2018 Summer Bucket Listby Elizabeth MacDonald
The temperature is rising. Spring is finally in the air. But the talk around town is Summer. Summer camps, vacations, playdates, and pools. The endless days of sunshine, swimming, and outside play will be here soon, so it’s time to start planning. I have five little ones ages 8,7, 4, 2 and 6 months. I don’t ever pee alone. While we are a year-round homeschooling family (because why turn off learning?), we still count the days until the pool opens and swimsuits are the outfit of choice – and children play outside the entire day. I am always filling our calendar with playdates, picnics, and field trips that will allow me to keep my sanity while also educating and entertaining the wee folk. These are always more fun when the fellow mommies enjoy an afternoon “wine time” playdate of course, but I’ll take what I can get!
(I may not pee alone, but look who keeps me company!)
Summer is the time for water play, sunscreen, popsicles, forts, sleeping in, and counting stars. The kids and I sat down and talked about what we would like to do this summer. Most of our activities take a break until September, so we switch to summer-mode. I won't lie, we typically just live at the pool every day, but it's fun to create a bucket list to make sure we do accomplish something that each child wants to do!
Are you in need of some ideas? Feel free to borrow a few of ours. Remember that the goal is to create fun memories, so don’t stress, yell, or fret if things don’t play out. You can always stop for some frozen yogurt and all will be right again.
First: If you are at home with the kids all summer, find a mom-friend who is in the same boat and trade mom services. Choose one day a week and leave the kids there for a few hours so you can get a run in, errands done, a nap (hahaha), cook a five star dinner (or you know, pinerest a five star dinner), a few hours just to breathe. The next week, it’s your turn to watch all the kids!
2018 Summer Bucket List
- Map your city and place a sticker on each playground, splash pad, and park. (Google search for local Splash Pad Playgrounds in your area.) Plan to visit one a week and decide which is your favorite and why. Take the time to discuss what was loved, disliked, even rate the experience. Make each trip an adventure, taking pictures, bringing snacks. Use these trips as an opportunity for your children to make new friends, converse with new people, and #unplug from technology. There will always be at least one other parent there looking for adult interaction – jump on it! (Or jump in on the play action!)
- Get your toes in the sand. Pack the essentials and drive to the nearest beach. Show off freshly painted toes (non-toxic Piggy Paint keeps toes looking pretty!) while splashing in the waves, building sandcastles, and reapplying sunscreen. Invite friends or make a few there… Not within driving distance to the beach? No worries, a sand box in the backyard set up next to a water table will create an afternoon of smiles!
- Collect sea shells to paint (or rocks from a stream). Imaginative play is the foundation of a creative mind. This activity turns into days of follow-up fun. Collect shells (or rocks) and have your kids pain them. You can do solid colors, patterns, finger paints, it doesn’t matter. Try to help each shell have something special to it – a feather, glitter, etc. Once all is dry, these become “Story Shells” and the kids create a story using the shells to put the story to life. (Think: black and white shell can be a zebra, blue polka doted shell can be rain, ocean, or a sea of jelly fish!) There’s no end to the creativity that oozes from this activity!
- Go camping… in the living room if it is unbearably hot outside. Camping is an inexpensive vacation that helps get the family back into nature. Roast hot dogs, tell stories, walk through a stream, catch tadpoles, read bedtime stories by flashlight. If you cannot imagine sleeping under the stars (live a little – try it!!), unroll the sleeping bags, unplug the TV, grab board games, and recreate the camping experience inside!
- Have a BBQ, with the sprinkler on… invite everyone to bring food and beverages, leave a tip jar to cover a house cleaner so you can sleep peacefully. Seriously. Isn’t this the greatest idea? Pick a weekend, invite all of your grown-up friends (and their children) and pull out the zipline and slip-n-slide. Enjoy some adult interaction, great food, and party until bedtime. You know everyone will throw some money toward your hostess/tip jar, especially because they’ll want you to host again!
- Dance in the afternoon rain shower… with no umbrella. No explanation needed – and bath time is done for the day!
- Make shapes out of the clouds during a picnic. Bring a kite and spend the entire day outside. Take this a step further and have the kids draw their cloud designs.
- Make some homemade popsicles (sneak in some probiotics and chia seeds even some spinach). Pull out the blender and try a smoothie recipe. Pour it into popsicle molds and VOILA! Summer tastes delicious! Oh no, what to do with the left over smoothie that didn’t fit into the molds? Add an adult beverage, reblend, and freeze as ice cubes – or adult popsicles! (Make sure to label which are kid-friendly!)
- Unplug the TV (at least for a day… a week if you dare) and PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY!!! When you run out of energy, read. Open a real book and read to yourself, to your kids, on the floor, outside, in the car, it doesn’t matter.
- Plant a garden – or just flowers.
- JUMP into a pool, lake, ocean… lounge in a baby pool. Get WET and smile about it. Join in with the kids and splash. Don’t worry about your hair getting wet or being self-conscious in a swim suit. LOVE the moment and enjoy how much fun you are having.
- Shop at a local Farmer’s Market and see what other local shops have to offer (Remember Maison Drake is family owned! Stop in and say Hi!) Let the kids pick out a new food to try and cook an entire meal based around it. Stay away from chain stores and the like – make your dollar count and shop local.
- Chalk is wonderful. Hop scotch, tic tac toe, water balloons, squirt guns, and buckets filled with water can create an entire afternoon of fun.
- Search for summer deals near you: $1 movie days, paint your own pottery coupons, live music during a family-friendly happy hour (That IS a deal).
- Run a family-friendly 5k WITH the entire family
- Drive to the nearest zoo or aquarium. You can go pitnterest crazy with this and make little activity “busy-books” for the kids while visiting the animals –OOOOOOOOR you can just go VISIT the animals! Give the kids a disposable camera and let them go at it. Then turn their pictures into an album.
- Have the kids choose dessert and help make it. If you have the patience, that can include creating the shopping list, joining you at the store, and then measuring, sifting, stirring, and baking before enjoying.
- Write letters to friends –penpal style- instead of sending a text, and ask them to write back. If your children aren’t at “writing” age, then draw pictures. Kids LOVE receiving mail. This activity lends itself to teaching your address and how to address an envelope.
- Turn on the music and have a dance party. Dance like there’s no tomorrow. Dance to whatever music YOU love. This shows your children that you have likes too!
- When all else fails, let everyone be bored – it will harvest their creativity.