Summer Bucket List for Kids: The Hot-Mess Mom Edition

summer bucket list for kids
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Hey squirrelfrans! So I dunno where you are reading this from but summer has arrived in FULL force here this week. And with Miss Rona messing up some of our go-to summer activities, my kids and I have been feeling a little extra… well extra. So in order to get some fun-in-the-sun inspiration, I decided to do what every well-meaning mom does for ideas these days… I hit Pinterest. Specifically, I was looking for “summer bucket list” ideas to get us out of the house but, ya know, not TOO far out… cuz germies.

Take a look at what I found:

summer bucket list
😱Right?😱 Check out the pin here.

So, before I go any further I would just like to say, thank goodness for the Pinterest moms. I love you. I admire you. I want to be you when I grow up.

Everything else I am about to say comes from a place of petty jealousy.

Because I am NOT a Pinterest mom. Maybe it is my kids. I have long suspected that my womb-goblins are a special kind of difficult. But mostly I think it is a lack of organizational skills, imagination, and motivation that have landed me squarely in the hot-mess mom camp. I’m not saying I haven’t had my occasional moments of Pinterest worthy glory. But they are VERY few, VERY far between and VERY exhausting.

So while I LOVE the ideas on this summer bucket list, as a hot-mess mom of unruly offspring I can see a lot of ways that these activities could quickly descend into sadness or outright anarchy.

And thus, I present to you my alternative version of some of the items on this summer bucket list. No matter where you fall on the Pinterest mom to hot-mess mom spectrum, these altered activities are very doable. Cuz let’s face it, 2020 has even the best of us at the end of our rope and we could all use a lil break.

Summer Bucket List Item # 1: Set Up a Lemonade Stand

The Expectation

This summer bucket list item holds a lot of promise if you have a budding entrepreneur who needs some of their summer hours filled. They learn a sense of responsibility and get a taste of being their own boss. Bonus: there is an off chance that they actually make some money and will briefly stop asking you for yours.

The Reality

I can almost guarantee that everything from “acquiring” premises to production, distribution, and sales will end up being a lot more work for YOU than your kids. Mine would also, likely, drink more product than they sell and wind up on the sugar-high to end all sugar-highs. I don’t even want to contemplate the mess in my kitchen and how much stickier (cuz let’s be real everything here is always a little sticky) my whole life would be. Plus, there are (apparently) permits and legal implications to take into account. Yes, you read that last part right.

The Alternative

Convince your kids that bringing you lemonade is a fun activity and pay them every time they do. Selling this to your kids as “fun” may require you to pull out some of your persuasive skills but I promise you that this will cost you much less effort and money than an actual stand. For maximum “fun” have them bring it to you in for favourite poolside chair and keep a flask of your favourite adult beverage as a fun lemonade additive.

Summer Bucket List Item # 2: Pick Berries

strawberry picking

The Expectation

This summer bucket list item promises family fun in the sun with the added bonus of a delicious treat to take home at the end. Beautiful green fields. Bright red berries. Cute kids. The insta-worthy photos practically take themselves.

The Reality

Have you ever actually been strawberry picking? It is back-breaking work. Literally. Cuz you know where strawberries grow? On the damn ground! So you are bent over or knelt down the whole time. My knees ache just thinking about it. In my experience, it is also inevitably 400 degrees when you are strawberry picking. And your kids will be bored after about .67 seconds of it.

The Alternative

Buy some strawberries from a local stand or market and hide them, easter egg style, around your backyard for your kids to find. This way, you have supported your local growers, obtained a delicious treat, and amused your kids in one fell swoop. Kick back with another glass of boozy lemonade, to celebrate the aches and sunburns you’ve avoided, and make your kids bring you some berries to snack on.

Summer Bucket List Item # 3: Make Homemade Ice Cream

homemade ice cream

The Expectation

Wondering what to do with your delicious, hand-picked berries? This summer bucket list is a great solution! Who doesn’t want to enjoy a homemade, delicious way to cool down on a hot day? You also have control over what goes into it, making it a healthy alternative to other hot-weather treats.

The Reality

Much like the lemonade situation, I’m going to bet that this summer bucket list activity is going to be a lot of mess and work for you. Best case scenario? You spend several hours of your life working for a bowl of ice cream. I am no investment specialist but that is a trade that seems undesirable to me. Worst case scenario? You end up with a sticky bowl of something that in no way resembles ice cream. I honestly cannot imagine anything more disappointing.

The Alternative

Save yourself some headache and buy some damn ice cream. Everyone will be happier for not having to wait to indulge. If you are feeling truly passionate about the homemade part of this item, enlist your mom, superchef friend, or has-every-kitchen-gadget family member to AT LEAST help you. Bonus points if you can con them into doing it for you. (More celebratory lemonade?)

Summer Bucket List Item # 4: Go to the Lake

The Expectation

Playing on the beach. Cooling off in the water. Lovely tans for everyone. This summer bucket list item is a staple for a lot of people. And with good reason. There is something about being on the water that just makes life feel a little better.

The Reality

Please don’t come for me with pitchforks. I do love taking my kids to the lake… mostly. There is a lot of prep work involved before, during, and after a “lazy” day at the beach. Packing the kids in the car. Packing all of the stuff you need for a day at the beach (I feel like a second car is necessary just for this). The endless cycle of snacks, sunscreen, and swim diaper changes the whole time you are there. Granted Lil Helper has some great swim gear to take some of the work out of things. But I feel like I never get to enjoy a day at the lake as much as I expect to. Also, SAND EVERYWHERE. And sand is the glitter of the natural world.

The Alternative

Kiddie pools are like $20. This time of year you can probably get one on clearance. This keeps you close to home, all of your essentials, and a bathroom for when someone inevitably pees, poops, or barfs.

Summer Bucket List Item # 7: Turn a Cardboard Box into a Castle

cardboard box castle
Source: TipJunkie

The Expectation

Your kids having hours of fun in your spectacular castle creation. Imaginative play and brain development galore. Your children living their best life playing out every knight, princess, dragon, or medieval storyline they have ever seen on TV.

The Reality

First off, any time I bring out tape or scissors is an opportunity for my 1-year-old to get a hold of them and use them on the cat. Secondly, I don’t know about you, but my engineering degree got lost in the mail, and castle construction is more complex than YouTube makes it appear. Finally, I see this lasting about 10 glorious minutes before someone tries to climb out the window and the whole shoddily-constructed thing comes crashing down.

The Alternative

Save yourself a lot of time and trying not to swear in front of your children. Throw literally ANY box or box-like container in their direction and watch the fun commence. Children and cats are incapable of trying to wedge them into whatever box or bag you put in front of them and seem very content and amused when doing so.

Exhibit A:

summer bucket list box fort

Exhibit B:

Summer Bucket List Item # 6: Play Monopoly

The Expectation

Fun family board game time. A chance to bond and teach your kids about budgeting all at the same time.

The Reality

We all know why this is a bad idea.

The Alternative

I dunno. Step barefoot on Lego? Melt crayons on your hand? Watch that thing your kid loves that makes you want to jump out a window? All of these would be less painful than family board game time usually ends up being. So just don’t.


All kidding aside, summer really is my favourite time of year. And a lot of these summer bucket list items seem like a lot of fun, especially when some of my less inspired summer go-to’s are off the table due to local restrictions.

But if you don’t feel like you are up to

summer bucket list

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