Because Childhood Summers are Limited (50 Bucket List Ideas)

Friday, June 23, 2017 No comments


The hot day stretched out before me. I had absolutely nothing on the agenda. The calendar box was blank as all of them were. I sat on my daybed writing poetry, aspiring to be a writer someday. When I ran out of words, I began to draw. Horses, unicorns, and rainbows filled the sheets. I've never had much artistic talent, but I wasn't aiming for an award. I was filling my days with the things I enjoyed.

Outside, the sun had been beating down. My bike seat was hot, but it didn't deter me. I rode back and forth, basket bouncing and fringes flying from the handlebars. The 80's summers were unhindered by the constant rings and dings of today's always-online world. It felt slower. Longer. More intentional. 

I recently wrote a post detailing how I felt about the 9 summers I have left before my children are both adults. I am not claiming to be giving my children an 80's summer. In fact, as I write this, one of my children is playing XBox. The other has been on the iPad watching YouTube earlier today. It seems there is no escaping the draw of the screens entirely, but in our dining room is a poster board bucket list filled with experiences that we intend to make into summer memories. In the spirit of the bucket list, here are 50 slow, intentional experiences you can choose from to add to your summer days and nights.

1. Make a bonfire and tell stories.
2. Watch a meteor shower. (The Perseid meteor shower is August 12, 2017)
3. Go to an outdoor movie theater.
4. Blow bubbles and chase them.
5. Pick dandelions and make lots of wishes.
6. Play with water balloons!
7. Run through a sprinkler.
8. Go to an outdoor concert and dance.
9. Spend the day fishing or relaxing by the lake. 
10. Have a sleepover with friends.
11. Stay up late watching a movie marathon. 
12. Create art with sidewalk chalk.
13. Explore local hiking trails.
14. Visit a water park.
15. Watch a fireworks show!
16. Have a barbecue.
17. Make S'mores.
18. Listen to an audio book together.
19. Explore a museum.
20. Make your own slip and slide.
21.Watch a sunset.
22. Wade in a creek.
23. Go berry picking.
24. Camp out in your backyard.
25. Read under a tree.
26. Ride bikes together.
28. Catch fireflies,
29. Play a game of Chess.
30. Take a road trip.
31. Make homemade ice cream
32. Fill out a journal together.
33. Stomp in puddles.
34. Dance in the rain.
35. Watch a sunrise.
36. Take a nature walk.
37. Start a rock collection.
39. Pick a wildflower bouquet.
40. Run your own lemonade stand.
41. Gather up unused and unwanted toys and have a yard sale.
42. Visit your local animal shelter and give them some love.
43. Eat a snow cone.
44. Go to a festival, parade, or carnival.
45. Float down a lazy river.
46. Go swimming.
47. Write poetry.
48. Gaze at the clouds.
49. Create a summer scrapbook.
50. Build a fort.

Great Summer Vacation Ideas

Summer is here, and it is awesome! So far, our family has just taken day trips to our local water park, but I’m excited for the months to come. Unfortunately, though, we haven’t planned any major trips. This won’t be a tropical trip summer, and the ocean isn’t making waves for us anytime soon. However, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for keeping the fun alive and the kiddos entertained.
If you’re still not sure what to plan for the next few months, relax…you have time. Some of the best family memories are made during spur-of-the-moment road trips or day ventures. We drove to Florida last summer, and, even though it was last-minute (and, unfortunately, influenced by a family emergency), we still made the trip memorable for our kids.
Summer vacation is what you make of it. Sure planned-out family vacations are great, but, sometimes, you just have to live and be a bit carefree. Take life by the seat of your pants! Life is a fun adventure, and, maybe that’s why I love summer so much. The warm weather beckons you to get out and explore.
This summer, create family memories with a few unusual travels, trips and explorations. Here are some unique destinations to venture with the kids:
Bonneville Salt Flats (Utah)

Salt? Yes, salt! Unusual, but amazing. The Bonneville Salt Flats are next to…Great Salt Lake! You can camp in areas nearby (not on the flats, though). Beware, temps can be desert-like (try 100 degrees in the summer). Kids will enjoy exploring this unique area and seeing the Great Salt Lake. Just make sure you wear sunglasses with UV protection on the flats; the sun can reflect off the crystals seem incredibly bright to the eyes....some refer to this as “salt blindness!” Give your retinas a break, and protect those eyes on the salt, please!

