the plan …

for summer is done, and none too early.
today is the first day for schools in Eastern WA and I’m so excited — I really am.
I just have to have some sort of overarching schedule/plan and then I LOVE summer.
I’ve been mulling it all over in my head for weeks now and finally executed it early this morning. There are 3 components …

1. Summer Fun Clipboard
Each kid picked 3 "activities" that they had to do sometime during the summer. These are now on the summer fun clipboard …

that hangs by the phone. When we do one of these things, we cover up the square. The orange squares are things that are scheduled (like 2 family reunions, trips to my mom’s etc.) Now no one can say "we didn’t do anything fun all summer!" because I’ll have evidence!!

I’m going to do what I am calling a "realtime" scrapbook — in a photo album. This means, I’ll take pics during these activities/events, pull out one or two (for my category files) and slip the others in a photo-album as we go. By the end of the summer, we’ll have a Summer Fun 2007 photo-album complete — you’ll be seeing more of this in an upcoming issue of SS!

2. Popsicle jobs
No photo here, but I have written a bunch of daily jobs on popsicle sticks. Each kids pulls one stick each day (Taft’s jobs have the letter "T" on the end) There are four "orange" sticks that represent weekly jobs, so each boy pulls one of those on Monday morning.

3. Clipboards
We use clipboards during the school year (with a fair amount of success) and so I’ve adapted this for summer. Each boy has a mini-clipboard, listing their everyday responsibilities — stuff like bedroom, clothes, laundry bin, piano — there is one sheet for each week, so before they can go anywhere or invite anyone over, their clipboard has to be checked off. There’s a circle for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. In an effort to maintain some sanity (for me and for Jenna, our sitter) I’m limiting the number of "play dates or fun stuff" to two per kid, per week.  In other words, when the two circles are filled in — that’s it for the week and that kid can stay home and hang out here! 

so .. what it boils down to is individual plans twice a week, some family fun at least once a week and chores/homework (Dad assigns) every day.

You may think it lacks spontaneity (I don’t) you may think it sounds kind of mean, but I have had several ask how "I do it" and this is one of the ways. I’m a scheduler. I don’t expect it all to work  perfectly, and I’m in charge, so I can make exceptions when I want to — but it does give our days some structure and with 5 kids — I need structure!!

I’ll keep you posted on how things are going —
12×12 and 4×4 clipboards can be ordered at Oriental Trading (btw they have quite a selection of scrapbooking basics at affordable prices)


  1. traci grange says:

    stacy…you rock! i love the mini clip board idea. what does their regular school year one look like?
    I would love to be able to adapt something like that.
    and i am proud to say my lom is working for me! i know where everything is and no more hunting for pictures, and my color drawers are fun and i am using so much more things that i ever have before…and I have been having so much fun being able to just scrapbook! have a great day! traci

  2. I love your ideas! I am going to put them into my “mommy idea book” for when my family is old enough to need this. I love structure too and just think all 3 of your ideas are fabulous!

  3. These are amazingling fabulous ideas! I want to implement some of them for our six year old daughter! You are my hero!

  4. LOVE IT!!! I am off to buy the clipboards and try it out. I too would love to see the school year clipboards. Thanks so much for sharing. You always have the best organizational tips/tricks. Keep feeding them to us. :)

  5. These are WONDERFUL ideas! I’ve been looking for 12×12 clipboards, too! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  6. great idea! With summer vacation rapidly approaching (2 more days of school here) this gives me another way to plan activites in addition to the basics (i.e. swim lessons and 1 camp). My boys will love it and it will keep me sane! (I don’t know how you do it – I hit my max with 3!) Thanks a million for sharing!

  7. katie m. says:

    LOVE this idea Stacy! I’m am so going to implement this – especially the popsicle stick idea!
    Katie M.

  8. this is so brilliant that i want to bookmark it until i have kids. :)

  9. Melissa Dawes says:

    I love what you did! I was starting to feel that I was the only mother out there that makes her family live by the goals and chores clipboards. We always had the chores in place, but we decided that chores were not enough for family direction. We all sat down one night and came up with our own 5 goals to work on, then 5 family goals. Each person decorated their own clipboard and they now hang in the hallway near our bedrooms. Once we feel one of those goals have become a part of our everyday life and we do not need a checklist to remember them,then that goal comes off the list and a new one goes on. We will never have more than 5 goals at a time.

