Planning for vacation. Clipboard included.

My kids function better when they know the day will have structure.

Anna Burgess Yang
2 min readAug 4, 2021


A blue clipboard with a red background, pop art
Image created via Midjourney

Every year, we take a family vacation right before the school year begins. It always works out — my kids attend a day camp for most of the summer and the camp shuts down a week before school starts so there is always a “gap” where we have no child care. Rather than wrangle the kids and their excitement right before school starts and juggle working, we take the week off and go somewhere new every year.

My trips got more ambitious every year. It started with a short road trip to Door County, Wisconsin. Then a multi-state driving trip to St. Louis, Nashville, and Memphis. Then… pandemic. We still managed to take a short trip to Galena, Illinois because it was a trip we felt we could safely make, not far from our home in the Chicago suburbs.

This year, we are headed to Minneapolis to visit my sister and brother-in-law, with some stops in Wisconsin along the way. My 9-year-old has been asking for about a week now, “Has the trip been planned out yet?”

After one of our first trips (even before we started these more elaborate summer vacations), I got tired of answering the question, “What are we doing next?” My kids have structured days at home, including “quiet time” and specific screen time. Being thrown off of their routine caused meltdowns.

And so, for the next trip, I printed out a schedule of the day’s activities. Hour by hour, including when breaks and screen time would occur. I kept the schedule on a clipboard.

My two older kids asked to see the schedule so much that I got more clipboards and printed out multiple copies, so they could each have their own. My middle child would cross off activities as they were completed.

It sounds like we’re not spontaneous. We’re kind of not… if things came up that changed our planned activities, I would inform the kids with as much advance notice as I could provide.

But what we give up in spontaneity, we gain in happier kids on the trip. They don’t melt down or argue (like about when screen time will occur). They can see that our days are broken up by breaks, and know if we plan to eat lunch at a restaurant on any particular day or if we’re going back to the Airbnb to eat.

It works for us. So with three days to go until we leave for our trip, I need to wrap up the daily agenda in my Google doc and get it printed. The clipboards await.



Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur with niche expertise. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. •