been able to take the girls there – or to the bigger park a mile away – or to the fancy large new community park a short drive from our house.

No time like the present to cram in as many more park trips as you (and we) can before school resumes.

5. Dine al fresco

That is, have a picnic. Or three, or five. On their own, or in conjunction with any of ideas #1-4.

So far we’ve managed a few front-yard picnics, and a few after swim lessons on the days my mother was visiting and drove them to/from their lessons. (Unlike my husband, she didn’t have to dash home with them and then head into work).

We’re also overdue for a summertime meal on our back porch – partly because the summer heat/humidity around here aren’t very cast-friendly. (If you’ve never worn a cast during a hot and humid summer, trust me: getting all hot and sweaty with a cast on is not the best idea.)

6. Go on a field trip or two

Thanks to my driving ban, I’ve yet to take my kids to the library this summer. Or to any local museums (in fact, our family memberships have all expired over the summer). Or to a game at our local minor-league ballpark.

With three weeks left, it’s high time we make some of these summer memories, while we still can.

7. Make one last round of s’mores and/or ice cream.

Not going camping yet means no s’mores over the campfire. And no camping trips with the ice-cream ball that my MIL bought the girls last summer.

Fortunately, the ice-cream ball will work in our yard, once I can excavate it from our camping gear. And while it’s not the same as doing it over a campfire, there are other ways to make s’mores, from charcoal chimney starters to solar ovens.

8. Clear out last school year’s rubble

I broke my foot days after Kimmie dumped a mountain of last year’s schoolbooks, worksheets, etc. in our front hall. I haven’t even peeked in her school backpack since then, let alone tried to deal with this pile.

When it’s hard to get around your own house, clutter has a nasty way of piling up. It’s all I can do to keep the kitchen counters clean/laundry caught up, and stay on top of the kids’ putting away their toys.

But going through “last year” together is more than a great way to spend time together. It’s also a good mental exercise that will subtly help the girls put “last year” to bed, and start gearing up for “this year.”

9. Prep/shop for this fall

As soon as we’re done putting last year to bed, we can get out this year’s supplies.

My extra-school-supplies drawer (note the 8 pencils for 25c on clearance last Oct!)

Step One is what Amy Suardi, former blogger at Frugal Mama, used to call “shopping at home.” Get out all relevant office supplies you have kicking around your house, spread them on a table, give each kid a copy of their school supply list, and have them “shop” from what you already own.

If this isn’t your first back-to-school rodeo with school-age kids in the U.S. public school system, you’ve probably already shopped ahead at last year’s clearance sales anyway, and/or otherwise have extras kicking around from last year.

If your go-to stash is skimpy, this post by Frugal Florida Mom includes her price comparisons for some U.S. stores, to save you time hunting for the best bargains. Unless you scored stuff off last fall’s clearance pile, she’s totally right: Overall, your best bet for rock-bottom prices is right now, in the weeks before school start.

Oh, and it’s also time to think about swapping over the girls’ clothes to their fall wardrobe, and seeing what holes exist before our local kids’ resale pop-up event season begins next month. I always wait to buy their clothes there, because it’s SO much more reasonably priced!

10. Plan/attend an end-of-summer celebration

Celebrating the end of summer can help you and your kiddos relive all the fun you’ve had. (And gear up for the new season ahead.)

  • Plan a special meal – then let your kids help you cook it, and/or help THEM do the prep and cooking.
  • Go out for a special dinner (this doesn’t have to break the bank; my kids think going out to Friendly’s or a fast-food restaurant is “special” because we almost never do it.)
  • Have a cookout for your family, and/or neighbors and friends.
  • Attend a community celebration. Our neighborhood always hosts a corn roast in our local park at the end of August. Maybe yours has a parade, music festival, film festival, or Heritage Days celebration still coming up in August.
  • Visit a local, county, or state agricultural fair or other outdoor summertime event with your kids. If it’s an option, help them to enter some of their artwork, pet animals, vegetables they’ve grown, etc. in the appropriate contests, then watch them beam with pride as they rack up the ribbons and premium money. Check here to find a fair near your corner of the world.

Here’s hoping my cast comes off – and even if it doesn’t, that we can max out the rest of summer.

What are your plans to make the most of the rest of summer for YOUR family?

Summer's almost over. How are you going to make the most of the time that remains until school resumes? Here are our top 10 Rest of Summer Must-Do's.

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