Creating a System for Adventure: Monthly & Weekly Planning

by ChristinaPilkington on January 11, 2012 · 16 comments

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Over the past week I’ve written about how I plan for mini-adventures and trips throughout the year.  I first talked about how I created a Master List.  Then I talked about how I incorporate my master list into a dedicated Google Calendar.  If you haven’t read those posts, I’d suggest going back and reading them first.

Once you’ve created your Master List and filled out your calendar, you’ve done most of the work. 

The last step is the most fun…deciding which of the fun places you’ve read about you’re actually going to visit!

Step #3 Deciding Where You’d like to Visit Each Month

 At the beginning of the month, I look at the Google Calendar I made for listing all the trips, tours, classes, and workshop options we have for the next 30 or so days. Some of these days, like the trips I’ve set up with other homeschoolers or the ones I’ve sent in money for, are already set.

We only have one fixed commitment each week – swimming classes. As my kids grow older, I’d really like if it’s possible to keep our fixed weekly commitments to a minimum. In our family, we really do learn best and have a much better week if we can decide a week ahead of time what trips we’d like to commit to (unless they’re pretty big trips, of course).

I quickly scan through my List of Places with Free Days and check if there are any special exhibits or programs that month we would be interested in attending.

I also click through the links to most of the libraries, park districts or city/town websites to see if there are any special events that month.  I usually spend about a half hour doing this.

After I’ve added a few more things that sound interesting to my Google planning calendar, I’m ready to call in the kids.

So, I sit down with the kids and look through the things coming up in the next month. I ask them which things sound fun and interesting to them.

Then I tentatively schedule those mini-adventures into our permanent calendar. I try to make sure that we have at least one day a week where we stay at home. Our days doing activities at home, watching DVDs or reading together are just as important as exploring new places we’ve never seen before. Plus, the house gets pretty chaotic if I don’t put at least some time into cleaning, laundry, grocery planning and shopping each week J

Step #4 Planning Your Week

I don’t really make any real commitments to going places until a week before unless it’s for something I’ve already paid ahead of time (and I really try to limit those).

I look at the week on Sunday and look at those things that really have to get done like grocery shopping, swim lessons, my allergy shots, and things like that. I schedule in when I’d like to get them done and then look at the time we have left.

We tend to go out a little more than most families, but we usually wind up going on about three little mini-adventures a week, not including something on the weekend, too. You should do what is most comfortable and works for your entire family. Maybe it’s a few things each week, or maybe it’s one new thing every month. You have to do what is best for your situation.

One of the best ways for me to decide if we’re doing too much is to look at my calendar and think about how I’m feeling when I’m looking at it. If I start to feel tense or stressed out, than I know that we’re doing too much. I cut out as many things as I can until I feel more relaxed.

We sometimes have cycles where we go do different things every day of the week for two week straight and then we stay home for an entire week.

I guess I should mention one other little list I have too. It’s the…

What should we do now List?

 I actually have two of these lists. One is a big list of activities and things to do around the house. But the other list is for small fun things we can do close to home without driving more than 5 or 10 minutes. It includes things like

  • Favorite parks
  • Walks in nearby woods
  • Restaurants to visit

These are things you can do spontaneously with no planning at all. It’s for those times when you want to get out of the house for awhile. We usually know what we’d like to do, but sometimes we think of something fun to do that we don’t want to forget about, so we put it on this list.

So, that’s my system. I like having a lot of options available. It’s really fun to see all the wonderful opportunities there are in my area each month. It’s like going to the ice cream store and having a really hard time choosing just one flavor!

I think no matter where you live, you’ll find that there are many, many different ways you can explore your area, whether it’s a city or the country.

I believe that if your family is open to new experiences, is always on the lookout for new places to visit and things to do, than your kids will grow up learning so much and have a wide and varied knowledge base to draw on in the future – a life of rich and interesting connections that will bring them closer to realizing their unique purpose and what they’d like to accomplish in their lives.

Photo Credit: RougeSun Media

What new mini-adventures are you most excited about taking this coming year?

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  • Natalie

    Great post full of good ideas! Since we are a working family, our outings are limited to weekends. We usually try one big trip (more than an hour away) once a month and at least one shorter trip. The rest is reserved for friends and hanging out at home as a family.

