Anxiety Mom Parenting

Summer Bucket List and Facing Fears of Commitments

I hate commitments. The second I make plans, my anxiety takes over. By the time the actual event arrives, I’m so tired of thinking about it that I just want to go to bed—even if the activity is something that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. In the summer, we help overcome that by creating a summer bucket list and it forces me into making plans and having fun with the kids.

It’s basically forced fun. If I didn’t have this list, it’s likely we would sleep in, sit around our house and probably not do anything worthwhile all summer long. Especially now that I’m feeling more introverted, it’s harder and harder to push myself outside of the walls of our house and into doing fun things with the kids.

Each summer, I make a list of things we can do. We aren’t “feet against the fire” with this list. If some don’t get done, it’s fine. It just gives us a really good guide. And I like checklists! I’m more apt to do the things on the list if they are presented before me and the kids are excited about them. In fact, they talk about things we’ve done several summer ago that were on the list. Fpr example, last year, one activity was to attend vacation Bible school at a new church. They stepped up. They braved the new situation and they loved it. They have even decided to go there for VBS this summer—and it’s not on the list.

I pick things that I know we will easily be able to accomplish so that we can get moving on the list and strike up the motivation to want to do more.

Someone recently asked me how we make the list. It’s actually a year in the making.

  • I take ideas from previous years that have been successful and modify them to make them new. Last year we watched the sun rise on the east side of Michigan in the morning and watched it set on the west side that same evening. This year, I modified it so that we could watch it rise and set over the same lake. I already have a plan for this one.
  • I take suggestions from the kids. They suggested things like backyard movie and bike ride to a picnic.
  • I mix in easy and more challenging activities. Doing a large puzzle is not nearly as intense as going to visit our state capitol or creating book reviews for library books.
  • Some are educational. Some are “busy work.” Hey, if teachers can do it, so can I.
  • Pinterest is my source for art projects. I pick a few that I know they will like but can also be done outside in case they make a mess.
  • I don’t overwhelm us. We have camping trips, birthday parties, swim days at grandmas and I have to work. I don’t like packing our schedule every single day because it is an opportunity to slow it down and get some rest too.

The kids really look forward to this list each year. They ask for it in the last month of school and really want to know what’s going to be on the final list. I do have the challenge of trying to come up with activities that appeal to my 11-year-old, but also my five-year-old.

The list also comes with rules: This is a family list. They can’t do the activities with grandma or friends and then check them off the list. Either myself, my husband or both of us have to be present and all three girls have to be involved.

I do look at these items on the list and think, “Why? I’d rather stay home!” But I know that being able to accomplish some cool things together really sticks with my kids. We make memories. We see things. We get to know each other on a different level. And we always have a good time.

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