Column: Making the most of summer vacation


Commentary by Stephanie Sullivan

Despite my best attempts, I have not figured out how to slow down time. The reality is we only have five or so more summers before kids start heading off to college. Rather than trip haphazardly through June and July, I want to be more intentional about our precious summer months together as a family.

Recently I announced at the end of dinner that we were going to do a “fun little activity” to think about how we might spend summer break. There were some bewildered looks, a couple of groans, and one “Why do we always have to do stuff like this?” (For the record: We never do stuff like this.)

I handed everyone – parents included – a pad of sticky notes and a marker. Each person wrote one idea per sticky note of something they would like to do over break. Despite the early hesitation, soon the ideas were flowing. Even the most resistant kid jumped on board with suggestions of bike riding and camping.

One by one, we put our post-its on a big sheet of paper. Next we aligned ideas that were the same and talked about how we could combine several suggestions into one event (“Visit another state” while “visiting our friends Derek and Mary!”). We also discussed compromises: Two kids wanted to go to Kings Island while the other two wanted to go to Holiday World. In the end we agreed that we were OK with either option as long as we included an amusement park somewhere in our plan.

The whole activity took about 15 minutes, but we spent the rest of the evening in giddy anticipation of those sweet summer months. We can’t do it all, of course, but what we can do will be special because we planned it – together.

Stephanie Sullivan lives in Carmel with her much-beloved husband and four children. She is a self-proclaimed “Granola girl in high heels” who is as passionate about her work as a learning and development professional as she is about gardening, baking, environmentalism and thrifty upcycling. Reach her at


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