Bucket lists are all the rage. 30 things to do before I turn 30, things to do in summer, places I want to visit, and so many other “things to accomplish.” I am all about goals and I come by list making naturally (my mom is a list making maniac and now my oldest is too). The thing is, our lists are about…things. Stuff we want to do. How about we make our list not about what but why?
Family togetherness: do something fun as a family such as learn a new board/card/yard game. Go on an overnight vacation. Take a day trip to a museum. Do one thing to foster relationships with your kids and as a family. Make sure to take one big family picture too to remember the day.
Experience something new: Find something you’ve never done before or a place you’ve never been and go/do. Our family went to a drive in movie for the first time last night to see Cars 3 in Elko New Market, MN. It meant a late night and a long drive but we had a BLAST!!
Move more: plan a hike, go on a family bike ride, make family walks a priority. Since I am on a journey of weight loss this is especially important. We are making movement a priority this summer, especially since MN doesn’t exactly encourage outdoor play in the cold, dark days of winter.
Learning experience: Because we homeschool this one is a no-brainer for us. However, for the first time we are making science our summer priority. We also happen to be studying astronomy and this year my goal is to watch the first solar eclipse to be viewed in the US in over 30 years on August 21. If this wasn’t happening, we would try to schedule a trip to a cave or a nature walk.
Summer ONLY: Some things are only available to be done in the summer. In MN that might be a trip to the zoo. That was on our list and not only did we check it off, we got a season pass and added “make 5 trips to the zoo” to our list. The other thing on my Andrews Seven goal list is weekly water fun. Sprinklers, water balloons, water guns, pool, beach…whatever. I want to get the kids in water somehow every week.
Make the most of your state: One of the things we tend to do is plan lots of things OUTSIDE our state when we are missing on some great in-state things. Whether this is the fairs or state parks or specialty museums. I grew up in Grand Rapids, MN the birthplace of Judy Garland. Grand Rapids has a yearly festival “Tall Timber Days” along with a great Judy Garland museum. I’ve never been to the museum but I’ve heard it’s great. What things are in your hometown (or your kids since I don’t technically live in my hometown anymore) that you haven’t explored or been too? Mankato where we live has a great state park with a water fall, Minneopa State Park. We bought a park pass (only $25/car) and now we can go hike anytime we want AND there is buffalo there for us to ooh and aah at!
Quiet time: Set a goal for daily quiet time. Summer can be all about the go, go, go and the do, do, do and really it also needs to be about slow, slow, slow and rest, rest, rest. My goal is to read aloud to my kids this summer something fun. For our family, this is Harry Potter followed by watching the corresponding movie. It also means library trips twice a month. Another idea, make one day a week a “no go” day where no matter what you stay home and say no to all invites. Summer is the time when our children need to have margin so that their bodies and minds can rest from all the activities that the school year brings.
It’s free: YES! Especially this. When you are a family of 7, everything (even an ice cream treat) can be expensive. Take advantage of all the FREE family activities that go on each month. Farmers markets have kids activities, free days at museums, fair exhibits that are free, reading programs, etc.
It’s cheap: Not everything is free but there are things that are discounted for the summer. One of my goals is to take the kids to the movies to see last years hit: “Sing.” It is playing at the theater in July and for $4 each child gets a movie, drink, popcorn and a candy treat. Normally this would cost probably $15 per child. What a special and fun activity for my kids because a movie is a rare treat!
It makes the next 9 months easier: This one isn’t necessarily about a “fun” activity but is SO important. Sit down as a family (or first as a couple) and discuss what you want the school year to look like. Decide now what you will say no to or yes to. Figure out margin in the next year. Hold a “get rid of 100 items” day where you downsize what you own so you can spend less time cleaning. Clean out the kids bedrooms and clean out all those unused books/toys/dolls and toss garbage. Remember less=more when it comes to stuff.
Volunteer: Find an organization you love and ask them how you might help them this summer. I love the Mankato area Backpack Program. While they are in summer mode, there is still lots to be done. While this doesn’t involve my kids directly, I have volunteered to do some computer work and it has been one of my favorite things this summer. How can you make your area great or serve someone today? You could also pick a few days to perform random acts of kindness. Mow the lawn or pick up sticks for an elderly neighbor. So many opportunities for your family to GIVE this summer. My sister in TX volunteers year round for a program called “Lunches of Love.” Normally her children are in school but now that it is summer they spend every Wednesday there with her. Not only are they learning to give, they are seeing that via their mama how important it is to serve as an adult!
It brings joy: Childhood used to be about the simple things. Let’s make it about that again. Swinging, collecting lightning bugs, sleeping under the stars or a simple ice cream cone. Find things that make your kids joy and teach them to find joy in the little!