Each May for the last three years, my family has sat down and written out a Summer Bucket List. We’ve always had a great time coming up with an assortment of things we want to do during the summer! We’ve been intentional about making the list a good mix of simple free things, some things that are brand new to us but we’ve always wanted to do, and a couple that might cost a bit of money. Things like making homemade lemonade, spraying parents with a hose, water balloon fights, going to a Royals game, finding a waterfall, getting a dog, going bowling, visiting a new park, etc. They’ve all been wonderful goals, and we’ve always had fun when checking one off the list!
Here’s the thing though – the Summer Bucket List is starting to stress me out and make me feel like a bit of a failure of a mom, and therefore we won’t be doing one this summer.
When I was a kid, we found things to do. My mom didn’t cart us all over the place, finding new things and ways to entertain us. She told us to go outside and play, and so we did! We’d come back begging for popsicles, or seeing if it was warm enough to use the pool or slip and slide, or was it time for a PB&J sandwich. If we whined that we were bored, she’d tell us to go find something to do.
We spent time building tree forts, looking for bugs, trying to get a chipmunk to eat out of our hands (we actually were successful with that one!), playing Whiffle Ball in the backyard, having a lemonade stand, and building Lego houses when it rained.
My mom wasn’t stressed out by summer, and I’m done being stressed out by summer. What was once a good thing, has turned stressful – instead of focusing on the fun, I’ve been dwelling on the fact that once again we didn’t do _____, and surely my kids’ childhoods have been ruined by that. Sigh. It’s not true. I know it’s not true, and yet I dwell on it.
This summer will be about living in the moment, and finding the simple joy in those moments. Running through a field of dandelions, curling up for 4th of July fireworks, playing in the backyard. So much unmanufactured magic happens right in front of us on a daily basis, if we’d put down our cell phones and just soak in the moment!
This summer will be about my kids finding ways to entertain themselves at home sometimes. We’ll take the occasional trip to the zoo, berry picking, and parks, but not because we feel pressured by checking it off a list of things to do. We’ll spend more time playing and using our imaginations, and less time looking at a list of things we wanted to do before school starts up again. No longer will I let a list stress me out and feel like I’ll fail as a mom if we don’t check most, if not all, of the items off.
We’re going to live entirely in the moment, and it will be glorious! For the most part… until they start bickering, and then maybe I’ll wish we had a list to look at.