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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Larson

Why We Love to Create a Summer Bucket List

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

The final stretch. State assessments are finally behind us. Upper school students are submitting course requests for next year. And teacher appreciation week brought a lot of joy to our schools this past week. We’ve come a long way this school year and we can see the last day of school sitting on the horizon just out of reach.

School is one challenge this time of year. But managing the end of year flurry of activities can make for a busy household as well! Not to mention the flu virus, colds, allergies, covid germs and all kinds of crud swirling around us as we try to keep everyone healthy and focused during these final few weeks.

For parents (and I expect teachers too) this can be a tough time of year as we try to encourage our kids to finish strong.

So how do we motivate our kids this time of year? Every spring I stick a piece of paper on the fridge labeled “Summer Bucket List” and we start brainstorming ideas for summer activities. It’s our way of rewarding ourselves for making it through the year.

Here’s some ideas to get you started.

Why Create a Summer Bucket List?

For our family, having something to look forward to, especially during tough times (or when you feel like the school year is never going to end) is a great motivator. It gives our kids a feeling of optimism and helps them feel a bit more in control of where they’re going. It’s also a great reminder that we want to carve out time to disconnect from all the technology we use on a daily basis.

Google “summer bucket list” and you’re going to find an endless number of blogs about summer activities, games to play, places to visit and so on. There’s even fancy templates you can download to make your list look professional or perfectly match your kitchen decor.

But we do none of that. Our rules for our summer bucket list are pretty simple. No rules!

Anyone in the family can add anything to the list. Activities can be completely unrealistic and extravagant. Or they can be uber simple. Our only request is that everyone add something to the list before the last day of school.

In previous years, we’ve had requests for a trip to the moon, always great to have a dreamer in the family. We’ve also had other requests for “do nothing days” which I interpret to mean pajamas all day long! And we’ve had everything in between from museum visits to family vacations, and friends they want to spend time with.

Our kids do understand that just because something is on the list doesn’t guarantee we’ll make it happen. But I do love seeing what everyone is most excited about. And once school is out, we start making plans and crossing activities off the list.

What’s Trending This Summer? And Other Ideas.

Looking for a few ideas to get your Summer Bucket List started? Here’s a few trends for summer and some other great ideas.

The All-American Bucket List: 50 Iconic Adventures for Each of the 50 States

If "visit all 50 states" is already on your list, here's what to do, see, and experience while you're in each one. - Reader's Digest

20 Fun Family Staycation Ideas

Sometimes the best remedy for work stress is just to stay at home while on vacation, and that is why so many families are enjoying the idea of a staycation. - Family Focus Blog

The biggest travel trend of 2022: Go big, spend big

If 2021 was about domestic travel, 2022 may be the year of the “bucket list” trip. - CNBC

100 Summer Fun Ideas for Kids and Parents

Check out this list of 100 things you and your kids can do to fight off summertime boredom. - Very Well Family

Join the Discussion

You might be wondering, what’s my request each year? It’s always the same - to hike a fourteener with the family. It's a popular activity in Colorado and we’ve ventured out with the kids several times to conquer the peak of one of our giant mountains. There’s always a group of us that makes it to the top, and I’m convinced our oldest two kids are part mountain goat because they climb so fast! But we’ve yet to have the entire family make it to the top on the same hike. Altitude sickness can be brutal, and every year one of us reaches a point where we must turn back. But it’s guaranteed family time for us, another bonus.

So what’s on your Summer Bucket List? We’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Jennifer Larson is an entrepreneur, charter school founder and mother to four children. Connect with her @startupjen.

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