  10. I just LOVE this idea!! I think this will really help me with my 3 energetic boys. Summer is always hard for me. I can’t wait to put this into action. DH is getting me clipboards on his way home from work. I’m excited YAY! THANK YOU STACY!!!!!

  11. Organization makes me so happy :) This is one happy post.
    I need to do something like this, but for myself. I find I laze my summer days (I’m a teacher) away doing random things and then it gets to the end of summer and I am like crazy trying to squeeze things in.
    What a great way to “schedule” some of the projects I want to get done around the house :) And of course the fun stuff too!! :)

  12. me again :)
    Can you give us some ideas of what jobs you put on the popsicle sticks? My boys are 4, 5 and 8. I don’t want to give them jobs that are too hard. I’d love to know what your jobs are. Thanks :)

  13. What a great idea with the mini clip boards & Popsicle sticks! I only have 2, but man do they need more organization. I think I may have to adopt something like this.

  14. Thanks for sharing your organization and parenting helps. I appreciate it when you share those things. You seem like such a good person & good mom. It’s great to learn from you. I also appreciated you sharing your running playlist a few weeks back.
    :), Amy

  15. your summer fun calendar is super cute..i love the idea and the look-tfs!

  16. Kat (Lovebug Kat - the chatty one) says:

    I think that is an awesome plan and I intend to do that too, thanks Stacy.
    I only have 3 kids and it gets so busy with playdates etc, this should make a much more relaxing summer for me!

  17. First time to your blog. Glad I checked it out…What a brillant plan!! I am going to implement this for my daughter.

  18. Yahooooooo. I’ve been making charts and trying to use “incentive squares” (from learning stores/teacher supplies) but they don’t fit the bill! I just love this and I am COPYing it immediately. Please post your school year clipboard ideas as the summer comes to an end! thanks again. mary

  19. This is AWESOME! I have 4 kids, 2 of whom are heavily into sports, 1 with a job, and 1 volunteering at our zoo, so organization is key! We do implement a chore chart, but the “fun” stuff doesn’t always seem to get done – now that it’s going to be written down, I’ll bet it does! Thanks, Stacy!

  20. Cortney says:

    This is so awesome. How refreshing to see that there are still Mom’s out there who let kids have responsibility, and expectations. As the eldest of four kids, I fully apprecaiate your organizing plan! Keep up the good work, and great ideas!!

  21. love this! I am all for structure (with flexibility), especially for summer so things don’t get so “loosy-goosy” that you about pull your hair out in the fall trying to get back to a regular school-year routine!

  22. Deirdre says:

    I don’t “really” know you, but I LOVE YOU! Thank you for sharing this—so perfect. And I love the reinforcement that, no, that don’t need a playdate every day (that’s why they have siblings!).
    Of course, I still want to see those popsicle sticks though—I know my oldest will love that.

  23. LOVE these ideas! & our summer is just beginning, so I’m totally going to copy that fab summer fun chart… Thanks, Stacy! :)

  24. Hi Buddy. Love this idea and agree with you 100%. 5 kids. You do need a balance. As you know it’s just John and I at home and I’m going to make a summer fun clipboard. Even as adults we get bored. What a better way to have a great summer and then a great summer album. You’re the best!

  25. I’m a scheduler too and I love your clipboard idea for the kids. I’m going to have to do that with my 4. Our current system isn’t working very well. Thanks for the idea!

  26. Oh my…. OH MY…. I should not be this excited I am sure, but THANK YOU.

  27. Oh I’m SOOOO incorporating some of these great organizational ideas into our home! Brilliant, I say!

  28. Yes! please post the examples of the school one! would love to see the other boys as well. Could you tell us what is on all of our popsicle sticks. What a great idea! You rock!!! please share more!

  29. Thanks for the great popsicle stick chore tip! My 3 girls and I just finished making ours! They had such fun and were so ambitious in undertaking their chores! This is great! (I think I may even have to do a few sticks for myself! for those dreaded chores I always put off :) ) Have a great day!
    Tracy in MA

  30. Brilliant! That’s all I can say! Absolutely brilliant, off to find some clipboards and go through my stash of paper to do these for my girls!!!!!!!

  31. Melissa Kaiserman says:

    Ah, you’re such a kindred spirit… Thanks for doing the hard work already so that we all can just copy you and modify to fit our families! :)

  32. I FREAKIN LOVE this
    how AWESOME

  33. I LOVE this idea! I also love to be organized and yet somehow each summer we end up saying.. oh, wish we had done this/gone there! Not this summer! Thanks for sharing!

