Summer Idea Sprouts

Organizing Your Summer, Part 2

The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126:3

Last May, I posted about the Live it Up summer initiative. The Uptons tried an ambitious plan to Use it Up, Eat it Up, Play it Up, Read it Up, Watch it Up, and Trip it Up. You can read more about it here, but basically we determined to enjoy the summer by enjoying the things we already had!

If you’re wondering, it went really well. We didn’t do everything I’d planned, but we did an awful lot of it and I’ve never been so contented with a summer of fun. We played with more, tried more things, and used up more of our stuff than we ever have before. Getting organized about our family’s summer was wonderful!


This year, though, I wanted to try a simpler endeavor. I’d seen a lot of summer bucket lists and decided to do something similar, but with even less pressure. I didn’t want to make another list of things to get done (we just did that!).

Also, I didn’t want to include things we were going to do anyway. Lots of summer bucket lists I saw included things like “go to the pool” or “go to the library”. Quite frankly, we’re going to do those things anyway, and it’s not like I want a check on the list—or ping in the bucket—for them. They would make my list seem less special somehow.

(Note: If you’re doing a classic summer bucket list with “go to the pool” as your first endeavor, that’s great! We’re all different, and we’re all doing what’s best for our families. I’m just explaining my thought process so you can see how my Idea Sprouts are different, at least in my heart.)

There are plenty of things I think we’ll do, but that may get overlooked in the busyness of summer. They’re the things that tend to clutter my spirit as the first day of school approaches. They’re the things I want on my list of summer fun ideas.

This year I want a list of things to try on days or evenings or weekends when we don’t have a lot going on. I know these times will be fewer and farther between than I think they’ll be. But they will exist.

And this year, rather than using things we’ve had around, I want to try new things. (This may have to do with the fact that we’re not taking a family vacation this summer… and I will miss it.)


So, Idea Sprouts were born.


The idea originated with the Blessings Tree I’d made for my friend Sarah’s woodland-themed baby shower.  Each guest chose a paper leaf, wrote a blessing for Baby Taryn, and prayed as they tied it to the tree.


I have some décor left over from the shower, and I’m happy to use it again.


I have to say: I love this happy little bear and was looking for a reason to enjoy him again for a while. Bears are not in my décor norm, but I adore him.


Sticks are in plentiful supply around here in the spring, so gathering them was an easy task for my littles. I spent a happy afternoon punching tags out of different green papers and then gluing them together. Each printed sheet is backed with a solid one.


Then I created a list of things we’d like to do, wrote them on the tags, and hung them with twine.


Idea sprouts, done. And look how excited my littles were to see them! (Spencer, my teen, was also excited to see them, but in a more subtle way that rebutted photography.)


Just to give you a little inspiration, here’s our list of Idea Sprouts:

  • Family Bike Ride
  • Disney Movie Marathon
  • Sheet Tent!
  • Family Reading Night (with snacks)
  • Road Trip!
  • Bake Cookies, just because
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Meet Dad for lunch downtown
  • Try five ideas from Mom’s activity book
  • Record a fun answering machine message
  • Catch fireflies
  • Go out for breakfast
  • Upton Kid Theater: Any Bible story (may include cousins)
  • Fly Kites
  • Go on a picnic
  • Build Legos—a big set or set-up
  • Play with a new toy or craft (still unused from Christmas!)
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Host a party on the deck
  • Give a magic show
  • Go to Tom’s Ice Cream bowl
  • Try a new restaurant
  • Try a new ice cream place
  • Try a new pizza place
  • Complete a family puzzle
  • Name clouds while laying on the hammock
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Go fishing with Grandpa


Of course, if you decide to make Idea Sprouts, your family will have different ones! Here are some questions to help you create a list of Idea Sprouts that’s unique to your family:

  • What are some things we’d like to do this summer that I may forget?
  • What are some things we’d like to do this summer that we may run out of time for?
  • What are some fun ways that I can surprise my kids?
  • What’s something new we haven’t tried?
  • What are my kids old enough to do this summer that they weren’t before?
  • What’s something that I loved doing in the summers when I was a kid?


These questions can lead to all kinds of Idea Sprouts! The best thing about Idea Sprouts is that they’re no pressure—they’re just sprouts. Little buds of ideas that you may or may not do. They can wait until fall, or next summer. But they’re things to look forward to… and they’re there when you need them.


Take the Challenge:

Make your own Idea Sprouts! Your “tree” doesn’t have to look like mine. You could collect actual leaves and write your ideas on them with permanent marker. Or draw a tree on a piece of paper and write your ideas on drawn leaves. Keep it simple, keep it joyful—but get organized and determine to glorify the Lord with your summer!


Tell me about it:

What are your Idea Sprouts? How I’d love to hear them! Please shout them out here or on Facebook.


If you’d like more ideas about how to organize with kids, check out my second book, Building Your House.

And please do share this idea with other moms who would love to organize a fun, no-pressure summer!  Here’s a Pin-friendly image:

Join the Conversation on Facebook!

Thank You for Supporting Our Ministry!

Leave a Reply