A few weeks ago, I sat down to lunch with my 3 kids and we talked about our summer. We shared how much fun we were having and talked about our “Summer Bucket List”. It was the middle of July and I felt like we were doing pretty good.
When I mentioned how proud I was of our accomplishments, they didn’t agree! They started telling me that we haven’t done “anything they wanted to do all summer.” First of all, that is a load of crap. We have done plenty, if not nearly everything they have wanted to do this summer. Yet, they still have more they want to learn, explore, taste, and experience. After lunch, I was left with the nagging feeling that maybe we didn’t do everything on our summer bucket list. It was an extensive list and my kids are big thinkers, but I checked the list and we really only had a few things left to do.
That’s when it hit me, their idea of a perfect summer had evolved from the “Summer Bucket List” we made in May. That list changed as they grew up right in front of me, but I never stopped to update it. I looked at the list as my big “To-Do List”. I was just checking things off the list, so that they wouldn’t gripe at me in August. But, here we are.. griping…in JULY.
Cue the mommy guilt.
Looking back, I didn’t stop to enjoy all the moments that I could have. I didn’t slow down to just experience life through their eyes. I might have been able to anticipate their new desires if I paid attention to when their eyes grew bigger or when they couldn’t stop asking questions.
Instead, I was the task master, the cruise director, the teacher, and the manager of all the fun, all while resenting that big “To-Do List”. One that they themselves never looked at!
So, I decided to throw out the list last week. Instead of allowing their negative attitudes to ruin our perfectly happy and messy summer, with all of the “…but we never…” comments, I am making them do something different.
On our back door is an interactive “End of Summer Bucket List”. There are blank strips of paper next to a construction paper bucket which is taped to the door. When someone thinks of something they want to do before August 27th, they write it down and tape it on the wall. Then, when we do it they put the slip of paper in the paper bucket. I taped a baggie behind the bucket so that all of their activities are collected. The night before the first day of school, we will empty out the bag and see what we actually experienced as a family.
This interactive approach gives them control and has already made a big difference in our time together. Plus, everyone can participate! And you know what? I learned that each activity or idea is not really an activity “to do”. They are goals.
When I wrote down that I wanted to ride our bikes to the pool; it became a goal, not a “to-do” like it was in the beginning of the summer. The goal doesn’t just represent the activity, but rather it suggests the fun and memories we’ll be making by achieving that goal together. Changing this one little word has made a HUGE difference in my outlook on our
Summer Bucket List End of Summer Bucket List. And boy was it fun riding our bikes to the pool. I loved every second of it and so did my kids. It is a highlight of our summer!
I guess, my point is if something isn’t working, throw it out or change it… whatever it is! For me, I was stressing over their summer bucket list because I turned it into a “To-Do” list. I was panicking over what wast NOT checked off, rather than rejoicing in what WAS checked off. Making this little activity zone (like a bulletin board in my old classrooms) adds joy to our days. And don’t tell anyone, but even my hubby has added a few things to the wall! I can’t wait to see which goal we’ll accomplish together today!
Find the JOY in all that you accomplish today, and if you can’t find it in everything~find it in something. You are AMAZING and you are a GIFT to all the people around you. Throw your to-do list out the window and make a list of goals instead. You’ll feel more inspired once you do!
There are no happy accidents~