5 Steps to Summer Success

Allison Barrett Carter

Do you  and your family make a summer bucket list?  It’s all the things you and your family will plan to do over the summer. We did a mini-one last year.  It was very fun.  There are all kinds of links out there to give you ideas of what to put on your bucket list.  But no one seems to explain how to put together a summer bucket list for families.

You wouldn’t think it needs explaining.  But my 4yo ends preschool on Friday.  Since I have been neglecting until this moment to realize the ramifications this will have on my time, I am just now putting together my summer bucket list.  And I am sitting here saying “ERMAGHERD (which I can use now, btw), I don’t know what to put on this list, I have no thoughts other than roast marshmallows.”

You may ask what’s the point of a Summer Bucket List.  That’s a fair question.  The point is that it is a way for a family to stay focused, have activities, look forward to things, and stave off some of the days of boredom and routine that is summer.

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Summer vacation should be embraced!  It is a time for families to do the Disney movie things they’ve dreamed of doing – pool parties, water fights with mom & dad, taco eating contests (just me?), renting an RV and heading out West – whatever it is.  It’s fun.

Step 1 for creating a Family Summer Bucket List: Ask Your Family.

This seems reasonable, right?  What do THEY want to do this summer?  What do THEY want summer to look like?  I asked Curtis.  But I did not ask my husband last year.  Because, well, let’s face it, he’s not on Pinterest.  Them’s where the ideas are.  But it seems fair he should get a say, right?  Plus it will make the entire family excited about the idea if put together by the entire family.

Step 2 for creating a Family Summer Bucket List: Research.

So you’ve asked your family, great.  Odds are your kids said something like “eat lots of ice cream and go to the pool” and your husband said “go to the beach.”  Which are totally awesome things, but shortlived.  Plus ice cream and the pool loses their appeal after the first 25 days (trust me, we did that last year).  It’s up to you to get online and research.

Here are some links I love:
Creative Family Fun has 200 ideas on her website.  Start there!
The Happy Family Movement is the website that first got me inspired about this idea last year.  Once you set your list, link up to them and you can actually win things for checking things off your OWN Summer Bucket List.  (They have their list here.)
– I love this totally do-able list from Ucreate.

(by the way, you can buy an entire Summer Bucket List book by Michelle Snow if that’s the way you work)

Step 3 for creating a Family Summer Bucket List: Finalize your List.

– Dream big.  Be realistic.
– Pick some local things you’ve always wanted to try but never did (for some reason, you can’t figure out why).  But also add on those road trips.
– Use the outdoors and the indoors.
– Decide what is age-appropriate for your children and pick stuff you guys actually like.  For example, we never dine out with our boys because they are 18mos and 4 and they HATE to eat and sit still.  So anything involving the word “restaurant” will not be on our list.  That’s just us, though.
– This is a great time to force get the family to try that new hobby you’ve all talked about but never took the time for.

Step 4 for your Family Bucket List: Decide how you want to display it.

There are so many fabulous ideas for displaying and keeping track of Summer Bucket Lists all over the Internet.  Some families make beautiful, printable graphics; you could consider a large chalkboard with checks; some families put the activities on popsicle sticks, put them in a jar, then pull them out 1 at a time; maybe you could use a large corkboard; or try color-coded post-it notes; stick the list on a family blog and track it with pictures; or put it on a Legal-sized piece of paper that you promptly lose and then accuse your husband of recycling…HEY, whatever is YOUR family’s way.

Step 5 for your Family Summer Bucket List: GET GOING!

Go out and have fun!  How you decide what to do when to do it is up to you (NOTE- try not to leave everything until the last week).  But enjoy the time together this summer.  Take your camera and take lots of pictures.

Another practical note: there is an app to help you keep track of your bucket list if you are technology-minded.

WORD OF CAUTION: It would be totally unreasonable to expect to get through everything on your Summer Bucket List unless you’re like my Dad (anything on a list he has made anywhere ever gets checked off).  Remember that a Summer Bucket List is a means to engage, have fun, be creative, think outside the box, and enjoy life.  It isn’t a die-hard list.  If something doesn’t happen, it’s ok.

Also, some of your adventures will suck.  Because they just will.  Peach picking will sound fabulous but then you might end up going on a day when Kid 1 is coming down with a cold, Kid 2 hates all the bugs, it is hotter than blazes, you get lost, and they overcharge you for your peaches but you don’t care because you just want a cold water and a toilet.  Some things will be losses.

But overall, your summer will be one HUGE gain.  I loved doing the Bucket List and am actually getting excited about hot, sweaty days with 2 little ones at home while I am working on ours again for this year (hey, I have til Friday at noon to get ‘er done).  Let’s share together!


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5 steps for summer success - create a summer activities list that really works for YOUR family

This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC.


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Allison Barrett Carter is a freelance writer in North Carolina trying to figure out this whole parenting thing (still). She believes that smart parenting can change the world, one child at a time and chronicles her learning on her blog Go Dansker Mom.