    • Anonymous

      For both people working, that’s still a lot of adventures! I think most families only travel an hour or so away from their homes about twice a year.

  • The Homeschool Co-op

    I love how your system provides a way for such freedom. It’s similar to what I do – making lists, keeping options open, keeping fixed activities to a minimum… but you are much more organized about it. This week’s surprise mini-adventure, was visiting the snowy owl population that is wintering near here. A last-minute tip from a friend, that turned into an amazing day. I love having the freedom to be open to those things. Now, to take a page from your book and write down all of the possible activities that are always floating in my mind…

    • Anonymous

      That sounds like a wonderful mini-adventure! I find other homeschooling moms have so many suggestions, too, especially those moms with older kids. I love my I-Phone because I can always pull it out and write down trip ideas right away in my Notes section before I forget the idea.

  • HSofia

    What a great posting. My daughter is still pretty young but I started this calendar approach some months ago and it’s been working great. I love having a monthly overview and then every Sunday evening I review the week and pull things in/out if it looks like week is getting too weighted. I like to leave at least 2 days pretty open/unplanned because we are fairly introverted as a family.

    • Anonymous

      I’m so glad it’s working well for you. I like how I can have an overview plan yet never feel tied down to everything. I’ve been appreciating our days at home more and more lately, too.

  • Susan

    I also have really enjoyed this series! You are lucky to live in an area where there is so much available…there are things here, but much less.

    I completely agree that “One of the best ways for me to decide if we’re doing too much is to look at my calendar and think about how I’m feeling when I’m looking at it. If I start to feel tense or stressed out, than I know that we’re doing too much. I cut out as many things as I can until I feel more relaxed.” It’s no fun if there is too much going on. Honestly, we thrive on down time around here! :)

    • Anonymous

      That’s why interest-led learning is so great, I think. Families that love to stay at home more can, and those that are more explorerers at heart don’t have to feel like they need to be tied down to a curriculum.

      I think every country and area of the world has it positives and negatives. I think there’s often more than we realize in our own backyards. The offerings will look very different in different parts of the country, but I really think each area has a lot to offer.

      • Susan

        I really do agree about the idea that each area has a lot to offer…I love where we live! I meant that in terms of things like organized programs, science museums, even swim lessons, it’s not always easy to participate because there is such a drive for us.

        • Anonymous

          That is true. I do love that we are within fifteen minutes drive to downtown of a large city and also fifteen minutes drive to a farm. We’re right in the middle of everything.

  • Karen Terry Cagle

    I have so much loved these last 3 posts. I was thinking the other day that I wish your kids were older because then you would have so many great resources for me! ;) Selfish no? Honestly I love your site and all the great things you post here. I am still working on my list. I found a really cool website today that lists tons of resources for Alabama. I would have never found it if your post hadn’t inspired me.

    I agree with the ‘doing too much’. It isn’t fun when I am stressed out.

    • Anonymous

      I feel selfish a lot because my kids are so young so I have such an abundance of great blogs and sites to check out that give me such great ideas – not only for now, but to put on a list for the future, too!

  • Julie

    Chris, I really enjoyed reading this series. It is similar to what I do to find great things to do, but yours is more complete. I wrote a bit about this in my post about what unschooling is to me on my blog. There are so many great things to do, places to go, people to visit, but one has to do a little digging in order to get the most out of life. It is really hard to unschool if you never step outside your door. People often ask me how I know about “all this stuff.” I tell them that I do a lot of digging. Forest preserves, park districts, museums and more all have great stuff if people are willing to do a little digging. Thank you for sharing and pointing this out.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Julie! I agree so much with what you said. It’s not enough to just say you’ll watch and see what your kids with gravitate towards and give them more of that. We need to bring the world to our kids – in whatever way we can, and however much we can.


    “One of the best ways for me to decide if we’re doing too much is to look at my calendar and think about how I’m feeling when I’m looking at it. If I start to feel tense or stressed out, than I know that we’re doing too much. I cut out as many things as I can until I feel more relaxed.”

    I can’t imagine that being better said! Thank you for your wonderful advise on scheduling – Victoria

    • Anonymous


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