“I have two new ideas for our Summer Bucket List,” I told my 9-year-old as soon as she flopped on the couch. Her face lit with interest in the early dawn light as I scooted over to make room, pulled her into my side and shifted a fuzzy blanket to cover us both.
“What are they?” she asked.
I paused for dramatic effect.
“Number one: Make your own soda pop. Number two: Bad Manners Tea Party.”
“What?!” she asked, small face reflecting glee.
“Well, I found a recipe for soda—it looks pretty easy, actually—and that way you can pick your own flavor,” I said.
“Ooh, yum,” she said. “What’s a Bad Manners Tea Party?”
I explained that it starts out like a regular tea party, complete with fancy dresses and good manners, but partway through we’ll holler out, “Switch!” At that point, we’ll put our feet up on the table and let silliness reign. Then we’ll yell “switch” again and go back to our proper party.
Satisfied with the explanation, the two of us began to dream up other items for our Summer Bucket List. Each year, we write out a list of events and activities, post the list on our refrigerator, and work our way through the items. It’s a great way to keep kids occupied and create lasting family memories.
Want to create your own list to combat kids’ boredom? Here are five steps to creating a Summer Bucket List of your own:
1. First, print a list.
Begin by choosing either a preprinted list or one that allows you to fill in the blanks. Simply type “summer bucket list” in your search engine and click over to the images tab for countless options.
2. Ask for suggestions.
Begin by garnering ideas from your partner and kids, as they are more likely to be excited about ideas they suggested—like eating ice cream for dinner, visiting a special park, or taking a trip to the children’s museum. Another great resource is the “hive mind” of social media; I’ve implemented many ideas from online friends.
3. Become a tourist in your own state.
Though I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life, there are still many attractions I’ve yet to visit. Start by considering these questions: What is your state or city famous for? What festivals, food, or sites in nature are don’t-miss items? Pretend like you are a tourist in your own state. Comb through the local community education catalog or search online at state tourism sites to see what you might be missing.
4. Solidify the list by writing down your ideas.
Our list typically includes repeat favorites (visiting the state’s largest candy store, eating breakfast in bed, and “backwards day”—where everything, including meals, are backward), easy things we can do at home (a new craft project, making popsicles or root beer floats, having a water balloon fight, and completing a scavenger hunt), outings that are day trips or require a bit more planning (staying overnight at a hotel, taking a trip to Teddy Bear Park to play on a massively scaled teddy bear playground, dining at restaurants we love for Favorite Foods Day), and more.
5. Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself.
A Summer Bucket List should be fun! It’s okay to not get to everything on your list or to use shortcuts when needed. (For instance, instead of making my own scavenger or treasure hunts, I always search online for free printable lists and clues.)
The truth is, we never check every item off the list. In fact, I don’t even plan on it—my goal is to complete about 70 percent of the list. But for us, it’s become an annual tradition that gives us something to look forward to throughout the summer and creates memories we can look back on later.
A career in journalism set Kristin Demery up to publish her own stories of living this wild, precious life. She now is an author of five truth-telling books, including the latest 100 Days of Kindness, and part of a trio of writers collectively known as The Ruth Experience. Kristin served as a newspaper and magazine editor and her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including USA Today. She still works behind-the-scenes as an editor for others while writing her own series on kindness, friendship, and living with intention. Find more from Kristin at theruthexperience.com.