Making a Family Bucket List

Parenthood.  It has changed everything.

Snot on my sweater goes unnoticed.  Hobbies gather dust in the closet.  Kissing away the boo-boos and wiping away tears become daily ritual.  Screams, laughter, tantrums, and toys crashing to the floor become the household white noise.  All my Facebook status updates are about my kids.

Some people manage to continue their lives with style.

Me?  I’m just tired.  And I need a haircut.  Smartypants would say I need a lot of other things too…

It used to make me sad how much life had changed from back when it was just Smartypants and I.   Exploring hobbies and interests at our whim.  Working on DIY projects at home.  Volunteering our time and dreaming big.  Planning trips that were off-the-beaten path.  Cooking gourmet meals and eating together leisurely.  Staying up late to eat ice cream and play boardgames.

I used to mourn our transition to parenthood.  I tried to hold on and continue our lives the way we wanted, with the addition of little Momo.   It kind of worked for the first 6 months.  Then Momo walked at 8 months and we’ve been chasing after him ever since.  Then Tigerlily was born and we have since shifted into survival mode.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love being a mommy.  Despite some of his laments, I know Smartypants adores being a daddy.  We wouldn’t want our lives any other way, except maybe with more babysitting and housecleaning help.

But there is a sorrow that comes with saying goodbye to something.  For me, it was the freedom to just do whatever I wanted, on my terms, on my schedule.  I never realized how much I loved and took pride in my independence and self-sufficiency.  I never realized how much I simply lived for myself, no matter how generously I thought I gave of my time and energy to others.

I mourn a teeny bit still.  But with time, I’ve become comfortable with this stage of life.  It once felt like a new skin, foreign and constricting.  Now it fits like a glove.  I’ve realized that I haven’t actually changed much — I still have the same dreams and hopes,  I still love working as a pediatrician, I still love ice cream, and pajamas are still my favorite outfit.  But my priorities have dramatically changed, and that makes our life change.

This stage of parenthood is our reality.  But it doesn’t mean we stop dreaming and hoping.  I just do it a little differently now.  The kids are part of our lives, and I want them to be part of our dreams and hopes too.  I want them to shape us just as much as we shape them.  Because this is family — we’re in it together.

So I’m starting a Family Bucket List For now, Smartypants and I can add to it.  As the kids grow older, they can add their ideas.  I hope we learn to share our dreams and hopes in the process.

The only criteria to the Family Bucket List is that we do it together.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip that creates more headaches than actual memories.  It doesn’t have to be glamorous or hip.  I doubt our family could be glamorous or hip even if we paid someone to make us over.  The key to making a Family Bucket List is keeping things real.  Whether it’s as ambitious as volunteering together in a foreign country or as simple as a water balloon fight, it has to be all about who you really are as a family.

Sometimes a Family Bucket List is just a reminder to have fun together.  To make the time and the plans to do something special together, off the beaten path of our schedules.  To be intentional.  One day, we won’t be together like this anymore.  This stage will pass and far too fast.

One day I might return to making a personal bucket list of my own and pursue all sorts of adventures.  I might just become independent and spontaneous again.  Yet, here’s the beautiful irony…  I can’t think of anything on that personal bucket list of mine that could possibly come close to the joy of having loved my children. 


What would you put on your Family Bucket List?

Join me in making a Family Bucket List!  I would love to hear your ideas.  I’ve started mine on Pinterest: Family Bucket List


8 thoughts on “Making a Family Bucket List

    • Hi Nicolette! I just recently started pinning and it’s hard to stop! Pinterest reflects exactly how my brain tends to sort through ideas, except it actually keeps track of it. 🙂 Thanks for following! It’ll be fun to share ideas via Pinterest.

  1. GREAT idea. I have a board for bucket list type things on my Pinterest, but I realized when I started pinning there, it was mostly stuff I want to do with family. I should make a separate one for family. While in Asia, I definitely want to visit the Great Wall with the family. Also hope to travel Europe as a family, too…to be able to sing “Do, a deer, a female deer” with my girls on the hills of Austria…;) Most of my bucket list entries seem to revolve around travel…but will be thinking of more to come up with now that I’ll make a “board” for it. kkk…^^

    • I love your idea of living out Sound of Music!! You’ve inspired me… I would like us all to stand on a big staircase with Momo singing “So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, adieu. Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu.” Tigerlily can stick her head out behind us singing “coo coooo, coo cooo…”
      I think my family would never forgive me and that would be the official end of our family bucket list.
      Travel is definitely my love. But I’m trying to think outside of that… because let’s face it, travel takes money. A whole lot of money once the kids are older and count as actual paying individuals. Must add more freebies and cheapies to the family bucket list to make it more easily accomplished. 😉

  2. We have small short term bucketlist goals, that we hope to expand with more cash flow some day. For this summer, I want to take the family on a ferry boat, explore a cave, hike to a picnic, ride a canoe downriver. My youngest is 3, and we feel we can finally do these things without carrying him, at least not the entire time. I totally understand your post. I’ve been in survival mode for years, and I’m just starting to see a world without diapers and tantrums and lots of amazing possibilities!

  3. Those are such wonderful ideas, Amanda! I’ve been meaning for us to have picnics more often. I see large families setting up picnics at the local park and just spending good family time together. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often, rather than rushing home and eating indoors. Nature offers so much to see and do. I too am so excited to get to a point where the kids can really come along and explore with me.

  4. I love the idea of the bucket list on Pinterest and just created my own board (and started following yours). My kids are 2 1/2 and 4 and I am so looking forward to doing more outdoor stuff with them this spring/summer- on my bucket list are things like first camping trip, hikes, bike rides, climb the dunes (Jockey’s Ridge) at the Outer Banks- we are going there twice this summer!, and some train related trips to places in PA like Strasburg. Eventually things like Disney, visiting cousins in beautiful, rural Alberta, Canada, seeing the Grand Canyon, and visiting Zambia where I served as a missionary nurse.
    Thanks for the inspiration to think about this and pin it!

    • I’ve heard so many good things about the Outer Banks. I need to remember to look up jockey ridge and add it to my board. I love the diversity of the outdoors! You’ve got an inspirational list going already. Looking forward to seeing what else you pin on your family bucket list. (oh pinterest, I heart thee.)

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