The Summer Debrief

August 16, 2023

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Want to help Future You have a wonderful summer next year?

You likely learned lessons this summer about what worked for you and what didn’t – even if you (understandably) haven’t thought the lessons through.

Before we forget the lessons, let’s capture them – and remind Future Us of them around when we’ll start planning next summer.

Step 1

Calendar ~30 minutes to “Debrief summer – see Kelly Nolan post/article” within the next month

Step 2

During that time, broadly speaking, ask yourself:

  • What worked well this summer?
  • What didn’t?

You can dig into this more like this:

  • Before we dig into the specifics, how did this summer generally feel for you? Did you feel well-rested much of the time or exhausted most of the time? Did you have fun? Why?
  • Travel:
    • Did you like the type of trips you took?
    • The timing (early summer v. later)? Did the schedule work? Were they fun and relaxing (as possible given with kids)? Any changes to make for next year?
    • Why?
    • Did you like how much you traveled and how much you were home? Anything you want to differently next summer?
    • Did you book travel and hotels at a good time, or do you wish you’d booked earlier/later?
  • Kid-care:
    • If you have school-aged kids, what worked well this summer camp-wise and what didn’t? Did they like them? Did you?
  • Socializing:
    • Did you get to see enough of the people you love?
    • Did you get enough alone time?
    • Were you tired a lot of the summer?
    • Why (guessing is fine) – and what would you do differently (if relevant)?
  • Family adventures: Set aside the “should’s” here as I think Instagram/culture makes us think we should be creating special moments all the time with our kids. Focus on how YOU want to feel in a realistic way, and what that means for family adventures. In that headspace, did YOU enjoy what you did? Did they? What types of things might you try and skip next summer in light of this?
  • Work: Anything you would do differently here? Take off Fridays? Mondays? Half days? Say no to certain types of projects for the summer? Stop taking on more work in, e.g., May? We all have different levels of control over our work, so make this work for you – but push it a little where you can.
  • Back-to-school prep: Did you have enough time to prep for school this year? If you haven’t started yet, feel free to save this one. And for back-to-school prep tips, check out this guide.

Step 3

If you have a partner, have a conversation with them about these takeaways to get their input.

Step 4

Calendar a “Think about these as plan summer – SEE NOTES” for when you start thinking about summer (e.g., March? April? May?), and repeat it annually.

Put all of your lessons learned in the notes section of the calendar entry.

And that’s it!

While each summer can be different as kids age, we might as well try to keep the lessons that might make next summer (or the lead-up to summer) easier in a place where they’ll actually helps us next time around.

Enjoy this upcoming transition to fall, and here’s to a great next summer, too!

Handy other resources

If you have kids (and even if you don’t), the “Years are Short” spreadsheet is so handy. Learn all about it here.

In addition, also if you have kids, I have an article on my blog with tons of practical strategies on summer planning with kids. One of them is this step with more detail.

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