summer bucket list giveaway momiverse

This week’s giveaway for a $25 gift card to Darden restaurants is sponsored by The Momiverse! The Momiverse is an online lifestyle magazine to help busy Moms take time — and make time — for themselves, while navigating the crazy, hectic and harried world of Mom. Our mission is to help you create a lifestyle that enables you more balance, freedom and flexibility to truly enjoy your family and your life.

Our Weekly Portrait Project. Something I started over two years ago and have decided to continue on until the kids graduate high school…

This is the last week of our California portraits. I love the shot of Max on the beach at Huntington. It was a rough night, crowded beaches, and in the end, we made it through and got the last possible firepit in Huntington with friends for some s’more action. Ava’s portrait was taken the same night down by the water. It was chilly, so she didn’t get in all the way, only her feet, but she splashed and laughed and danced and was in her own little world down there. The little braid just kills me. Lia’s portrait was from the next day when we went snorkeling with leopard sharks in La Jolla, California. She never actually made it fully in the water, but she looked cute dressed up and ready…

Portrait of a boy on Huntington Beach, California.Portrait of a girl on Huntington Beach, California.Girl ready to go snorkeling in La Jolla, California.

Summer’s a blast.

It’s what a lot of us wait for all year long.

As soon as the sun starts shining, we’ve got our bucket lists and we are ready to rock!!

And that’s half awesome and half terrifying, right?

As a veteran mom of 22 years I know you’re excited for school to be out now so that you’re not all stuck in the early morning routine and everyone can just relax and chill. No homework. No dragging the baby around in the car during naptime. No early morning (or late night) lunch making. No morning grumpiness. It’s time to just BREATHE and let the sunshine in! It’s time to party!

But that glee lasts for about 2.5 days before someone is bored. RIGHT? And then you’re looking at a whole summer of trying to figure out what to do for everyone to keep them occupied, and still in learning mode (but in a fun, creative way) and entertained with things other than TV or Playstation or whatever digital screens they’re plugged into. You want them to play outside, to just be kids, right? And that bickering…ugh!!

Maybe…just maybe…you considered pulling your hair out just this morning, grumbling something under your breath about you wishing you had signed them up for the eternal summer camp or shipped them off to Auntie’s house … sound familiar?

Here’s one thing I know about you. And I know this is true, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. You love your family. A lot. In fact, you pour your life into being an awesome family. And even if you’re not able to pull it off every single day, you’re always thinking about it. And looking for ways to improve, streamline, stay inspired making sure your family gets what they need with good food, sleep, exercise, activities, adventure, happiness, etc.

But here’s the next thing I know about you. Because it’s me too.
When you give yourself so completely to being this type of parent and family (and you wouldn’t have it any other way) it takes A LOT of energy. And we feel pressured and tired, trying to make everyone happy. Tired of having to do it all, be everything and do it all well. There is this growing pressure in parenting that says it’s all gotta be Pinterest Perfect (PP). I mean, I know we love what we do – we’ve chosen this life willingly, but a girl (or boy!) needs some relief once in a while.

And that’s okay.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking summer plans have to be perfect and expertly executed. I hope you’ll be kind to yourself and know that not everything has to be PP. I hope you’ll take yourself off the hook of needing to make it all pristine and flawless. You know, just like I do, that raising a family is anything but faultless. The truth is that the kids aren’t going to remember every single little detail of magazine ready experiences. But what they ARE going to remember is how you feel about them and how much time you spend with them.

So, here’s my encouragement to you to keep you cool as a cucumber when the heat is on to make summer uh-MA-zing and you start feeling like you want to run screaming in the other direction.

Being bored never killed anyone.
In fact, boredom can be a great catalyst for the beginning of really creative solutions and imagination. So, don’t give in to the thinking that every single moment of the summer has to be planned and scripted. Our little darlings will be JUST FINE without you having to provide ideas/suggestions every single day. Some of our favorite memories were born out of ingenuity when the kids were bored. They’d eventually end up making something cool I never would have imagined and it usually led to a lot of laughter and a fostering of relationships.

