July can be a bittersweet month. All of a sudden, the start of a new school year doesn’t feel that far away. That can be a relief—school is a predictable routine that parents rely on—but can also be a reminder of all the summer plans you haven’t gotten to yet.

Don’t panic. There is still plenty of time to make the most of the season for your kids without driving yourself crazy.

Step One: Get Organized

At this point in the summer, your bucket list should be more achievable than aspirational. Sit down with your family and let everyone choose a local place to visit or an activity to do together before the summer ends. Think of things that are simple but special and can be accomplished on a weeknight after work, like trying a new recipe that makes the most summer produce, or on a weekend day like taking your family bike ride to a park you’ve never been before.

Step Two: Don’t Be Afraid of Scheduling

Summer has a reputation for being a time of long, carefree days. But scheduled fun is still fun—and can prevent boredom. Set up time for your children to spend one-on-one with friends before the group dynamics of the school year come back into play. This will help your child develop good social skills and strengthen relationships. If you can, coordinate with your child’s friend’s parents to take turns hosting, so that you each get some kid-free time out of the arrangement.

Step Three: Balance Family Time with ‘You’ Time

Spending more time together as a family is one of the best things about summer. Maybe you have a vacation planned, or are taking advantage of a less packed schedule to spend time at home enjoying each other’s company. Those moments are important, but don’t forget that even though you’re the parent, it’s your summer too!

Whether you’re signing your kids up for summer camp or dropping them off for a week with their grandparents, there’s nothing wrong with planning for a little kid-free time for yourself before summer ends. They’ll get a great experience out of it, and you’ll be able to get the extra dose of relaxation that everyone deserves this time of year.

 

Summer always goes by too quickly, but it’s never too late to enjoy what’s left of it. If you need more ideas for fun summer activities, here are some suggestions:

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