I just listened to a great podcast where they advised working moms to “plan for weekly adventures” — and I thought it might make a great discussion both on Corporette and here. How do YOU plan for weekly adventures for your family? How have the plans and adventures changed throughout your life — e.g., the singleton’s plan, the couple’s plans, the mom-of-small-kids plan, the mom-of-big-kids plan, the empty nester’s plan?
The podcast is one the readers turned me on to, Best of Both Worlds. If you’re not familiar with the podcast, it’s hosted by Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It and a mom of five, and Sarah Hart-Unger, a practicing physician, blogger, and mom of three. As Vanderkam’s website notes, they discuss “work/life balance, career development, parenting, time management, productivity, and making time for fun.”
The April 11, 2023 episode features Rachana Shah, a pediatric endocrinologist, talking about the rule she came up with during the pandemic: to plan for one big adventure (taking a few hours) and one little adventure, taking just an hour or so.
(If you don’t have time for the entire podcast, you can just check out this 3 minute YouTube video — she describes how some of her little adventures were checking out a new local swimming pool, checking out a new coffee shop, or more — and a lot of her bigger adventures were things like camping, which was totally new to her family.)
This is definitely something I’ve always struggled with — I have to fight my urges to nest or to work.
Readers, how about you: when you think about little and big weekly adventures, what do you think about? What do you when you’re in a rut? How have the adventures changed over the seasons of your life?
How I’ve Planned Weekly Adventures Throughout My Life
My Single Years
I was basically single until I met my husband at age 30, so I had a lot of time with just myself to plan weekly adventures. I distinctly remember that during my law school years I worked pretty much non-step, but forced myself to take Friday afternoons and evenings off. Most of my good friends from law school were in my study groups or other places I spent a lot of time, like law review, so I wasn’t too stressed about being social — instead I would generally just go shopping, rotating through a few different spots (e.g., the fancy mall, the outlet mall, the discount stores like TJ Maxx, etc). The time to myself to not think about anything legal — and just walk around and touch pretty clothes — was priceless at that point in my life.
During my law firm years, I was also working a lot, and often continued to work on the weekends. (I think I’ve written about how I considered going to the office on Sunday to be a “super Monday” because I could get so much done.) Unlike in law school, I didn’t feel like I was necessarily always working with good friends, so I tried to make plans for Friday and Saturday night ahead of time to see friends, which usually involved picking out a new restaurant, a bar, or going to a play or gallery or something like that.
(Looking back, I really wish I’d been more adventurous with exercise in particular — trying out a new kind of exercise class (cardio drum! aerial yoga!) or activity every weekend would have been great.)
My Coupled Years
When I met my husband, we still loved to check out new restaurants and bars, but we also started to cook a lot more and start to do more couple-y type things like date nights with friends — it worked out well that some of my best girlfriends met their future husbands around the same time.
Years with Young Kids
When my first son was born that changed things up significantly — we often would bring him with us to new restaurants (and we’d delight in watching him try new things) — but other things started to enter the mix: checking out the new pop-up pool, a new playground or splashground, going to one of the more kid-friendly museums, zoo or aquarium, etc. Oftentimes family came along, or we would meet friends with small kids to join us in the activities.
I generally was good about planning for family adventures like this up until the pandemic came along (whee) — we were/are some of the most COVID-cautious people we know (primarily to help protect some family members), so that urge to spend the weekends nesting in our pajamas, with screens, really became a bit of a rut for us!
Since we’ve been back out there, we’ve been trying to take little adventures like trying new types of foods, going to local exhibits or kid-friendly outings, and more. Some of them are total stinkers where we say, “huh, well, we tried it,” and others are hits that even introduce us to new favorite activities.
My Top Tips on Planning Adventures
You’ve Got to Plan It
As is probably obvious from above, I’m not the greatest at this — but I will say that if I’ve learned anything, it’s that spontaneity does NOT work for me and adventures. (There was that time I spontaneously took my 4 year old on a helicopter ride, but, ah, I’m not sure that’s the best example .)
For me, now is the time to think about what adventures we want over the summer — things like kayaking, seeing exhibits, boating — that can all be planned well in advance because we’re generally bound by availability and/or required to have a reservation.
The things I struggle with are things where we say, “ah, let’s go on a hike somewhere new!” or “let’s check out a new-to-us area of town!” — anything that requires research often devolves into us not going at all.
My Spreadsheet Idea
(It’s always a great day for a spreadsheet, am I right?)
Something I’m going to try this summer is to put a bunch of ideas (from all of us!) on a spreadsheet, print them out and cut them up into little pieces, and then put them in a jar, so we can pick one out every weekend. Including different places to check out that might fall to the wayside if left to spontaneity (such as hiking or exploring or whatnot).
(I think I’ll have to have one jar for winter activities and one for summer… hmmn.)
Readers, how about you: when you think about little and big weekly adventures, what do you think about? What do you when you’re in a rut? How have the adventures changed over the seasons of your life? (Who in your household is usually the one to plan said adventures?)
Stock photo via Stencil.
With older kids adventures pretty much go out the window, unless you define “adventure” as “watching four performances of the same play in one weekend” or “spending the entire day driving to and from the gymnastics meet and sitting through the 3.5-hour session and 45-minute awards ceremony to see your kid do gymnastics for a total of approximately 4 minutes” or “driving 500 miles round-trip in one day to drop your child off at sleepaway camp.”
Similar to the spreadsheet idea, my husband and I keep a shared note on our phone with a running list of restaurants we want to try and list of activities we want to do with the kids – parks, museums, ice cream spots, etc. Our kids are still on the young side and our weekend structure goes something like kid focused activity in the morning – park, zoo, museum or play date/bday party/sports and then in the afternoon we might hit a brewery or a new restaurant in the afternoon – something that is more for the parents. These “small” adventures don’t take as much planning and it’s nice having the list to return to when you are thinking of ideas.
I use Things3 to organize lists like this, but I’m not sure I can share it. I keep track of shows and movies we want to watch, books we want to read, places we want to travel, etc. I also track work and home projects on it. I like the lists within lists format that can be broken up by projects.
I only have one kid and I think age 3-4 was peak “local family adventures” for us. Before that, my kid was too young to get much out of it, and then there was a pandemic. There was about a year from post-vax 2021 to mid-2022 when we probably did something like the local kid’s museum or zoo near weekly and went to one of the nearby big cities for a more exciting museum about once a month. But now at age 5 our weekends are busier with class birthday parties, play dates and activities. I have an extroverted only child who really thrives on time with other kids, plus we travel a lot and get our family time in that way, so we generally prioritize our kids’ social invites and activities when we’re in town.
I will say that we have a few sort of standing things that we do every year, and planning is low effort because we go to the same place ever year: strawberry picking on Memorial Day weekend, Lake Michigan beach day with friends and a local waterpark over the summer, apple picking and pumpkin patch in the fall, holiday lights at Christmas time, etc. but doing these things weekly or even monthly would be too much for me. I think it probably averages to every couple of months.
I love this! Will have to listen to the podcast. When I was a child I would have loved to have an adventure every weekend, or at least go to the zoo or aquarium once in a while, but planning kid-centric activities was a foreign concept to my immigrant parents. I disagree with Hunt Gather Parent on this.
DH always prefers staying home on weekends so he can do yard work. That probably means I should just plan these weekend outings for DS and I.
I think age 4 was peak for local/weekly family adventures. Then there was the pandemic, and being home made me realize how much my son thrives with weekend downtime. Now, I try to plan 3-4 weekend trips each year, within 2-5 hours’ driving distance. Our local adventures are more like once per month than weekly.