Monday, June 10, 2013

What's Up With Summer?

Several people have asked me if we are doing ABC Summer again this year. I have done it with my daughters for the past two years, and it has been a resounding success. I've given tips and ideas to other stay-at-home moms requesting such for their own forays into ABC Summer adventures. I have all our past weekly activities archived here, on this blog.

Truth be told, I had every intention of doing ABC Summer for the third year in a row. My girls would have been happy to do it again. But something happened between January and June. Winter ended up lasting well into May, which kind of got me off track. It kept feeling like it was February or March, and then one day I looked up and realized that it was nearly the end of school and Julia's birthday and past the time I should have started organizing our family's summer trip, and I hadn't done a thing about ABC Summer yet. As fun, helpful, and positive as ABC Summer is, it takes a lot of planning and preparation. And I was too busy in May staving off winter and a winter-in-May mental breakdown to remember to get started on that.

So this year, we are doing something different. We are doing a "Summer Bucket List." (I secretly hate the term "bucket list" and wish I'd named ours "Summer Adventures List," but the fact is that everyone knows what you mean when you say "bucket list," and all the other mommy blogs and Pinterest boards call them "bucket lists," so there you have it.)

A Summer Bucket List is similar, in some ways, to ABC Summer; it just doesn't relegate activities to certain weeks according to the letters they begin with, and it doesn't include the completing of an ABC Summer binder with a page for each week and each letter. Since my daughters got sick of filling out their binders every Friday pretty darn fast, the Summer List is actually better in that regard (though I loved having those permanent "memory books" at the end of each summer).

Our 2013 Summer Bucket List started with 65 items that I typed up and printed out; since then we have penciled in a few more as we've thought of them. The list hangs on our refrigerator door and we check off things as we do them. The goal, of course, is to see if we can do all 70 activities before summer vacation ends.

The key, I think, to a successful Summer List is not to load it up with too many "big" activities. Because let's face it: how many times are you really going to have the energy to take the kids tubing on a river (gah! we're not doing that, by the way) or drive an hour away to the big urban fine-arts museum?

Those things are great, but an ideal Summer List includes many, MANY small summer pleasures that, most likely, you'll have no problem doing (maybe multiples times) in the next few months: eating Popsicles, biking to the pool, having a picnic, making sandcastles, playing hopscotch, baking cookies, throwing a teddy bear tea party. Remember: kids are easy to please, and often the simplest experiences--making S-Mores over a fire (or, heck, in the microwave), staying up late enough to watch for fireflies, or digging in the sand on a sunny local beach--are the sweetest in their minds when all is said and done.

On our list, we've got the mundane (ride bikes, hike, plant flowers, eat ice cream cones), the somewhat less so (have a friend sleep over, attend a sporting event, go on an evening walk in pajamas), and the novel (invent and create a new sandwich recipe, make a card for someone, write a poem). We've got the tiny (have a pajama day, watch a movie, make a fort), the medium-sized (visit the zoo, go to Covered Bridge Park, visit Wild Rumpus Bookshop or Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis), and the big (go on our family trip to SD). We've got 70 adventures of all types to keep us busy this summer.

It's not at all too late to make a Summer Bucket List, if you haven't yet but are looking for something fun to organize your kiddos' summer around and a way to pack the wonderful weeks of summer with all the best parts of the season. Your list could be 70 items long, or 50, or 100. You could start next week, or you could start today. If you want to do it fancy, you could go all out with something like this.

It hasn't even been one full week of summer vacation for my kidlets yet, and it's been cold and rainy almost every day so far, but we've done seven things from our list already (some examples: gone for a hike in the arboretum; looked for fairies; visited our town square's old-fashioned popcorn cart, had a picnic at the park; baked with the E-Z Bake Oven). With many more to look forward to.

One of these days maybe the sun will come out and it will even FEEL like summer!

Happy summer adventuring! We're off to the races. What about you?

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