I’m a One on the Enneagram and an ESFJ always and forever according to Myers-Briggs. I’m your typical straight-A, type-A firstborn child with a penchant for meal plans and lists. In fact, I specifically researched and then purchased a very particular paper calendar because it had a built-in spot for daily to-do lists. I like a meticulously crafted schedule, boxes just waiting to be checked, recipes with instructions to be followed. I’m a born planner, through-and-through.
So you might think a summer bucket list – a specific collection of summertime “to-dos” – would be right up my alley.
In reality, it stresses me out.
I love the idea of a summer bucket list in theory. In theory, it sounds like fun to create a list of places to go, things to see, foods to eat. I can picture the list in my head, meticulously crafted with multi-colored sharpies on brown Kraft paper, hung on our pantry door with rainbow-colored Washi tape, peeking out now and then in the photos I post to Instagram. (I’m such a planner; I’ve even planned out the thing I’m refusing to ever make. I seriously can’t make it stop.)
The truth is I know my rigid, planner-by-nature type would adhere to that thing like there was no more summer tomorrow. What’s that kids? You want to get ice cream today? Well, too bad because this list (which may as well be written in stone) says we’ve already eaten ice cream and today we need to fly kites!
I would feel compelled to carry out every activity to the Nth degree. I’d carefully research each destination and determine whether to pack or purchase a lunch. I’d prepare matching outfits and appropriate snacks. I’d run out to purchase multiple graham and chocolate options for s’mores night and refresh the weather forecast to find the perfect rainy day for a movie.
(Can I just add here that I’ve seen on Pinterest that some people actually write their summer bucket lists on Popsicle sticks and put them all in a jar and they pull a random one out each day? And then they go do the thing it says? The idea of surprise summer bucket sticks freaks me the heck out. I need a solid four days just to wrap my head around taking three kids to the zoo. But I digress.)
What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard for me to let loose when there are lists involved. A list – even of the bucket sort – is a sort of challenge for me. Let’s jam-pack this schedule of ours. Just how fast can we complete this list? First to get all their boxes checked wins!
All this research and planning is just the opposite of the relaxation that is supposed to be summertime.
Summer is about lazy afternoons and spontaneous trips to the local ice cream shop – even if we’ve already been twice this week. It’s about making plans with friends and discovering a new path at the nature center and splashing in our backyard pool as many days as possible. It’s about hanging out with our neighbors more evenings than not while we collectively scrounge for any and all s’mores components because all too soon we’ll be holed up in our houses to hibernate again.
The kids have their favorite spots – I already know we’re going to make it to our favorite parks and nature centers. We’ll get out to the zoo (after the aforementioned days of mental preparation) and the children’s museum. The pool is going to take up a near-permanent position in our backyard. The neighbors will come over to take play in our sandbox. The kids are going to play T-ball and splash away at swim camp.
We may or may not fly kites or catch fireflies. But I know we’re going to put our ice cream maker to good use. We’re going to sit in our driveway and slurp homemade ice cream out of store-bought cones. We’ll sell freezees from our plastic picnic table at the end of the driveway. We might see fireworks or the kids might be so exhausted that we decide bed is the better (read: only) option and we’ll just try again next year. We’ll watch movies on rainy days and slather on sunscreen for the sunny ones.
The kids will be fine. We’re going to make memories and laugh with each other whether we’re out on an adventure or running around the backyard for the fourth day in a row. And yes, they’re all going to drive me crazy. (The days are long but the summer is longer. Or something like that.)
And if you’re a mama who’s ready to tackle the summer with a bucket list or Popsicle stick spontaneity then I applaud you. I’m a little jealous your anxiety levels can remain unaffected. Either way, we’re going to have awesome summers. We’re going to live in the moment the best we each know how. And still the kids are going to have meltdowns and sometimes bedtime will be just terrible and sweet Jesus you better believe they’re going to fight.
It’s gonna be great.