Add adventure to your summer with a family bucket list

It’s here. Long-awaited by kids, oft-maligned by parents, it’s the beginning of summer. But for all the parents of kids who aren’t going to camp this summer, there’s no need to fear. Not only have we got an incredible, printable activity calendar that will help you add fun and excitement to any unscheduled day (that fast becomes a family argument day), but I’ve also got one simple idea to make even the most boring summer exciting: the family summer bucket list.

It’s easy to create and a great way to kick off summer. And it’s something I do with my kids every year once school ends.

We sit together at the kitchen table and start hollering out all the things we want to do in the summer. Kids and adults alike have a great time trying to think of as many fun and crazy ideas as we can come up with.

Last summer’s list included sleepovers at grandparents’ houses, trips to a community wood-fired oven pizza night, farmers’ market visits, family swimming days, water fights, farm excursions, cooking adventures, fruit-picking, painting like Jackson Pollack, and more.

Putting an item on the summer bucket list is not a guarantee that we will do it, mind you. One son, for example, requested a month at his grandparents’ house. And while his dad and I would have been happy to oblige, there was the small matter of his grandparents, who get tired after a few hours with that particular high-energy child of ours. Still, fantasies like the summer at Nana’s go on the list, all the same.

And then we spend our summer crossing items from the list. The kids have fun feeling like they’ve “accomplished” something and I have fun knowing that when I wake up each morning, a list of possibilities will be staring back at me from our refrigerator.

Our list isn’t set in stone. In fact, we add to it all summer long. And we talk openly about the things we probably won’t get to do.

My children love moments where a once-thought-impossible item on the list actually happens. Like the time we got rained-in at the faraway home of friends and had to spend the night. That fateful sleepover was something we never would have planned, but the kids were all the more excited when it happened. And they haven’t stopped talking about it since. I think the fact that it was one of the impossible items on their list made it that much sweeter when it actually happened.

One last thing: Not everything that happens in our summer comes from the family summer bucket list. So we make a point to write down favourite adventures on slips of paper and keep them in a mason jar in our kitchen. At the end of the summer, we sit together and read out everything we did. It’s such a wonderful way to relive the joy and excitement of summer right as it comes to a close.

We’ve never had a summer where we do everything on our bucket list. And I think, deep down, no one really wants to. Somehow, having a few great ideas left over when September rolls around almost makes it feel like the summer just might keep going forever.

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