Today’s marks the official FIRST DAY OF SUMMER. Moms everywhere are grabbing their guilt-ridden pencils to scratch out a Bucket List of Summer Fun. I get it. I’ve been there–and done that. But after almost killing myself to provide the perfect Summer Vacation, I learned our family needs a summer filled with less doing and more being. So here’s what happened. . .
The Summer I Kicked the Bucket:
After a year of planning and saving for the perfect summer vacation, my husband and I strapped our three year old into his car seat and grabbed our family fun bucket list filled to the brim.
Our destination? Disney World. Where magic happens, memories are made, and dreams come true.
Our magical journey was a long one—eight hours each way—filled with stops for a carsick kid, plenty of potty breaks, and too many Are we there yet?s to count.
Our son was too young to even remember.
As for my husband and me? It’s a blurred week of long lines, blistered feet, and an emptied bank account. When we returned the next week in need of a recovery vacation, I knew it was time to reevaluate my motives and readjust my expectations.
What was I trying to accomplish with over-the-top activities for a kid who’d much rather sing along with Veggie Tales than spin in oversized tea cups?
The problem, for me, involved guilt as a working mom.
Time away from my son had never been easy. And as a school teacher, I viewed summer breaks as my only opportunity to make up for lost time. Yet in an effort to rid the guilt, I created an impossible to-do list that left me feeling overwhelmed and disappointed.
The next summer, I kicked my overachieving bucket to the curb and refilled a new one with a lot less stress and reasonable expectations.
We watched puppet shows, magic tricks, and touched an alligator—all free programs offered at our local library. More important, we spent valuable time together creating family memories never to be forgotten.
A Summer Bucket List can be loads of fun or filled with disaster. Here are three practical ways to keep your own bucket from tipping in the wrong direction:
Keep It Real
Be realistic about your expectations and your wallet. Consider travel time, age appropriateness, and hidden expenses. With unexpected costs, even a day trip to the zoo can end with a blown budget. Instead, check your local newspaper for family fun days in your area or use the last days of summer to explore your own backyard. Spend a day working puzzles or churn some homemade ice cream.
Keep it Simple
A bucket list shouldn’t be complicated. As a child, my fondest memories include simple evenings catching fireflies or eating watermelon with cousins over discarded newspaper. What you do is not as important as who you’re doing it with.
Keep it Fun
Memories are made in the moment.
Have fun. Laugh, play, and enjoy the simple summer days, that will all, too soon, slip away.
Ever experience a ‘work-filled’ Summer Vacation? Share your stories with us.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld says
Refreshing wisdom and truth for a world of overburdened moms! My kids memories were all home-grown. Keep it up, Mitzi!
just trying to keep it real-and enjoy the journey at the Smith house 🙂
When our girls were little and I was pastoring a very tiny church in Wisconsin, which meant we were away from family and friends and creativity on a shoestring was the norm. Our most favorite thing was to pack a small picnic lunch and head to a park. I can still hear the squeals of delight when we announced our plans for lunch.
Isn’t that funny, Tina? As parents, we try to make ‘big’ plans for ‘big’ memories. Kids define ‘big’ memories as those moments when they have our full attention. Guess that’s another blog post!
thanks for the great comment
Susan Stilwell says
This line make my heart skip a beat: “I viewed summer breaks as my only opportunity to make up for lost time.” I was a stay-at-home mom who couldn’t compete with the working moms’ plans. (Okay, why do moms always compare themselves? UGH)
You’re so right, Mitzi — the simple things really are the best. Now that my kids are grown, those are the sweet things that stand out in my kids’ memories. Our lone Disney memory classifies as a misadventure!
Susan, love your honest comment about the Disney misadventure–how often have I chosen misadventures over simple more enjoyable moments?
Now, I try to just BE in the moments and I know my family life is all the better for it.
thanks for the comment!