Apps & SoftwareFamily TimeTravel

DailyBuzz Moms 9×9: Make the rest of summer as fun as all get out.

photo by maureen mckeown © 2012

It’s official. Summer is half over. So before it slips completely away, put down your glass of iced cold lemonade, place your right hand over your heart and repeat after me, “I pledge to make this one of the best, most memorable summers ever.”

Well done. Now let’s get started.

So you’ve done the picnic thing. Gone to the beach. Taken hikes, flown kites and gone swimming. Now it’s time to try something new like, say, horseback riding, kayaking, a pro baseball game or exploring a nearby town. Quite simply, it’s time to shake things up. Get out with the family. Get out with your hubby. Get away from your hubby and out with the girls. Or get away from it all with a mommy’s time out. So go on, get going. Let’s start by making some time.

1. Claim your days on your calendar.

What have you got? A day? A weekend? A week? Claim it on your calendar now or the “Time Bandit” will suck it away—I promise. In fact, I recommend your entire family share Google Calendars, so you can schedule and share events like “Our Much-Needed Weekend Getaway,” or “Not Available/Out with the Girls” or “Johnny: Take out the trash tomorrow at 8am” but that’s another blog post… Point being, in our household, if it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t get done. So….

2. Make a PLAN. Be adventurous and try something new.

Blue-sky an idea, then Google it into reality. Is there something you’ve been wanting to do? How about the kids? Make a list and circle two or three ideas, then put them on your Google calendar. Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning.

Play tourist in your local areaSummer is about being a kid again. Being creative, adventurous and exploring new ground. Pick a nearby town or even your own town, and Google “Things to do in [CITY NAME].” Search the city’s official website for recreation, events and places to stay. You’ll find a wealth of information including times and directions. Now go explore.

Stay somewhere you’d never imagined.
Sure, you can book a hotel room. But since we’re being adventurous, download the mobile app Airbnb and choose from a huge global network of ultra cool accommodations. You’ll feel right at home, because virtually you ARE in someone’s home. You can rent various styles of accommodations anywhere in the world, from an upscale treehouse to a chic loft in the heart of Paris. It’s worth exploring. Check it out.

Find a new adventure on a moment’s notice.
Sometimes the hardest part of doing something new is figuring out WHAT to do. Our family loves the mobile app Goby, where you can find loads of fun, listed by things to do, events, food and places to stay. If the weekend is around the corner, or if you’re away from home on business, just open the app and see what’s going on around you so you don’t miss a thing.

Collect travel ideas throughout the year and you’ll always be ready.
Add a new board to your Pinterest account called Travel. Whenever you find an interesting place or new thing to try, add a pin. You can create several boards naming them by location– a great way to gather information for your next trip. Or follow other boards and repin what you like.

Plan ahead. Play it safe.
If you’re going overseas, be sure to have back-up documentation with you, or at least have it accessible online. Scan all important documents into a digital format: tickets, passport, drivers license, insurance and medical cards. Or use your camera phone to capture them, front and back. You can attach these to an email you send to yourself, so you can access it from anywhere. Our family shares a dropbox folder which is available to all of us, synced on all of our devices.

Stay in touch with friends and family.
Whether you’re out with the girls or you’re out of state with the family, have everyone download the mobile app Find My Friends. It allows everyone in your party to track each other by using geo-location in case someone gets lost, or God forbid, something goes wrong. While you’re in the App store, also grab Find My iPhone and you can do the same thing if you lose your phone. Just enter your Apple ID and password to set it up. If/when you need to use it, open the app on any other iPhone, enter your ID and password, and you’ll thank your lucky stars.

3. Go. Do. Capture. Make. Share.

You’re on your way to your special day. Oh the things you will see. While you’re out and about, here are a few ways to find your way around town and document the rest of your sensational summer.

Tools to navigate, participate, and rejuvenate.
Go explore new territory using the mobile apps Yelp and Citisearch and you’ll feel like you have your own personal trip planner. At every turn you’ll find great food, places to stay, spas, shopping, gas stations and directions. It takes a load off planning each day, so you can relax and decide as you go.

Document your time together with a fun family project.
Decide beforehand on a project you’ll complete: a scrapbook, photo album, journal or movie. Assign roles to each family member such as photographer, navigator, historian and so forth. Collect things along the way like ticket stubs, postcards, maps, and brochures. Bring an empty scrapbook and each night, glue down items and write as you go. That’s doing it the old fashioned way…

Or take it up a notch and do it all digitally.
Use your camera phone with the mobile app iPhoto  that organizes your images into a beautiful photo journal. Download Animoto Video Maker and you can use those same photos to make a photo movie to post or email home to friends. Use Instagram and make your photos look extra coolio with an array of filters. When you get shots you really like, you can turn them into postcards, stickers, tiny books, ceramic tiles, iPhone cases, and a whole lot more with PrintstagramPostagram, Instagoodies, Casetegram  (make iPhone case) Imagesnap (print on tile to make coasters, mini magnets, wall art, etc..)

Don’t forget to send postcards
Staying in touch is easy, thanks to the internet. But nothing beats getting a bona fide postcard in the mail, written and personalized just for you. An easy way to show someone you’re thinking of them is with the mobile apps Redstamp, ShootIt, and Postagram. You select contacts from your mobile phone’s address book (so always keep it updated), add a personal message and photo, and it is printed and sent through regular mail. Voila. It’s great for vacations, but equally fabulous for sending personalized notes to say “Thank you for my kids birthday gift” (snap photo of kid holding gift), “Cocktails at our place August 30th”, “Thinking of you” (snap photo of place/thing in common), and in a pinch, “Merry Christmas”

4. Do more Grown-Up Playdates.

Just as important as spending time with our kids, we need time to catch up with each other and with ourselves. The better we take care of ourselves and our relationships, the better parents we will be.

