I’ve been working on our Summer Fun List again for this year (see last year’s list here). My kids loved doing it last year and they enjoyed the Fall and Winter List too, so we’re going for it again. I guess we’re making it a tradition.
I have the list pretty much done, but I haven’t yet put it on our big poster for checking off each thing. Through discussing it with them, I’ve discovered that doesn’t seem to matter much to my kids that most of what’s on the list is the exact same as what we did last year. Things like Go to the Iowa State Fair, Go to the Zoo, Ride a Horse, and Go to the Beach are the same and probably always will be.
We got rid of some things that didn’t work last year. Get Ice Cream from an Ice Cream Truck never worked because I never saw a truck on our street all summer. Not gonna try to do that again. I got rid of the bubble activities from the list, because the “special” bubble solutions and contraptions we made were pretty underwhelming. My kids blow very nice, perfectly fine bubbles all summer long with the cheap concoctions and bubble wands we can get from the store, thank you very much.
I got rid of the glitter firework art that I had on there last year. After having lots of Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentine’s Day projects planned for winter, I determined it’s not awesome to put holiday-specific crafts on the list. Sometimes other holiday plans get in the way or things just don’t work out as planned and you end up making snowflake Christmas ornaments in February as “winter art.” Ahem.
I’m trying to plan ahead, and realizing that we may not be able to make it to a fireworks display for the 4th of July this year, so that’s out, but I did add in Play with Sparklers. I also remember last summer how disappointed Miss was that we didn’t really complete the item “Sleep in a Tent,” since the girls decided to come in and get in their beds at around 10pm. So this year the list just says, “Camp.” No sleeping or overnight shenanigans required. They “went to bed” and spent several hours in a tent with their Dad when we visited my parents last week. I’m calling it “Done,” though Miss wants to try again to stay out all night.
I just love having and doing the list, though a few months ago, I briefly questioned my use of The List for our must-do seasonal activities. I read a post called “I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical.” It’s a great piece, though a little heavy-handed on the “when we were kids” references. I agree with a lot of what the author wrote and with her opinion that parents nowadays can sometimes go overboard trying to make every moment magical for their kids. I’m all about just letting my kids play without needing to make a big experience out of everything.
The author of the post really poo-pooed all the Pinterest-y lists of summer things, and winter things, and birthday themes, and crafts that start with Q, and so on. And since my word for the year is “Open,” I usually try to think about it, at least briefly, when I come across ideas that might seem to contradict something I’m doing or the way I’m thinking about something (my list in this case).
So I thought about it. For about five minutes. I reflected on our list and whether I was going overboard. I asked myself if I was micromanaging all of my kids’ activities or hijacking their free time with my own agenda. I thought about whether I was just stressing myself out trying to do all of these activities because of perceived pressure to do all things Pinterest.
I decided nope. I’m not. My kids spend the vast majority of their play time doing their own thing. Even when we do an activity from our list, sometimes the outcome isn’t what I planned, because they do it their own way, and that’s okay too. And I don’t’ feel any pressure at all to do certain activities with my kids. I actually like doing crafts with them and going on outings that we might not do if I didn’t have that list staring me in the face saying, “DO IT!”
See, I’m sort of a homebody. If left to my own devices, I often tend toward thinking, “That might be fun, but I’m so comfy here at home, and this is so nice and easy, and I’d just like to stay right here.” And so I sometimes avoid outings or adventures, even though when I get off my butt and go do them, I love them and so do my kids. The actual activity or outing is never as stressful or difficult as I sometimes make it out to be in my head while contemplating it.
So having our fun list is actually good for me. It actually doesn’t stress me out at all. Even when I think that we might not get all the things done (I was pretty unsure about whether we’d make it on that skiing trip on the winter list!), it isn’t a source of worry or distress. I did 50 out of 51 things on last summer’s list with a four, two, and one-year old and it was great. There’s nothing on the list that I am forcing myself to do when I really don’t want to (except maybe the glitter craft projects). My kids love it and seeing how excited they get about making the list, doing the activities on it, and checking off the items as we complete them, is totally worth it. So it’s on.
Anyway, back to our list. We already started to complete several of this year’s items while visiting my parents. I mentioned the “camping” above, and you can guess from the photos that we already rode horses, went to the beach, swam in a lake, and built a sand castle. We also went to a park (at the beach), planted our garden, and played barefoot in puddles (a new item this year inspired by the ridiculous amount of water in our front yard this week).
But the best activity we have completed? By far it was the one thing that we did not manage to do at all last year.
The girls absolutely loved catching fireflies. We went out at dusk and waited for what seemed like a really long time. But once those little guys were finally lighting it up, the girls started squealing and screaming and running and laughing like it was the best thing ever. We caught plenty of the glowing bugs. Miss even caught a few by herself. The girls were simultaneously terrified and ecstatic when the bugs got caught in their hair or when one danced on Miss’s nose for several seconds. Though we’ve barely begun, I know this will be one of the best memories of the season.
Summer is so short for us and so glorious. We have to wring every last bit of goodness out of it before the looong cold months arrive again. I’m so excited to do the list again.
In case you’re curious, here’s what’s on the list this year.
Copied from last summer’s list:
- Catch lightning bugs – DONE
- Camp – DONE
- Go fishing
- Ride a horse – DONE
- Go to the Iowa State Fair
- Make Ice Cream
- Make popsicles
- Hunt for bugs
- Go to the beach – DONE
- Pick wildflowers
- Roast marshmallows and eat s’mores
- Raise caterpillars into butterflies
- Go to the zoo
- Go on a treasure hunt
- Swim in a lake or pond – DONE
- Go to a splash pad
- Run through a sprinkler
- Visit a butterfly garden
- Put our sprinkler under the trampoline
- Play hopscotch
- Play with water balloons
- Catch tadpoles
- Go to the Dirty Weird Zoo
- Have a picnic lunch in the yard
- Go for a bike ride
- Read books outside
- Have an outdoor scavenger hunt
- Go for a boat ride
- Go to the farmer’s market
- Go to the park – DONE
- Go to an outdoor concert
- Visit a farm
- Have a cookout and movie night with friends
- Plant a garden – DONE
- Make lemonade
- Pick berries
- Go to some yard sales
- Complete the Summer Reading Program
- Make a fairy house
- Have a dance party in the yard
- Make an art project with outdoor found treasures
New this year:
- Go to a walk-up ice cream stand (the alternative to the truck)
- Play with sparklers (an alternative to watching fireworks)
- Play with moon sand
- Paint with ice paint
- Make a worm habitat
- Make sun catchers
- Make tin-can lanterns
- Play barefoot in puddles – DONE
- Paint with flower-dyed paint
What will you be up to this summer?