photo-1431361413065-7347ae14a9b8Soon the kids will be out for the summer, so here are some ideas to curb a scheduling pile-up or worse, a scheduling vacuum.

This happens every year, where you are all humming along with your own tracks for work, school, and play when, wham, school is out. If it snuck up on you, well, join the club. Now ensues the mad dash to find something for the kids to do during the day for the next eight weeks or more. Thankfully this year, we are thinking about it now, and in giving the summer break its due, we can look at some other possibilities that include enjoyment, socializing, education, and relaxation. With time on your side, you can put your organization skills to use and have a truly brilliant summer with a good mix of work and play. Consider the following:

Check out MeetUp

Since the days are longer and there are so many events, workshops, and day trips to go on, MeetUp is a great way to connect with other parents and kids. You can toss around ideas, organize group trips, and trade off taking the posse on adventures.

Camp Invention

This is a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) program funded by the U.S. Trade and Patent office, and it’s a specialization camp for kids. This is next-level, hands-on educational fun with a curriculum designed by members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

University Extension

Believe it or not, many universities and state schools have summer extension and enrichment classes for kids in elementary and junior high. Your child could be taking a writing class or basic anatomy at a college with other eager learners.

Crowd Source a Nanny

If you team up with another family (maybe from your Meet Up gathering?), you can hire a sitter or even two to watch a group of kids – a few days a week. They can do library or park excursions, supervise swimming, and come up with fun food and crafting projects.

Farm Internship

If you’ve got teens and those teens are likely to be watching Vine and selfie-ing on Snapchat, here’s an alternative that will get them outside, contributing, learning, and making friends. This might be a hard sell, but if you can find a local farm run by young enthusiast farmers (and there are more of them all the time), you will be surprised by the transformation that your teen may make by the time August rolls around.

Reading List

Most teachers send home recommended reading lists for the summer, which is a no-brainer great activity no matter what ages your children are. Post their lists and talk to them about the stories they are reading at the dinner table.

Home Improvement

Again, better for older kids, but the warm weather is a great time to finally repaint the bathroom or put in new fixtures. If you have a family workday, the younger ones can “help” with non-toxic cleaning materials. You can also make a list of household tasks that your older ones can scratch off throughout the summer.

Mini vacations

What lots of execs are starting to do, rather than taking a two-week block, is set aside three or four day weekends throughout the summer. Less expense, low impact, and everyone still feels like they got a well-deserved break. There are a ton of last-minute deals and mini vacation packages online, so pack a bag, drive a few hours, or take a quick commuter and enjoy a few days by a beach or a pool.

If you finagle it right, you will get your daily dose of quality time, the kids will have a joyful and expansive summer, and you can keep your company running smoothly. Summer is naturally active but remember as you check out opportunities and mix it up, that there should be a little downtime in there too.