By Michelle Mady
Especially this year, I am feeling the pressure to make this summer memorable. Last summer we were in the midst of a pandemic, so just seeing a friend across the street was a great time. Because of the many restrictions, the bar was set low to achieve the best summer possible. This summer, things are starting to open, and restrictions are lifted. So, the pressure is on to make this summer one to remember - and not for the same reasons that summer 2020 was so memorable. But, because of the shifting pandemic landscape, instead of scheduling grand vacations, I have created a summer bucket list for my family to check off as we go.
Explore Something New
There are so many really cool, lesser known places to visit. A museum that we’ve never been to, or a zoo that we found online is a great starting point. It is okay if they are further away than we would typically travel to a favorite place, because the journey is half the adventure, right? We will look up some interesting places and learn something new!
Go Fly a Kite
As frustrating as this activity may start, it isn’t actually flying a kite on the list. It is an activity that I remember doing just a few times as a child. And because we did it so rarely, it seemed so much more special than it was. As a mom, I realize it was probably because it took an immense amount of patience from my mom. Think back to your childhood - maybe kicking a can, playing Twister or painting rocks was something you didn’t do often, but remember fondly. Add it to your bucket list!
Ice Cream for Dinner
We are going to have an ice cream sundae bar right in our kitchen. A few flavors of ice cream, bowls of toppings and lots of napkins make the perfect dinner. We like to get the regular toppings, like whipped cream, sprinkles and hot fudge; but also grab some new toppings, like bananas, strawberries and even crushed Cheerios! This tends to elicit lots of laughter, so we do it once every summer.
Full disclosure, Halloween is pretty big in my house. It is my favorite holiday, and I look forward to spending the evening with the spooks and ghouls. So in the summer, we start planning. We take a walk in the neighborhood and walk one street further than we typically do, looking at cool houses and noting busy streets. I must confess, this is more of a way for me to add an activity in the day without much planning rather than a day full of planning!
Backyard Field Day
We are going to have a full-blown field day in our back yard this year. Outdoor painting, water fights and obstacle courses are going to be the theme of the day. We are bringing back some nostalgia by planning three-legged and potato-sack races. Ring toss and face paint will also be featured, as well as, very likely, any other themed game I can find at Target the night before. This will be toward the end of the summer as a last hurrah before school starts again.
Make a Friend
It can be difficult for people in nursing homes to stay connected to friends. With that in mind, we are going to write letters to be dropped off at a nursing home near our house. We may also write letters to military soldiers stationed overseas, or maybe draw a few pictures to be left at a local cancer center. Even a letter mailed to a family member can build a relationship and keep those social skills sharp over the summer.
No matter what you add to your summer bucket list, make sure to add something you enjoy. Our Halloween Recon is totally geared toward my interest and entertainment, where our letter writing is right up my daughter’s ally. Balancing a few favorite activities from each family member both ensures their summer enjoyment as well as allows other family members to do something fresh, and maybe build a new appreciation for each other.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.
Photo credit: iStock.com/zoranm