Living in Minnesota means that I spend about 8 1/2 months a year looking forward to summer and all the spoils that come along with it. The only thing that makes enduring Minnesota winters worth it and soaking up all that Minnesota summers have to offer. The problem is that they offer so much and there is such a limited window of time in which to take advantage of those offers.
Going into my first summer as a stay-at-home mom, I knew that I wanted to be intentional about doing as many of those things as I could. I’d seen ‘Summer Bucket Lists’ that my friends did with their kids and I loved the idea. I also knew that I had so many ideas of summer activities that floated through my head through the non-summer months, that if I didn’t write them down, I’d forget them and get to September and realize that I never did fill-in-the-blank. And I hate living with regrets, so I made a list.
Upon completing the list, my OCD kicked in. I decided that an arbitrary list of activities wouldn’t be helpful to me without some sort of timetable. I found three pieces of tag board and made calendars on each of them. Using my cricut, I cut out the letters for ‘June’, ‘July’ and ‘August’. That’s about as artsy as I get. I wrote each of the bucket list items on a small post-it. I wanted to be able to map out the calendar of activities, but I also knew that there was no way that I could know in June what day in August would be best to make a Cheerio necklace. I also made a ‘To Do’ board for the activities that weren’t yet scheduled.
I hung the calendars and to-do list on the wall by our basement steps. It was a high-traffic area where I was reminded each day of the things I wanted to do.
Here’s the thing. It became more of a task to get post-its off the ‘To Do’ list and on to a calendar. I wouldn’t say that it went so far as to take the fun out of summer, but what was intended to maximize our summer days became a little bit of a chore. In hindsight, I made what I assume is the typical rookie mistake: I had WAY too many activities on our ‘To Do’ List. By the middle of August, I made peace with the fact that not every post-it would leave the ‘To Do’ list. I decided that the goal of the ‘To Do’ list was to give me ideas of fun things to do with my family and make the most of these wonderfully warm Minnesota days; not to be one more thing that just had to get done before September came.
That was a game changer.
After summer, I decided to make family to-do calendars for the fall as well. I had learned my lesson (or so I thought), and I was due with Baby #2 in October, so I wanted to make sure to enjoy the last few days with just one child and make sure that I didn’t use pregnancy/newborn as an excuse not to enjoy all the things I love about my favorite season of the year. I was very conservative in our activities for the Fall.
Not conservative enough. It turns out that taking care of a newborn AND a toddler is a perfectly good excuse to let fall fly by. I should have made post-its that said ‘Keep 2 children alive’, ‘Change 10-12 diapers a day’, or ‘Shower once a week’. (Now that I think of it, only two of the three of those would have made it from the ‘To Do’ board to the calendar. I’ll let you guess which ones….) By the end of November, more post-its were on the ‘To Do’ board than on the calendars, but I’m okay with it. We had a great fall. And we did a lot of fun things. And we became a family of four. AND I kept 2 children alive. Success.
It took me two seasons to learn a few important lessons, but now that I have, the Family To Do calendars are here to stay. It’s a great way to be intentional about getting the most out of these days with young kids and create memories with my family. I look forward to when the kids are big enough to help me make the lists.