The past several months have brought about much stress, uncertainty and changes of plans. For many months, our family had looked forward to an exciting trip to Disney World- meticulously plotted and planned - from highly-anticipated rides to the most enchanting character meals. But, sadly, like many others, we found our vacation plans upended because of the coronavirus. Instead of visiting the most magical place on earth, we are enjoying a thrilling “staycation” this year. The thought at first was a bit disappointing. We’ve already been at home for months. What could possibly make this staycation fun and exciting? My 11-year-old son Charlie and I – determined to make the summer special - decided to create a summer bucket list.
First, we thought of all of the things we enjoy doing. He loves being outdoors. I love being crafty and cooking. He enjoys playing at the pool and in the water. I enjoy gardening and plants. Before long, we had created a bucket list filled with fun. It may not be as magical as Disney, but it definitely will be as memorable.
#1 Backyard Water Park
If the local water park isn’t yet opened or if it’s too crowded for your liking, set up your own. Order some inexpensive sprinklers, water guns, water balloons and slip-n-slide and have a blast!
#2 Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is fun for kids of all ages – and can even be done virtually with out-of-town friends and family. Simply make a list of items that must be found around town or at home. Team members must find the items and bring them back. If done with friends and family virtually, then teams must share a photo of the item. Many scavenger hunt lists can be found online.
#3 A Very Merry Unbirthday Party
For years, my parents hosted “Gramps Camp” for all of the grandchildren. One of the components of Gramps Camp was an “Unbirthday” party to celebrate all of the kiddos all at once. Blow up lots of balloons, bake an outrageous cake and decorate it – don’t forget to blow out the candles- and sing A Very Merry Unbirthday (see Disney’s Alice in Wonderland’s Madhatter tea party for reference). You can even encourage the participants to make gifts for each other.
#4 Movie Under the Stars
Set up an outdoor movie theater. Just hang a large drop cloth or sheet or use the garage door as a backdrop. Movie projectors for outdoor use can be found on Amazon for a semi-reasonable price. (But the memories are priceless!)
#5 Go Camping!
Check and see if local campgrounds are open and go enjoy the great outdoors. Or, pitch a tent in your own backyard. Grill some hotdogs, roast some marshmallows, make some s’mores, and you’re all set!
#6 Get crafty. One fun thing to do is make your own play dough/fidget putty. Here’s an easy recipe: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, ½ cup salt, 2 Tbsp cream of tartar, 1 to 1.5 cups hot water (added slowly till it’s the right texture) and gel food coloring.
#7 Sew Some Seeds
Grow something you’ve never grown before – like pumpkins! Or, if you’re not quite that ambitious, a lovely little flower bed. Enjoy some time outdoors together and literally watch the seeds of your labor come to fruition.
#8 Backyard Obstacle Course
Did the kids miss field day this year? Create an obstacle course in your own backyard! Set up a row of chairs to crawl under; line up hula hoops to run through; walk on a balance beam board; dribble a soccer ball in and out of cones; toss balls or beanbags into a bucket. Let your kiddos help create the course.
#9 Learn Something New
Learn something new – like how to play chess or the strum a song on a ukulele. Think of something you’d like to learn together and go for it!
#10 Go Exploring
Load up the mini-van and head to a place you’ve never visited before. Be a tourist in your own town! Some great options: Grapevine Botanical Garden (featured in this issue); Fossil Rim; or Grandbury … Enjoy the day and gain a new appreciation for your surroundings.
#11 Have a Designated Lazy Day
Why not? It’s summer! Have a designated Lazy Day each week or every other week. Rainy days make the best lazy days. Dress code: pajamas. Activities: movie watching, book reading, puzzle doing. Just enjoy being with each other with no set agenda.