Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer Bucket List Challenge: Choosing Quality Family Time

It's important to us that Gates values experiences over things, that she's happy with what she has and not mindlessly chasing wants. So, to start a tradition of choosing summer activities that involve the whole family, we're participating in The Happy Family Movement's 2013 Summer Bucket List Challenge.

By "we" I don't mean just our immediate family. I'm also including my parents who live nearby and my sister.
Why a summer bucket list with a toddler? Because good habits start young. Also, unless you list out the things you want to experience, the time to do those things may have come and gone.
Some context before I get to our bucket list. My parents live nearby and care for Gates four days a week. With this arrangement, it's easy to overlook quality family time. When I quit my job in December, cubes and I opted not to go away to Monterrey over the winter holidays. It wasn't until I was looking to include my parents in our family outings -- Gates' first trip to the zoo -- that I realized while I saw my parents four days a week I wasn't spending quality time with them. Enter the motivation for a bucket list.
A bucket list helps a family identify what's important to them, discuss what can and can't be done with budget constraints, and plan for activities everyone looks forward to and will remember for years to come.

Bucket lists are for families of all sizes, with and without kids. Remember the old adage you can't manage what you can't you measure? The same is true for relationships. If you don't spell out what you want and make time for it, it probably won't happen, and you'll be left wondering where did all the time go.

This year's challenge officially kicks off on May 20th so you still have time to sign up and to come up with your list.
Here's our bucket list. It's primary theme? Raising a foodie of course! 1) Tend a garden. 2) Visit an apple orchard. 3) Visit an apricot orchard. 4) Pick strawberries. 5) Make berry ice cream. 6) Sip tea at the Japanese Tea Gardens. 7) Have a picnic in Mission Dolores Park. 8) Have ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. 9) Have a picnic in Golden Gate Park.
We have other non-foodie activities as well. 10) Check out a book each week from the library. 11) Visit all of the neighborhood parks. 12) Watch the miniature sailboats in Golden Gate Park. 13) Visit Children's Fairyland. 14) Visit the Academy of Sciences. 15) Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 16) See the baby tiger at the zoo. 17) Ride a pony. 18) Ride a carousel. 19) Ride a train. 20) Put our feet in the Pacific Ocean. 21) Have a family portrait taken.

What are you waiting for?
Join the 2013 Summer Bucket Challenge today!

Here are some tips to get your bucket list started.

Tips for Compiling a Doable Bucket List

  1. Identify how much time you have available. This should be a range from the minimum time you'd like to spend together to your if-the-planets-aligned stretch goal. Our stretch goal would be one activity every Saturday or Sunday throughout the summer.
  2. Look at how much time you can spend together unplugged. Don't think about how many activities you want to do; a bucket list is about quantity of focused time not quantity of items checked off.
  3. Map blocks of available time on to a calendar. Be sure to include work deadlines and trips. Planning a family outing the day before a big deliverable may do more harm than good. You want everyone to look forward to your time together. If at the last minute you need to cancel, your kids might not understand and you'll feel bad. Set yourself up to be a hero.
  4. Determine how much money you can spend. Notice that I said can not have or want. Creating memorable experiences doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Have everyone prioritize their activities and assign costs. Costs for an activity should include admission fees, travel costs including parking, and food as appropriate.
  5. Start placing activities on your calendar, ensuring everyone gets their top priority or an acceptable compromise. For activities that require an admission fee, choose days when you have larger blocks of time. Look for free admission days, and plan your visit for then. If a free day doesn't map up, start looking for and saving coupons.
  6. Place your planned activities in a prominent place in your home. Be creative, try a tree with activities as leaves and start removing leaves as you complete them. Or have a puzzle that reveals a surprise as you add activities.
Ciao Bella!
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