History lovers or those with a spooktacular sense of vacation can check out Salem, Mass.—the site of the infamous witch hunts! Salem is now a fairly popular little destination, and there are many areas that capitalize on the notoriety of the city’s past. If you’re up for history lessons and a little bit of fright, take a Bewitching tour of the city or a candlight ghost tour. There are also numerous magic shops that sell herbs, candles, spells and other enchanting delights.
Hershey, Pennsylvania

A chocolate-lover’s dream! Head to the headquarters of Hershey’s Chocolate! Hershey’s Chocolate World offers tours for kids to watch how chocolate is made. Guests may even taste-test chocolate and make their own chocolate bars. Hershey, Penn. also is home to Hersheypark—a sweet-themed amusement park! The city offers numerous places to stay and lots of sweet diversions for the family!
State Landmarks
For families who are looking to stay near home, check out your state’s historic sites. Take kids on a history tour of the state by stopping at important landmarks. Or travel to the state capital to give kids a look at their local branch of government. Families may even choose to include the more off-the-wall roadside attractions of their state. Collinsville, Illinois has the World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle!
Throw a Dart
 ‘Throw a Dart’ isn’t a destination…but it is a surefire way to find one. Ready for an insane method to choose your next travel destinations? Tack a map of the United States (or just your state) and throw a dart at the map. Where it lands is where you’ll go! The dart decides…and there are no second throws. The point of the dart game is to go where you might never venture. Just hope you don’t land in the ocean!
Summer is adventure! If you haven’t selected a summer vacation hot spot, find someplace out of the ordinary this year. Kids will enjoy the mystery and excitement of a new destination, and a crazy unusual vacation means that they will have some equally crazy stories to tell their friends!



Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 




Children Need a Safe Place to Feel Bad

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 No comments


I don’t think I’m alone in this – I hate when my children feel bad. I don’t want them to have to feel sadness or loneliness, grief or pain. I wish they were in a permanent bubble of joy, and no bad feelings could touch them. When they come home from school feeling sad because they were rejected or when they feel angry because something didn’t go as they’d hoped or planned, my initial reaction is to make it better. Then come the questions I desperately want to ask. “Why did he not let you play?” “What did you do?” “Why did the teacher say that?” “What did your brother do to you?” I’ve learned to breathe through those initial reactions (most of the time) because in my 11 years of parenting, I’ve learned that they don’t need 20 questions nor do they necessarily need me to fix it. What my kids really need is a safe place to feel bad.

That’s hard, isn’t it? Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable when they feel bad. Their sadness becomes my sadness; their pain is my pain. That’s par for the course in parenting, but allowing them space to feel all their feelings, even the rough, prickly ones, is a tremendous gift. Let’s look at parents’ typical responses to negative feelings:

1. The Dismiss – “Oh, cheer up. It can’t be that bad.” “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.” “If that’s your biggest problem, you’re pretty lucky.” We just want them to learn some perspective, right? A broken toy isn’t the end of the world. Kid problems seem really small in comparison to our adult problems, but to our kids, kid problems are the only problems they know, and they feel just as big to them as our adult problems feel to us. In fact, how they learn to handle the kid problems now will have a big impact on their overall happiness and success in life. When we dismiss their feelings, they either learn not to trust their own emotions (Why does this bother me so much if it’s not a big deal? What’s wrong with me?) or they may feel like we just don’t truly care about their emotional world or that don’t “get them,” and that harms our relationships.


Try this: Instead of “it can’t be that bad,” try telling your child about a time you experienced something similar and how you felt at the time. Feeling like their parents understand and empathize with them helps them feel closer to us, and connection is important in guarding against depression and addiction.

2. The Fixer. “I’m sorry Zack hurt your feelings. I’ll call his mother and talk to her about it.” “I can’t believe you got a C on this. I can see why you’re mad! You worked so hard. I’m going to see your teacher.” “I know you’re sad that your cat died. We’ll go get you another cat.” It feels like we are doing right by them, stepping up to fix the problem, but it isn’t always the appropriate response. Sometimes we can fix it, but sometimes they need to fix it themselves, or just accept that sometimes, things are bad for a while. That’s life. We’ve all heard the stories of parents still coming to college to intervene, and if we don’t step back and let kids deal with the tough stuff sometimes, that might end up being us! A deeper problem with being “the fixer” is that kids learn that bad feelings are, well bad and need to be avoided at all costs. They become extremely uncomfortable when things don’t go their way and may always be looking for a fix, which could lead to dangerous territory. Kids need to know that bad feelings are normal too. Emotionally intelligent children learn how to feel their anger or sadness and move through it without letting it become destructive.

Try this: “I’m sorry you’re feeling bad. Would you like a hug?” One of the toughest but most mature things we can do as parents is to learn to hold space for our children through tough emotions and not become engulfed in them ourselves. This is especially true with anger as it often evokes our own anger that we have to breathe through. We have to be the steady captain when the waters get choppy so that our children feel safe with us. When we sit with them through their bad feelings instead of rushing to fix everything, they learn that bad feelings are temporary anyway, and that’s a really important lesson.

3. The Isolator. ...Continue reading at Creative Child Magazine