Do you ever wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and while making the kids breakfast, scroll through Facebook and Instagram? If so, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with images of every.other.family. getting out there and making memories on their weekend adventures. First FOMO sets in. Then Mom Guilt takes over because your kids are still in their pajamas while everyone else’s are out for a day of play. Then you may become determined to get the kids out of the house and make your own adventure. But maybe tickets to that event you’re seeing all over social media sold out months ago, or it’s already too late in the day to get to your destination without hitting major traffic.
It can be challenging being a military spouse and planning for future events. If you tend to be a Type A personality, you may get frustrated by your lack of ability to plan fun adventures for your family. You never know if your active duty spouse will be called in at the last minute to stand duty or fly off to attend some school or training. But if you learn to plan for adventure in a more flexible way, you can still achieve all your family fun time goals for the year.
Rather than write each activity I want to do as a family on a specific day each month, crossing my fingers that it will actually work out, I simply make a list of 12 activities I want to do for the year. One a month is a realistic number for my family with 2 kids under 3 and an AD spouse. These are local (within about 2 hours drive, doable for day trips) places and events that I’ve collected on my bucket list since I found out we’d be PCSing to Southern California. (TIP: why not start bucket lists for places you dream of being stationed one day?)
Right around the new year, I spent a few hours searching all over social media for my chosen 12 activities, checking out pictures and reviews to make sure they were good for my little kids and worth our time and money as a family.
Limiting our adventures to one per month is actually quite freeing. It allows me to also really enjoy our quiet weekends at home. I appreciate the slow, undisturbed weekends of Costco runs and after dinner walks to the playground when I know we have “bigger” adventures coming up.
I write out the key information about each of my adventures (dates, estimated cost, address, and where to find more information). This helps me save time later on in the year when it’s time to plan out the details. It also helps me stay focused and avoid spending too much time on social media, another goal for the year. Some of my selected 12 activities are seasonal, like the Carlsbad Flower Fields, so I know that activity needs to fall within a window of approximately 2.5 months.
Other activities, like Balboa Park Organ Concerts, happen every week, so I know I can use that activity for any month of the year, and it won’t require much planning.
Some adventures require advanced reservations, like camping (most state and national parks let you reserve a camp spot 6 months in advance, and they fill quickly). For that type of adventure, I get a hard date set as early as possible once I find a window that fits my spouse’s schedule (like during post-deployment leave when we are guaranteed time off).
Some of the chosen activities are ones that I can do alone with my kids, for those times when training or work trips take my spouse away without much notice.
Every few months, I pick the next three activities, and schedule them on the exact date.
By having a flexible, yearlong list of activities, I’m setting myself up for a fun and productive year, avoiding FOMO because I know I have great adventures just around the corner. What are your adventure plans for 2018?