Jun 2011

Your Summer Bucket List

posted in: Blog, Mom Wisdom

So, here it is…the last day of school, the first official day of summer. The beginning of downtime, relaxation, lemonade stands, bug bites, summer camps and staring at the clouds!  With the whole summer stretching before me, I am relishing the thought of a “schedule free” summer.  (Well, I am offering 7 weeks of camps at Hooray for Books, so there will be work involved, but not the whole summer!)  My kids and I will work, play, relax and tick off our Summer Bucket Lists!  What you ask, is a bucket list?  A bucket list is all the things you’d like to do in a summer.  Doesn’t that sound divine?  Please do NOT confuse it with a TO-Do list!  It is distinctly different and far more fun!  So how do you come up with one?  Simple- grab a pen and a long piece of paper; then grab your family!

Summer is a great time to create lasting memories, not madness!  The other night at a restaurant I gave each of my kids (yes, miraculously, we all managed to meet up for dinner one night as the year was winding down) a sheet of paper with his/her name on top and a pen.  We talked about the bucket list concept and they had free reign to write as many things as they wanted down.  Both my husband and I threw out some past crowd pleasers as well as things we hadn’t had time to conquer last summer.  No idea was too big, no thought was ruled out due to money constraints (we’d conquer that later) yet we also encouraged the small ideas and of course the uniquely summer ones (- camping out in the backyard, a lemonade stand, but no- Disneyworld was not a summer activity.)  After the ideas were listed we asked the kids to star 5 super important ones that would really make his/her summer.

It was fascinating to watch the self regulation.  Out loud they worked through why it was unlikely that we would go to California or buy a new house in Vermont after we just sold our old one to ease the family budget!  My other fear was that exponentially, with 5 kids, I’d be running in 25 directions to please them all, but a very strange thing happened….the lists had many similarities and we realized that our summer favorites overlapped.  It was also obvious that quite a few ideas could be accomplished without costing an arm and a leg.  So what showed up on our lists you ask?  Here is a random sampling…

  1. Six Flags
  2. Go to 5 new ice cream shops
  3. Mini golfing
  4. July 4th parade in Orleans
  5. Day in Boston + Duck Tours
  6. Week at Grandma + Grandpa’s on Cape Cod
  7. Lemonade stand
  8. Red Sox game
  9. Make a fire pit and roast marshmallows/make s’mores
  10. Night swim (we have a pool so the kids love to get glow sticks on and go for a night swim)
  11. Build a fort in the backyard
  12. Go to the Mendon Drive in
  13. Ride bikes or go hiking on a new trail
  14. Strawberry picking
  15. Zip Line adventure in NH
  16. Put on a white rope bracelet (we all don one as our symbol that summer is here and then ceremoniously cut them off the night before school starts to see our white, pink shriveling skin underneath!)

What I found most cool about these lists is that they’re pretty similar to what I might have come up with when I was 10 years old.  I was at a gathering after the Timlin Race and happened to share our idea of the Summer Bucket List with several attendees.  I heard comments like “what a great idea’’ or “I’m going to do that with our kids for sure”.  One mom of a 3 and 1 year old pointed out “Even though we have tiny kids who can’t list anything, this is a really smart way to think as parents about the memories we want to create for and with our kids in the future”.   Well said!  The time sure does go fast.  There is one thing on our Summer Bucket List I wish I could erase but it is the inevitable….drive to Bucknell University and drop Haley off at college.  It will be a family affair as all of us need to have a visual of where big sister will be, but I’m thinkin’ the ride home is going to be a long one!

I’m the last to wish away a summer.  It is my favorite season so get your lists going and I will happily remind you of the summer halfway point so you can buckle down if you haven’t checked anything off yet!  Remember- not the TO-DO one- the FUN one!  And for kicks – why not make your own Summer Grown-Up Bucket List?

Ice cream Cone Reading Contest! Read books and create a huge cone going up your wall!  Each scoop = a book you read or had read to you.  In August send me an email picture of your whopping cone and be entered to win a $25 gift card to your favorite ice cream shop – anywhere in the USA!  See to download the chart!

Mary Murphy is the President of Hooray for Books, (a reading & cooking enrichment center in Hopkinton, MA) and a mom of 5 kids, all home for the summer as of 12:05pm Tuesday!  To read more blogs or get info on HFB summer mini camps/birthday parties/offerings for 1-10 year olds check out

  1. Erin
    Jun 30, 2011

    I love the idea of a summer bucket list and I can’t wait to start one for my family. After seeing your post, I saw this blog entry with free printouts for creating a fun bucket list.

    It also made me think of an “empty nest” bucket list that I saw recently on a blog. The parents created a list of all the things they wanted to do with their kids before they left for college.

  2. Mary Murphy
    Jul 05, 2011

    Thanks for sharing Erin – I especially like the idea of laminating the blank cards to reuse next year!

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