Just Say NO to the Summer Bucket List


Summer is short here in Vermont. We got a rare May preview of it when it hit 80 for a few days in a row before we even got our snow tires off.

This brief glimpse of summer made me dig in my heels and make a promise to myself: I’m saying no to the summer bucket list.

You see, the heat wave was welcome for a number of reasons. As I said, summers are short here which means winters are long. Very long. Those first warm days of shedding layers, putting out the patio furniture, and having picnics at the playground are full of joy and excitement for what is to come.

View of Lake Champlain under puffy little cloud clusters

Then the weather cools again, and we head back inside and do the winter to summer changeover of clothes, shoes, linens, and ideas of what to do with our time. Instead of being outside from sunup to sundown, absorbing every sun’s ray and eating way too many creemees, we are homebound again. This is when most people start writing summer bucket lists, those elaborate and exhaustive lists of what to do with the extended bliss of summer vacation.

Wait. Did you hear that part? VACATION. 

People have forgotten how to relax. In our society, we are praised for being overly productive, always keeping busy, and constantly doing new and exciting things (while taking Instagram-worthy photos, of course) we have lost our ability to just be.

Little girl playing with rocks by the riverside

My family and I will likely do all the summer things we dreamed about in the icy winter months, we’ll have all the adventures and enjoy all the creemees, but I’m not going to follow a summer bucket list. 

We are going to take our summer day by day, sometimes minute by minute.

From the last day of school, you only have about eleven weeks to do as you please until you’re packing those lunches into little backpacks again. (This is your friendly reminder to unpack the lunch boxes when your kiddo comes home singing “School’s Out For Summer”!) 

The abbreviated nature of the period of gorgeous weather in Vermont makes some people anxious to fit in as much as possible while the sun is high in the sky. I am not anxious. And I normally love lists! I am a type-A Virgo who is not spontaneous, thrives on using itineraries, and always likes to know what happens next. I enjoy the concept of knowing where we want to explore, what to do when we get there, and previewing the menu before we get to the restaurant.

For this summer though, I am taking a stand. I am saying no to the summer bucket list. 

I refuse to put pressure on myself and my family to get it all done. Being overscheduled, overstimulated, and overtired is no fun. When you strictly follow that summer bucket list and adventure hop from one big event to the next, you miss out on so many other amazing things. You become addicted to being entertained in the same way people get hooked on screens. Going from one big thing to the next creates a sense of always longing for the next best thing.

We need to slow down. We need to say no to the summer bucket list. 

Little girl relaxing on a picnic blanket

Put the brakes on trying to make every day the most fun one the kids ever had and sit back and enjoy creating memories as they come. Let’s be bored and see what happens. We live most of our adult lives planning and preparing for something or another, but I want my children to learn the value of being bored. 

Two little girls making a nature "pizza pie"

I want them to have a sense of wonder, to spend time staring at cloud formations, playing in the dirt, or following ants to their hill. I want them to get creative and make up games and songs, build teepees, and craft daisy crowns to wear on our walk to the corner store for popsicles. I don’t want them longing for the next best thing while life is happening all around them every day. They’re only little once. They’ll be busy with life’s everyday demands before we know it. 

Four children playing near a swimming hole

I consider this unscheduled time in their lives a gift. It is also a beautiful reminder for all of us to see the world through their eyes and rediscover what is truly important.

The simple things that I did as a kid are what I remember most fondly from my childhood. Riding bikes through the neighborhood with my friends, running through the sprinkler at my Grandmother’s house with my cousins, playing board games in a tent in the backyard. Those are the things that pop into my head and fill my heart with joy. Of course, I had fun at Playland, and the road trips to petting zoos and waterparks were unforgettable.

I believe everyone should do those things, too, but please don’t forget to take the time to just be. Say no to the summer bucket list and just be.

Friends watching the sunset together by the lake

So, why don’t you take the pressure off this season by saying no to the summer bucket list. It’s okay to have a mental list of places, activities, and wishes, but leave time to put your feet up, breathe, and soak in the shortest season. Don’t go into September tired and frazzled wondering where the time went. Summer is sweet and short (yes, in that order). It is a time to reflect, relax and recharge. 

Let me know what you think – can you just say no to the summer bucket list?


Pin this post and be sure to follow Vermont Mom on Pinterest!Just say no to the summer bucket list

Vermont Mom Insiders get exclusive content that you do not want to miss, so sign up today!



    • Haha, love it! In between the go go go we will remember to be still and breathe, also. Thanks for commenting, Joanne! 🙂


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here