At the beginning of summer, there is a mom with a cute poster board with empty check boxes beside a series of “Bucket List” activities waiting to be done. In theory, this is a great positive approach to a summer of sunny opportunity!
Then July comes, and the excitement fizzles. Mom is tired. Kids fight because they’re bored or whatever reason of the day. Everyone is “experienced out” and the bucket list has gone to pot. August comes before the chlorine is washed from Mom’s hair and the overall feeling is that she didn’t give her kids a good summer experience.
I was “burnt out Mom,” feeling like I let my kids down with summer expectations starting high and ending low. Then, I created the idea of a “Reverse Bucket List.” The kids and I sit down and list out all the experiences we had, places we went, and achievements we made in our summer together.
This is a highlight reel of sorts, but also a time where we can look outside of the box and into “season changes.” In what areas of personal development were there changes? I ask the kids to share what they saw their siblings achieve and brag on themselves as well. For example, my son started basketball lessons this summer and has been working hard even on the hottest of days. I’ve seen his self-discipline as well as the number of times he gets the basket in the hoop improve! That’s a summer win!
Some simple things make the list like staying up way later than past summers because my kids now sleep in. (Moms of toddlers, hang in there!) Even further, our family prays about most everything. So when God answers those prayers, that’s for sure a gratitude that gets added to our end of summer list.
Teaching my kids gratitude for where they are in life and the opportunities they have had is a big goal. As an adult, I miss that a lot. I get so caught up in what I want a season to look like that I forget the shifts in reality, that expectations aren’t perfection, and the simple things of life are even better than I could ever plan for. I get to the finish line of a goal or check off a favorite vacation from my mental bucket list and then what? I’m onto the next thing too quickly without harvesting gratitude for what was just done.
If you have found yourself at the end of summer break feeling less than, comparing yourself to others’ highlights, I encourage you to make your own Reverse Bucket List! It’s so sweet to see what kids come up with. Similar simple gratitude I have from my summers as a kid are eating chips and ham sandwiches by the pool while my mom tanned, spending the night with my friends, and catching lightning bugs.