  34. This is the best! Now, I want more…all the information that everyone asked for and much more! Please share it all! You have helped many homes!!!

  35. Stacey I think that your ideas are just amazing and inspiring…

  36. Stacy- Please prepare a couple of extra clipboards and chore sticks because I’m sending my boys to your house for the summer.
    PS. Don’t let Geof know that I’m reading your blog or I’ll have to turn in my Man Card.

  37. LOVE the summer fun chart idea! Thanks yet again for cool inspiration! :)

  38. ok. wow!!! i would love to be like you when i grow up:)

  39. Brilliant ideas! I am so using them when my kids get older.
    I passed this blog link to my sister in law who has 4 kids to entertain all summer long.
    Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  40. these are GREAT ideas. I’m a planner and organizer too. Thanks for sharing!

  41. kat-in-texas says:

    Thanks, Stacy! I’m not a planner/organizer so that information is like a gold nugget to me! Our kids behave better when they know our expectations and that’s a great way to show them! Love it!!!

  42. Rebecca Bollman says:

    You are brillant! And I am more and more certain of this every time I hear you speak, visit here, or read SS. Wow.
    Is it okay to borrow these ideas? We start summer Friday and these would make our short two months so much more enjoyable. My brain would never come up with such a lovely, simple and organized way of planning it all. Have I said wow already?
    Thank you for being in my world Stacey. You inspire me and brighten my day.

  43. Hi Stacy! I love these ideas.
    I also have to ask your permission to use a picture of you on a layout that has been requested for publication. Please email me. Thanks!

  44. sue rood says:

    As a mother of 5 grown kids, I’m happy to see someone else who knows that you have to be very organized when you have that many or total chaos reigns. When I went back to work (my youngest was a year old) it took me about a year to figure out the logistics of working and coming home to children and their needs/activities. We had a large color-coded calendar and it saved our lives! Way to be!

  45. Hey Stacy,
    I couldn’t figure out how to email you either! LOL! You can email me at and I’ll send you a copy of the layout for you to see.

  46. Hi Stacy! I love your clipboard ideas. I especially love how you’ve incorporated “fun stuff” in there too, to keep it positive! I don’t have any kids yet but what a great idea to keep in mind for the future.
    I was at Apropos this week and saw that you are teaching there… I was so excited and there was 1 slot left! Unfortunately that was when I realized that I am going to be out of town. Bummer!!!! I hope you’ll teach another local class sometime soon!!

  47. Do you mind listing the chores that you use daily and those that the kids pick on Monday for weekly chores?

  48. Stacy, I love that clipboard idea and the popsicle sticks are great, too. I wonder if you can share a sample of your school year clipboards? Thank you!

  49. LOVE THIS!!! Stacy, thank you for sharing…it’s been said before but bears repeating…you are sheer genius! I spent a few HAPPY hours today taking our freshly written ‘summer to-do’ list and putting it onto the great layout idea to hang in our mudroom–love it! My dd (7) is beside herself with the mini clipboard & our ‘typical day’ schedule I made to match (something we hammered out together for the summer). DS (10) is at camp but this is going to be fantastic for him, too–cuter than our usual dry-erase checklists! THANK YOU for sharing!

  50. lisa slocombe says:

    what really great ideas. i love richard & linda eyre’s books for a lot of how-to’s on keeping the family organized, running and together. your jobs for the kids looks alot like what they teach as well. have you read their stuff?
    anyway, i’m just wondering how and when your kidlets use the clipboards… do they keep them somewhere specific, and are they on clipboards so they can take them as they go?
    thanks, you’re so awesome! i regularly check in at your blog (and love your big picture book) and it always lifts me!! have a great day!!

  51. Stacy you are my hero. I love each and every one of those ideas and am copying them all. Fabulous! Just fabulous! So what are the odds that my husband would agree to a clipboard of his own? Hmmmmm. I’m thinking slim to none. However, one can always hope. :)

  52. Margaret says:

    I loved the mini clipboard idea. I was wondering how you attached the paper to the clipboard? Any tips on that?
    Thanks! Margaret

  53. Margaret says:

    Also…Please post your school year clipboard ideas!!!

  54. I love these ideas! I need to bookmark this or write it down somewhere to keep until my daughter is older. Glad I found this site. Thank you!

  55. I love your ideas for getting the kids to do their share around the house… I’m a planner to.. so I could get this far… it’s my follow-through that lacks! yikes

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