The hot day stretched out before me. I had absolutely nothing on the agenda. The calendar box was blank as all of them were. I sat on my daybed writing poetry, aspiring to be a writer someday. When I ran out of words, I began to draw. Horses, unicorns and rainbows filled the sheets. I've never had much artistic talent, but I wasn't aiming for an award. I was filling my days with the things I enjoyed.

Outside, the sun had been beating down. My bike seat was hot, but it didn't deter me. I rode back and forth, basket bouncing and fringes flying from the handlebars. The '80s summers were unhindered by the constant rings and dings of today's always-online world. It felt slower. Longer. More intentional.


I recently wrote a post detailing how I felt about the nine summers I have left before my children are both adults. I am not claiming to be giving my children an '80s summer. In fact, as I write this, one of my children is playing XBox. The other has been on the iPad watching YouTube earlier today.

It seems there is no escaping the draw of the screens entirely, but in our dining room is a poster board bucket list filled with experiences that we intend to make into summer memories. In the spirit of the bucket list, here are 50 slow, intentional experiences you can choose from to add to your summer days and nights.

50 summer bucket list ideas for kids

1. Make a bonfire and tell stories.

2. Watch a meteor shower.

3. Go to a drive-in movie theater.

4. Blow bubbles and chase them.

5. Pick dandelions and make lots of wishes.

6. Play with water balloons.

7. Run through a sprinkler.

8. Have a family dance party.

9. Spend the day fishing or relaxing by a lake.

10. Savor a messy, juicy watermelon.

11. Stay up late watching a movie marathon.

12. Create art with sidewalk chalk.

13. Explore local hiking trails.

14. Visit the beach.

15. Watch a fireworks show!

16. Have a barbecue.

17. Hula hoop!

18. Listen to an audio book together.

19. Paint a summer landscape together.

20. Make your own slip and slide.

21. Watch a sunset.

22. Wade in a creek.

23. Go berry picking.

24. Camp out in your backyard. Make s'mores.

25. Read under a tree.

26. Ride bikes together.

27. Make tie dye shirts.

28. Catch fireflies.

29. Play a game of chess.

30. Create a scavenger hunt.

31. Make homemade ice cream.

32. Fill out a journal together.

33. Stomp in puddles.

34. Dance in the rain.

35. Watch a sunrise.

36. Take a nature walk.

37. Start a rock collection.

38. Play outdoor water games.

39. Pick a wildflower bouquet.

40. Make ice cream sundaes or root beer floats.

41. Plant vegetables or flowers.

42. Hang a birdhouse.

43. Eat a snow cone.

44. Wash the family car.

45. Float down a lazy river.

46. Go swimming.

47. Write poetry.

48. Gaze at the clouds.

49. Create a summer scrapbook.

50. Build a fort.

Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength won't make your child immune to hardship—but it also won't cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges:

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