Making a summer bucket list has been a tradition in our family since our boys were two and four. This year marks our 5th Annual Summer Bucket List! We first got our idea from our friends who created The Happy Family Movement, Josh and Jenny Solar. We’ve found it to be an awesome way to stay intentional during the summer. The boys look forward to make a new list each spring and I love designing and getting it up on our wall. 18 summers. We have 18 summers with our kiddos before they are possibly out of our homes. Let’s make the most of them! Sidenote: Dear Idaho, I hastagged 18summers long before you did.
So, what is a summer bucket list? A summer bucket list is a collection of all the adventures (big and small!) that you want to make sure you have over the summer. For me, when back-to-school time rolled around, it made me wonder what happened to the summer and all the things we had hoped to do. You know the ones I’m talking about. The places or activities you read about or hear about and you think to yourself, “Oh, we need to do that.” and then you forget or you just never get around to it. A summer bucket list helps your family be intentional about how you spend your time.
I’ve included some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last 5 years.
Hype it up! Your summer bucket list endeavor is so much more enjoyable when everyone is excited about it. The more excited you are, the more excited your kiddos (and husband?) will be. I can attest to the awesomeness of the experience when everyone is genuinely excited about completing it together. As my kids have gotten older, I find I don’t have to do this much. Now at 9 and 7, the older boys are reminding me that we need to get our new one ready. The threenager is just excited because the big boys are.
Be [kind of] prepared! When you see an item you need for one of your adventures, especially on sale, buy it! It makes adventures like having a silly string fight doable at a moment’s notice. Of course, sometimes running out to gather supplies can be a family adventure by itself. Do what works for you.
Let it marinate. After your initial brainstorming session, let the bucket list marinate; a week, three weeks, let there be some time to just ponder it. You’ll add great ideas and maybe weed out a few that might not work for whatever reason.
Finalize your list. Look at your list as a whole and decide if you need more small adventures or maybe you have too big items on there. Take note of the costs for admissions, supplies, and meals and lodging if needed. Make sure your list fits your lifestyle. The point of a bucket list is to enjoy intentional time with your family. Being stressed by the activities in counterproductive. If you hate crowds, maybe avoid Disney Land. If you are working on paying down debt or building your savings, make sure your bucket list reflects those goals.
Hang it in the heart of your home. When we lived in a split-level, we posted it on a wall at the top of our stairs. It was literally the first thing we saw when we came home each day. It was also in a place we walked by often. It was near both our kitchen and our living room and the boys looked at it almost every day. This year we’ll be posting in our front room. I love designing our bucket list each year but I know not everyone does. Make it as simple or complex as you want. We always make photos a part of the deal. The bucket list goes up on the wall (or the fridge or a door, wherever works for you!) and there is a place for a photo to go after we’ve completed the adventure.
Let everyone have input. No matter how silly it may seem to you, a suggestion by your little one means a lot to them. If your kiddos are anything like mine, they will remind you often which adventures they contributed. When the boys were toddlers, we for sure “led” them to some of the adventures but if they want to ride their bikes to the gas station for an ice cream cone, put it on the list. Also, toddler adventures tend to be cheap. Enjoy it while you can. The cost of their suggested adventures sometimes grows with their age.
Be ambitious…but not too ambitious. We had 60 items on our bucket list our first year. It was a bit excessive and I needed to remember that our bucket list adventures were not the only adventures we would have during the summer. We didn’t make it through everything but still had an epic summer. The next year we added some items that were a bit ambitious but were still doable and adventures we wanted to try together. We didn’t make a big deal about not completing it and, honestly, completing it is not really the goal, although of course it’s an added bonus!
Gimmies. Put some things on the list that are adventures you have done before or things you do every summer that you want to make extra special. I prefer semi-gimmies. We are at the beach a lot in the summer but last year I put “visit a new beach” on our list . It has just enough new-ness to be an adventure.
Do you. Every family is unique. A brainstorming session might work for you or maybe it works best to just have a conversation about it over several weeks and gather ideas that way. You may have all your adventures on the calendar by month, week, or day (be careful it doesn’t feel like a chore list!), maybe you do each one as you feel like it with little planning, or if you’re like us we have some of the big things planned and the smaller ones we’ll do when the mood strikes. Do whatever is going to bring your family the most joy.
Keep it fun! This may really seem like am obvious thing to say. I mean, it’s a summer bucket list, how much more fun could it be? Well in the first week of our first list, I almost burned out. I called it “bucket list hangover.” We put a little too much on our list, tried to do a lot in one week, and it all of a sudden felt like a to-do list. As a recovering perfectionist, I got caught up in getting through it all instead of pausing and really enjoying the moments. I felt totally guilty but luckily it happened early in the summer and I fully enjoyed the rest of it. I didn’t sweat that we didn’t finish it because I know we embraced every moment we had together.
Above you’ll find a picture of our 2015 bucket list. I’m not sure I can top the pretty factor of that one but I’ll try again this year! If you have read the rest of the blog, you know that 2016 brought a big move for us. We weren’t able to hang our bucket list since the realtor told us it wouldn’t be the best look for buyers. Lame. We kept it in a notebook and we ended up completing every last thing. It made for an amazing and busy last summer in Minnesota. We are looking forward to being able to have a visual again this year.
If you’d like to see more ideas of how to display your list, what you can put on it, and some of our adventures click on over to some of the other posts about our past summer bucket lists.
This week start your planning! Brainstorm with your family, jot down ideas, and really dig in to what you want to make sure to accomplish together this summer. You only get 18 of them people, 18 summers. Next week I’ll post our bucket list and display. You can do this! Cheers to a more intentional summer!
What adventure will for sure make your list this year?