How to Plan a Family Escape From Your Home

Everyone has at least one friend who is always doing all the cool stuff with her kids. You know the one… she has the scoop on the when to pounce on tickets for Disney on Ice. She discovered a secret beach where you can dig up shark teeth with the kids. She knows which fall festival has the best hayride with the shortest wait. Week after week, you like her pictures on Facebook or Instagram, envious of her energy, her organization, her motivation to get out of the house! She plans the best family adventures and you know her calendar is always full of fun family activities.

Well, guess what? I am that Mom. I love to plan– parties, events, outings, trips. Nothing gets my heart racing more than discovering something fun to do with Sweet Pea. I have been accused of perhaps ‘doing too much.’ Well, yeah… probably. However, just as often, my Mom friends remark, ‘I don’t know how you do it all!’ 

So, here it is. These tips are my foolproof system for planning fun activities for your family. If you want to ensure your family calendar is full of adventure.. but not so full that you are overwhelmed, check out these 10 tips for how to break out of your rut and have some family fun!

How to Plan for family fun

10 Tips for How to Plan Fun Family Activities

  1. Pull out a calendar for the timeframe you want to plan for. If you can print out a hard copy to write on, that is actually ideal. I would suggest planning as far in advance as possible. At a minimum, you should plan for at least a month. The true benefit to this system comes when you plan for an entire season (3-6 months out). Why? Because taking a longer view of your family obligations and bucket list items will ensure your calendar doesn’t get too crowded, builds in flexibility, and gives you a better shot at doing the fun things your family most wants to do.
  2. Pencil in all your family’s already scheduled obligations:
    • Birthday parties (if you know a ‘can’t miss’ birthday party is coming up, you can ping the parents in a non-pushy way and ask when they are planning the party.. so you don’t miss it!).
    • Sports practices and games
    • Church events
    • Out of town guest visits
    • Planned travel/vacations
  3. Take stock of your family’s personality needs, family rhythms, etc…
    • Do you have kids that need a nap?
    • When do you need to go grocery shopping? Do laundry?
    • What is your budget?
    • What balance to you want to have between scheduled activities and free play?
    • What are your kid’s bedtimes?
    • Are there any special adult only events coming up? (date nights, Mom or Dad night out, book club?)
    • What are the pockets of time that you have?

how to plan for family fun

Once you have finished steps #2 and #3, you have your framework. You could call it your Framework for Fun! 🙂

Next, you get to add all of the fun stuff!

  1. Research! Get on the internet and search on Google, or even Facebook for when and where the best adventures are happening!
    • Seasonal (fall festivals, Christmas lights, Easter egg rolls, strawberry picking season)
    • Special events for the local area (special parades, annual events, etc..)
    • Special events for a particular venue (when does the science center have messy play day? When does the zoo open early so you can get close to the animals?)
    • Major special events (Is there something that is happening only once? Or maybe only once a year?)
    • Brainstorm a mix of activities:
      • Parks and playgrounds
      • Museums
      • Nature Centers
      • Fairs and festivals
      • Day-long trips
      • Easy and quick trips (1-2 hours)
      • 1/2 day trips
      • City stuff
      • Amusement parks
      • Outdoor activities
      • Indoor activities
  1. Create your Bucket List of Family Fun activities and prioritize!
    • Involve the entire family in this process. Take into consideration the needs and desires of everyone in your family.
    • Definitely prioritize the activities. If there is something that is a ‘can’t miss’ event, you want to make sure you don’t miss it!
  2. Plug the prioritized list of activities into your family fun calendar.
    • Don’t overschedule or try to fit everything in (it isn’t going to happen).
  3. Build in flexibility for your schedule. Some activities are ‘plug and play’—you can easily plug them in anywhere. Some activities only occur once a year or a season. Be mindful of that distinction.
    • Have back up days for the really important things.
    • What happens if someone gets sick?
    • What if it rains? What can be shifted around?
    • What if something comes up at the last minute? How do you fit those opportunities in?
  4. Build in Downtime:
    • Weekly downtime
    • Monthly downtime. Try to have at least one weekend where you are not that busy. That doesn’t mean you can’t schedule anything. If just means that not every weekend can be a trip to Six Flags.
  5. Consider creating more special days. If you are willing/able to flex your work schedule to take some time off during the week, you can really boost your family fun plan. I try to build in time during the week (when it is less crowded) to do things like:
    • Strawberry picking
    • Checking out the tulip fields or sunflower fields
    • Doing something special like going to a special beach or amusement park
  6. Divide and conquer—you don’t have to all go to everything as a family. Let Mom or Dad have a little extra quiet time and bring another responsible adult along. There are many times I will bring Sweet Pea’s Auntie instead of Dad. That seems to be a win-win for everyone!

how to plan for family fun

Sample Monthly Fun Activity Calendar:

Are you still stumped? Overwhelmed? Looking for a little inspiration or direction? This is a really basic framework for fun, but it might be just what you need to get organized. Also, it is so simple you could seriously plan out next month’s family fun on the back of an envelope. So, why not give it a try now?

Weekend #1:
Friday Night- Date night (low key)
Saturday: Day Trip! Leave house no later than 830AM and get home around 5PM
Saturday Night: low key
Sunday afternoon: low key, free play, errands and grocery shopping

Weekend #2:
Friday Night- Family Movie Night
Saturday: Local Area event or attraction. Leave house around 930AM and be back by 2PM. Quiet time or free play until dinner time.
Saturday Night: Mom or Dad’s night out!
Sunday afternoon: Go to a local park or playground for an hour or so

Weekend #3:
Friday Night- Date Night Out (get a babysitter)
Saturday: sleep in, lazy morning. Birthday party in the afternoon.
Saturday Night: Family Fun Night
Sunday afternoon: go to a museum or nature center for a few hours in the afternoon

Weekend #4:
Friday Night- Mom or Dad’s night out!
Saturday: Soccer Game in the morning. Local area event or attraction. Leave house around 11AM and be back around dinner time.
Saturday Night: low key
Sunday afternoon: free play, or maybe a craft day or playdate.

And there you have it! So, next time you see that envy-inducing picture of your friend standing in front of the new Panda bear, don’t fret… plan! Plan your own family fun days and before you know it, you will be the one giving out tips as well!

Thanks for reading!

Thank you so much for stopping by Sunshine Whispers today. Would you like for tips for fun things to do with your kids, along with a side of faithful inspiration? Don’t forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!


In the meantime, check out these family friendly day trip ideas in the DC-Baltimore area:

Maryland Science Center

Fun Things to Do With Kids in Baltimore: Maryland Science Center

Clark’s Elioak Farm

clarks farm 20

National Zoo

fun things to do with kids in DC: The national zoo

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing! My wife and I have worked a lot, so we want to spend this weekend together.This article is a real help, and my favourite part is about looking for special events on Google or even Facebook. I’ll definitely this useful information in order to organize everything properly for our free time.