It’s summer bucket list time – can you believe it?!

Last week was Jackson’s last week of school, so it’s officially summer around here. We kicked off our summer with a quick overnight trip to a local kid-focused hotel (Kalahari, for you locals) and this is our first full week of summer break.

I always like to take it relatively easy this time of year, but if you’ve been around for any length of time you’ll know I’m a big advocate for structure during the summer, because it keeps us all sane and happy. I’ve still got to work throughout the summer months, but I also want to be sure to set aside some time for the kids.

We’ve found the best way to ensure we really focus on having some good family time during the summer is to create a little bucket list of all the things we want to do together. Jackson loves our seasonal bucket lists and looks forward to them with great enthusiasm, so I try to make one for every season.

Today I’m sharing our 2021 summer bucket list, along with a few other ideas and tips I have for keeping the kids busy and happy all summer long (while still managing to accomplish a few things yourself). Let’s dive right in, shall we?

2021 Summer Bucket LIst

summer bucket list with ideas of things to do with kids

You can CLICK HERE to download our summer bucket list – the download also comes with a second, blank bucket list for you to add your own activities to if you prefer!

Our Summer Screen Time Rules

One thing that I think can be a hot button topic this time of year is how in the world do you manage screen time when the kids are home all day? It can be hard to know where the limits are and how to enforce them when all you want is a moment of peace!

Over the last couple of years during any extended school break, I’ve started using a screen time checklist. It’s a list of things the kids have to do (usually with a specified duration attached) before they’re allowed any screen time. Working through the list gets them two hours of screen time (and, if I’m feeling generous, an additional hour of educational screen time – like doing “how to draw” videos, playing math apps, or watching something educational). Obviously this route may not work for everyone – we’re allow more screen time than a lot of families, and less than other families. You know your kids and your family best, and you should plan according to what works best for them.

Our summer screen time checklist

Before you have any screen time, you need to….

  • Make your bed.
  • Play outside for 1 hour.
  • Do 30 minutes of creative activities.
  • Move your body for 30 minutes (riding bikes, going for a walk, etc.)
  • Independent play (or play with brother) for 1 hour.
  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Do daily chores (varies depending on the day).

All said and done, these activities should take about 4 hours, which means most of our morning is spent busy, playing, and being creative. We do spend most summer mornings at our neighborhood pool, so I generally let that count for outside time and moving your body. But, the rest still have to be done when we get back before any screen time!

With this checklist, it’s usually mid-afternoon by the time the checklist is complete and the screen time is over, so I try to plan to get as much work done by then as possible so we can spend the rest of the afternoon doing some family activities (like the stuff on our bucket list!).

Of course, it’s important to note that things don’t always go according to plan, and there are definitely days where the whole list gets thrown out the window and we just survive. But, generally speaking, it’s a really helpful tool that makes our summer feel much more structured!

Summer activities for kids

Two small boys sitting next to a lake

Finally, I like to always put together a little list of boredom busters, craft ideas, and other things I can pull out at the last minute if we’re just having one of those days and need some help making it through.

At the beginning of the summer I like to stock up on a few essential supplies. Here’s what’s usually in my summer survival kit:

Basically, my goal is always to make sure our art supplies are freshly stocked and ready to be used, and Jackson loves to have a Brain Quest book on hand to work on throughout the summer!

I also love to have a Pinterest list ready to go with lots of activities, free printables, and cute crafts that I can pull out at a moment’s notice. Here’s the Pinterest board I put together for this year!

And that, my friends, is how we plan on staying busy this summer!

What are your favorite summer activities for the kids?

Looking for more bucket lists?

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