Maybe the best gardening advice that we ever received was this - spend your money on the part of your yard where you spend the most time, where you will see the fruits of your labor, where you will enjoy it. For many (including my family), this would be the back yard. And this advice was given because we were putting our dollars towards primping up the front of our first house - the section seen by guests and strangers alike, the section that is out there for all to see but (perhaps) untouchable and under-utilized to a degree.
I think of this advice every year when I'm budgeting. And then after I think of it for our yard, I think of it for our life. We're in our first week of summer and I've already heard so many regrets and worries from women in my community - and I always fret a bit too: Do we send our kids to too many camps? Do we send our kids to too few camps? Should we have joined the pool in our neighborhood? Should we have joined the pool closer to family? Is our traveling too frou frou? Is our traveling too local? Am I bad if I hate camping? Is it wrong that I don't want to fly? Should we be having more friends over? Are my kids getting enough "alone time"?
To these questions I say: Where is your back yard in all of your wonderings - where is the part of your family life that (maybe) needs to be tended, that brings you all the most joy, that feeds you, that you and your kids will remember the most? There's your answer - it's not in any conventional wisdom because there is no conventional wisdom that applies to all of us when it comes to summer plan making!
So take a minute to think about you and your family only. And then make a list of what you need and want. And then figure out your budget and what's realistic. And then (and only then) let the little voice that may still be talking in your head, come into the picture. Most likely, you'll have a clear plan for your summer, you'll be excited about it and you'll be taking care of what matters most.