Summer is in full swing and if your family is like mine, now is about the time you start hearing “Mom, I’m sooooo bored!” Ugh! Balancing working full time during the week, with kids that are old enough to stay home alone (aka – this means they spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV or on their Xbox!), it’s hard to find fun ways to make the most of downtime on the weekends!
A few years ago, we asked everyone to pick one thing they wanted to do that summer and started adding it to our summer ‘must do” list. Going in to each weekend, we also ask each of the kids to name something they want to do that weekend. This helps prevent the weekend from getting away from us time wise and ensures that each of our kinds feels like they have a voice in our weekend plans at some level. Below are a few tips on making your own Summer Bucket List.
- Everyone Contributes. Invite each member of the family to give a few ideas. Make sure even the youngest gets a chance to give an idea without being over run by older siblings (definitely a sticking point in our family with an opinionated 15-year-old).
- Back to the Future. Include a few vintage classics from back in the day when you were a kid. Imparting family history and sharing stories of your childhood are great bonding experiences.
- Create Together. Include at least one opportunity to make, cook, bake or create something together.
- Get Outside! With so much focus on technology and time spent indoors these days, be sure at least one item involves getting outdoors.
- Learn Something New. Pick one thing to do that you’ve never done before or that involves learning a new skill, sport, or activity or even exploring a museum.
- Create Tradition. Find something you can do together as a family each week. Pick a show to watch a television, institute a family game night, eat dessert together on the front porch, etc.
So what’s on our bucket list this summer? We have tweens and teens so some of these may not be age-appropriate for everyone in your family, feel free to modify, adjust or duplicate as you wish!
Summer Bucket List
- Get Lost in Space. We watch this every Sunday night on Netflix as a family and our goal is to finish season one by the end of the summer. It’s one of the few shows our family of 5 can agree on! It’s full of action, adventure, plot twist and a little PG-rated rom com mixed in!
- Make Cookies. Our kids love to bake and the whole family loves dessert so this is the perfect activity to pass time during the day at home. Our kids are old enough for limited baking and cooking while home alone. If yours aren’t, this one may be best for weekends! Classic chocolate chip cookies are still a family favorite.
- Go Crabbing. My husband’s family has a tradition of spending summer vacations at the Shore. Part of this includes spending one day crabbing and then cooking crabs together for dinner. As a newly blended family, this is the first year my boys will get to share in this with their new grandparents and they are beyond excited. Find something new you can try as a family.
- Learn to Paddleboard. Time outdoors and specifically time on the water is something my husband and I really enjoy. It’s amazing what a little time out in nature can do for the soul and what time “unplugged” can do for your family. We recently discovered paddle boarding at local outfitter and have plans for the whole family to master the sport by the end of the summer.
- Grill Together. My husband got a new grill for his birthday this spring and we’ve discovered that it gives us a great opportunity to sit down and eat as a family and really talk to one another. We plan to pick 1-2 days each week this summer to try out new recipes and sit on our patio eating and talking together. I know before we know it, our kids will be back at school and busy school-year schedules will be upon us so we’re trying to savor these slower-paced summer dinners while we can.
- Give Back. Helping others is important to everyone in our family and my husband and I try to instill this in our kids and give them opportunities to put it into practice. We plan to volunteer packing backpacks with school supplies, sorting food at the local food pantry or helping out at a local animal shelter before the kids head back to school. If this is on your bucket list, websites like Hands On Volunteer Network or the United Way can link you up with volunteer opportunities in your local communities.
- Explore Our Nation’s History. All of our kids have expressed an interest in visiting Washington D.C. at one point or another. We have an opportunity to drive through it on our way home from a family vacation so timing seems right for our t(w)eens to get a mini taste of the history of our nation. With one day to do it all, it will certainly only be a starting point but we’re excited to visit the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument and more! Politics aside, our children need a chance to see these things in real life outside of the pages of their social studies textbooks.
- Grow Something. We live in a fairly urban area with not much opportunity to grow things other than in flower pots. That said, our two youngest have expressed an interest in growing a garden this summer. While it may only be a blueberry plant, herb garden and some jalapenos, they’re excited and anxiously awaiting time for the first harvest!
- Eat More Ice Cream. This is one of my favorite memories growing up. We’d scour the grocery aisles with my mom and she’d let us each choose our favorite popsicle or ice cream flavor for the week. Sometimes, we’d take a trip up to The Creamery, B&B’s or The Purple Cow for a chance to choose from fancier frozen treats like dipped cones, bubble gum ice cream or big wheel ice cream sandwiches. We plan to repeat this summer tradition with our kids. Who says you can’t eat ice cream every day?!
- Get a Puppy. Just kidding… kind of… maybe… sort of. This one is still the topic of much conversation in our household. The kids are begging for a puppy and while lots seems to line up, there are also some realities that don’t. We live across from a dog park, we have teenagers who are old enough to take care of a dog, we live in a very dog-friendly community and as a newly blended family this seems like a great bonding opportunity to do together. But… big but… we also have one aging dog already and busy travel, work and activity schedules and the adults in the family know how much work goes in to the “puppy stage.” I can’t even begin to count the number of cute dog photos and links my husband and I have both been sent or the number of times we stop to pet a cute puppy in our neighborhood and see that “look” from our kids afterwards. For now, this one may be repeat listing on our seasonal bucket lists for the next year. Maybe one day! If this is on your list this summer, Petfinder.com offers a great chance to adopt a dog in need of a loving home!
What’s on your family’s bucket list for the summer? If you need more ideas, our friends at iMom developed a great list of 50 ideas for the whole family this summer!