Summer vacation
Photo: Creatas/Thinkstock
I know the whole point of summer vacations is not to have a to-do list, to allow adventure to happen over your week or 10 days of hard-earned leisure time. But, let's face it, I am mom who has spent the past 15 years with a constant running to-do list in order to get from morning until night. I operate best with a schedule. Without a to-do list, I feel untethered, and not in a good way. As my own mom always says, "Good planning makes good fun." So as I head off to the mountain for my two weeks of hiking, biking and some really bad golf, here's my Summer Vacation To-Do List.

1. Say Yes More Than No 
When you have kids, the most common phrases out of your mouth are "No," "I can't right now" or "Give me five minutes to finish this up, then we can try to do that." It's exhausting, managing your needs with your kids' wants. The best part about vacation to me is saying yes more than no. After 50 weeks of keeping my family on the straight-and-narrow to get through the grind of daily life, I've earned the freedom and they've earned the privilege of yes. So, yes to Monopoly. Yes to ice cream. Yes to staying up late.

2. Step Away from the Electronic Devices 
One of the drawbacks of technology that allows us to check our email anywhere is that now we all feel like we have to check our email everywhere, all the time, like on vacation. Then the emails become conference calls, which become full-blown workdays all when I'm supposed to be spending quality time with my children. I like to put strict limitations on my use of electronic devices, particularly in the first few days to break the cycle of connectivity. Then, I gradually let go altogether for full family fun.

Get ideas for fun-filled family activities.

3. Read, Read, Read 
Here's another activity that can get squeezed out in daily life when reading is considered a rare treat. But on vacation, nothing is better than putting aside the news for a few days and indulging in fiction instead of facts. I admit, I've never read The Pillars of the Earth, so that's what I am planning to start and finish in the next two weeks. Then, I'll be ready to watch that TV series my DVR is recording!

See what's on O's summer reading list.

4. Try Something New
I put this on almost every to-do list I write, because I believe in the power of new! Vacation is for relaxing, yes. But it's also for refreshing the spirit. So sign me up for something I haven't tried to push myself a little. This year: hot yoga.

What's on your to-do list for summer vacation? Leave your comments below. 

Lian Dolan is a mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, writer and talk show host. She writes and talks about her adventures in modern motherhood for her website,, and her weekly podcast, The Chaos Chronicles.