Summer Bucket List

posted by Mary Aardal | Jun 8, 2022

Ah Summer…. Kids are home from school with lots of hours to fill in a day.  What do you do to fill the time?  In our family, we do a Summer Bucket List every year.  This helps us to be intentional about the time we have together to create lasting family memories and not just let the days slip away.  

So how do you write a Summer Bucket List?  Here are 10 strategies I have used over the years to write our bucket list. We have been doing a summer bucket list for the last 11 years so it has changed each year as my children have grown and their interests have changed. 

  1. City activities- go to each of the cities websites and look at their events calendar.  For example, “Outdoor Movie” or “Concert”

  2. Trip advisor- Google your own city and surrounding areas to see what top travel ideas there are for your area.  You might find some things you never knew existed in your area!  For example, “Visit a museum” 

  3. Pinterest- Lots of people like to post their summer bucket lists on Pinterest.  You don’t have to come up with your list from scratch!  Glean from others’ ideas!  Have a variety of activities on the list that include easy things to be done anytime at home, as well as items that take more planning and cost or are weather dependent. For example, “Chalk art” can be done anytime.  But “Fly a Kite” is going to take planning for a windy day to have kites and a place to fly them. Include some items that you are okay spending money on this summer, such as "Go to a professional baseball game" but there are lots of free things to do too!

  4. Vacations- If you know you are traveling somewhere this summer, research the area that you are going to and find some activities that you plan to do while you are there and include those on the bucket list.  For example if you are going on a vacation to the beach include items on the list like “Search for shells” or “Sandcastle building”

  5. Ask the kids- The whole point of the bucket list is to spend intentional time with your kids, so why not include them in the planning?  Let them know that you have final veto power, but maybe they have ideas you have never thought of or there is an item year after year that they want to do again.  They might have trouble when you first start the tradition of a bucket list, but once they get into the hang of it, they will be thinking about it all year round.

  6. Service projects- the Summer bucket list doesn’t have to be all about fun.  Include serving items to get the kids thinking outside themselves.  The plus side of the bucket list is that even if they aren’t excited about the activity, they will do it willingly in order to mark it off the list!  For example, “pick up garbage at the park” or “serve at a soup kitchen”

  7. Judging- It’s fun to include some item on the list that you are going to be judging throughout the summer.  For example, “Burger Joint Judging” you would set a criteria for the aspects that make a good burger, such as taste, cost, and quality of ingredients.  Then each time you visit a burger joint over the summer you grade it and at the end of the summer, you have determined which place your family deems the best burger in town.

  8. Food items- You have to eat anyway, so why not include some fun food items on your bucket list?  For example, “try a new food” or “build your own pizza”

  9. List items- You can include activities that you usually do multiple times in a summer and still give it a spot on the summer bucket list and just mark off each time you succeed in that activity.  For example “Swim in 3 different pools” or “Go bowling 5 times”

  10. Ongoing list all year- Keep a note in your phone that you can add to any time a summer bucket list activity comes to your mind or you learn of something new.  Or maybe there is some project you never have time for during the school year but you want to get done this summer.   

One final note, we started doing “Yes day” about five years ago and it’s one that the kids beg for every summer.  The premise is that you have to say yes to whatever they ask for.  But I do put some parameters around it. 

  1. It can’t be a sin. For example, “Mom, can I hit my sister?” That’s a no even on yes day.

  2. It can’t cost money.  This rule is simply for my budget’s sake so that the kids can’t buy everything they want!.

  3. You can only ask one item of Mom’s time for the day.  I have six kids so I can’t say yes to every request they have of my time between the six of them.  So they are all allowed to ask one thing of my time.  For example, “Mom can you clean my room?” Yes!  

Yes Day is essentially spent with my kids eating junk food and watching tv while I clean their rooms.  All the things I limit the other 364 days of the year!  But it is a day the kids look forward to all year long and talk about and plan for and that’s how lifelong memories are made!  My hope is that my children will gather together decades from now, long after I am gone, and tell their own grandkids all the things they would do on the annual Summer Bucket List!

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