In Defense of the Summer List

But when you think about it, summer break is really pretty short. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to fill so little time with so much activity?... a neatly checked-off “summer bucket list” isn’t a requirement of being a good mom.
— Megan Francis, The Happiest Home

On the one hand, I agree. Of course, one doesn’t need a summer list to have a season filled with sunshine and happy memories.


I have a summer list and I love it. 

Spray park - CHECK!

Spray park - CHECK!

I made it at the beginning of May, printed it out, and hung it in our kitchen. Over the past few months, we’ve been slowly checking one activity off after the other. 

I won’t lie and say I feel no pressure to complete the list. I’m a completist from way back. Lists keep me motivated. Lists keep me focused. If too many days pass filled with Sesame Street and errands, my summer list reminds me that these warm, wonderful days are in short supply and we better make the most of them.

My summer list is a good mix of simple pleasures and the special experiences that make a summer. Plus, I leave lots of wiggle room. I’m not sure if we’ll make it to the zoo but the Nature Station at Land between the Lakes is just as good. Check! We made it downtown for the Saturday night street fair...even if we got rained out minutes later. Check!

Sandcastle - CHECK!

Sandcastle - CHECK!

It's not even just about my kids. I've been wanting to take a canoe trip with my husband forever. I'd see the trips on the LBL calendar and think, "I want to do that!" Then, I put it on the list and it was NOT going unchecked. We went on a canoe trip over Memorial Day weekend. Just us. It had been so long since we did an "activity" - not just dinner and a movie - together. We had a blast and I have the summer list to thank. 

The best part is I’ve noticed the list has motivated our friends and family. People constantly ask me how the summer list is coming. A close friend printed out a list of her own. Several family members have commented that they love to see us check items off via Instagram and Facebook. 

Canoe Trip - CHECK!

Canoe Trip - CHECK!

My favorite moment came when my in-law’s came for a visit. My mother-in-law brought water balloons because they wanted to be a part of the summer list - which contains a now checked off “Water balloon toss”. Maybe she would have brought the water balloons anyway but I loved that the list was a big part in creating a very special memory for everyone.

The summer list is only a source of positivity - not pressure. (Click to tweet.) There will be no penalties if items go unchecked. The list is for us and no one else. 

And there will definitely be another one next summer.

Do you have a summer list? If so, is it a source of pressure or positivity?