Enroll your friends in playDATE night .
Don’t let the babysitter cost be your excuse to stay home. Team up with other Friends With Kids (FWKs) and create your own Circle of Sanity (COS). You agree to take turns hosting evening “playdates” for the kids (think movie night, sleepover, etc…) in exchange for grown-up “datenights”. Decide on the token of exchange. A penny. A sticker. Whatever you deem fit. The couple who gets to drop off their kids for an evening “playdate” gives the token to the overseeing parents to be later redeemed for their “datenight” out. Kids are happy. Everyone’s happy. *Word to the wise. Team up with parents whose kids you like.

Girls Night or Girls Weekend Out.
There’s nothing more fun then getting together with girlfriends for an evening or weekend. It rejuvenates the spirit, clears the mind and puts you back in touch with the same species. I suggest you plan at least two get-togethers before the end of summer. Go to a local beach or lake. Go out for drinks. Go camping. Go kayaking. Go dancing. (YES, dancing) or plan a themed picnic (e.g. “Yay America!”) where everyone brings something along the same theme. And remember, you’re never too old to make new friends. I’ve recently met an amazing group of entrepreneurial women in my area on Meet-up. We meet once a month and their friendships and guidance have been invaluable.

Explore New York City like a local.
I’m throwing this one in because it happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth. And thanks to technology, there are some very cool ways to find your way around town. Places like the Museum of Natural History now offers a free downloadable apps to navigate through the museum. Grand Central station has a guided walking tour with headsets. Download the app NYC Way, and get 48 apps in one. They’ll tell you everything from food cart locations and shows to see, to apartments for rent and streaming satellite traffic. And if you’re on a budget, stay at either Hotel 31 or the Bentley Hotel, both are nice, central to everything and far less expensive than the norm.

Well, that ought to keep you busy for awhile. Wherever your journey through summer takes you, remember to breathe in every wonderful scent, sound and ray of sunshine to carry you through to next season. Lots of love!!!

How will you  be celebrating the rest of summer? Please add your ideas to share will all us alpha moms.

Hanging out with the ladies, Satu, Anne, Stefanie & Charlotte for such much needed mommy-time out.
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  • Great suggestions on here! Love what you say about just doing it and not talking about doing it. Happy to be sharing the Daily Buzz Moms 9×9 spot with you! 🙂

    • Really appreciate it Ashley — from one Carolina girl to the next : ) Keep on writing/sharing/inspiring. Words make all the difference.

  • Thank you Maureen….for removing any excuses for not playing!!! You’ve done the hard part now I get to tap into the your wealth of knowledge and play in so many ways, in so many states and with so many people!!! Need to remember things are really within reach!

    • My pleasure! Hope you find some of this helpful. Yes, summer and life are just too short not to get out there and play. Just think of all the things we don’t even know about yet! xo

  • Thanks Maureen!! These ideas came in just when I felt like I needed some positive thinking – time bandit has been messing with our plans too and we haven’t organized a family day at the beach or still haven’t put the Mini golf evening with kids on the calendar. I will get to it Now! Love the picture by the way!

    • Hope it helps! I’m pretty sure you’re the Queen of making the most of downtime. I know you’ll come up with plenty of adventures!!! xo

  • These are amazing ideas! I’d never heard of Airnb or Goby. You made my summer!

  • Maureen, aren’t we (I know Karen would agree!) lucky to get some of your advice live? I am willing to join the FWK and let me know if you need more ‘hands’ with that cooking post!

    • : ) Definitely in the FWK. Which makes for many more much-need MTO (Mommy Time Outs. Yes! Would love some help with cooking post. I’m much better at geek stuff.

  • Love love love having the tech spin on everything! 🙂

  • Pamela Docters
    July 24, 2012 4:45 pm

    Great ideas! I like sending postcards — no one does it anymore, but people still like getting them! But you have to actually say something personal. You can even send one of your hometown, so friends and family far away get to see where you live!

    • I agree Pamela. Who doesn’t love getting a postcard? My fav is still ShootIt. Send it from anywhere in the world from a wi-fi connection, and they print and mail in the US, Europe and a few other countries. Overall cost is less than buying a real cookie-cutter postcard. xo

  • Thank you Maureen. I have never heard of most of these things! Redstamp? Brilliant! Now I won’t have to mail my postcards two weeks after I get home, like I usually do.

  • WOW ! Thanks Maureen 😀 These are such great Ideas. Definitely time to try something new.

  • Great ideas. Goby is a new one for me. Roadtrip? Google maps – search for splashpads and city fountains as you drive down the highway. Great way to break up the drive and burn some energy. Thanks Maureen.

    • Thanks Elizabeth. Love the Google maps idea — brilliant! Also Google Earth is so cool. If you told me ten years ago that kind of technology would exist, I would have bet against it. Amazing stuff really!

  • Thank you Thank you Thank you! I love the FWK idea. What a great way to have date night without having to pay a babysitter. Definitely taking you up on that idea!

    And the entrepreneurial group sounds awesome! Way to go!