No matter what you choose to do with your time this summer, focus on DELIGHT. Focus on what your family is doing right, instead of wrong.
Having this kind of mentality puts you into an emotional state of really being able to appreciate one another. The other viewpoint just creates chaos and ungratefulness, which leads to grumbling and resentment. And who wants that all summer? When we focus on what’s right, our whole thinking stays in a positive momentum. The next time you find yourself feeling irritated, ask yourself what you can refocus on that is RIGHT.

Lazy summer days don’t last forever – so slow down and soak in the moments.
Unplug and just BE with your kids. Whatever they’re doing, do it with them. I remember when they were small; I just wanted to sleep all the time. But I don’t regret any of that time of being with them (really being with them). It was worth the effort.

My kids are 21, 19 & 15. I miss the days of everyone being home, making popsicles, running through sprinklers and heading off to our annual family trips to the cabin in Tahoe without having to pray for a miracle that everyone’s vacation and work and school schedules will line up and hope we can all be there on a few of the same days.

Relish the moments that are ordinary.
The sleepy bed heads. The dirty hands. The clothes that don’t match. The times they need to be held. The bored moments. The games. The hide and seek. The way they look at you and you can tell what they’re thinking. The times when they don’t want the hammock snuggles to end. The stargazing. The chores. The silly things they say and do. All of it…DELIGHT in your life together as a family. It’s the most precious gift you’ll ever have.

Because at the end of the day, when business stops and stuff breaks and agendas fade away, what matters most are these precious people we have in our lives to care for and love. That’s it.

So, breathe them in.
Rub their backs. Say, “I love you.” Take their pictures; document your affection. Unplug long enough to fill them up. And then go fill yourself again. And then pour into them some more. Then stand back and DELIGHT in who your people are. The good…the bored…the bad…the victories and even the things that didn’t quite turn out the way you thought they would. All of those things make us who we are.

And lastly, (maybe this should have been first) take good care of you.
Make sure you get some good quality personal time in so that you stay fresh for everyone else. I used to struggle with feeling guilty for doing things for myself, but taking time away from your family in order to refuel is not only a good idea, it’s necessary. Take that early morning iced coffee break outside for 15 minutes. Go on that walk alone. Grab the babysitter and have date night. I remember there was even times we’d just drop the kids off at Nana’s and head back home just to watch a movie uninterrupted. I think it’s good to get some time in when you aren’t interrupted…finishing a thought is good, right?! (I see you nodding your head!)

Your regular, real life is beautiful. Wring this summer dry of every possible moment to be fascinated with the essence of who your family is deep inside. Allow room for inspiration without anything planned, delight in what’s going right, slow down and unplug, appreciate the ordinary days, take good care of yourself, and BREATHE. Breathing is good! ;o)

Throw off all the expectations and travel light this summer, my friend!

Refocus your perspective at http://the-lightroom.com or http://instagram.com/treacymize.

Last summer I came across Jenny and Josh Solar and their Happy Family Summer Bucket List Challenge via Facebook. I remember thinking, “What A Fantastic Idea!” We ended up completing our very first summer bucket list last year and are excited about what this summer will bring!

Although my boys have another week of school left, we started our summer bucket list activities in mid May. We have a lot of exciting things planned this summer and cannot wait to start checking them off the list.

We kicked off this summerʼs activities with a treasure hunt! My youngest and I sat at the table and wrote a list of things that would be interesting to drive around and try to find. Five hours and two counties later we found ALMOST everything we set out to find.

Iʼm a road tripper! I love to hit the road with no agenda and just see where the road takes me. I do a lot of this with my kids. Weʼve ended up in many neat little towns this way.

Vacations are nice, but not always affordable. Sometimes you have to get creative with your kids, get outdoors, find things to do locally that wonʼt cost lots of money. The ideas are endless, you just have to get creative. Check out your local happenings in the paper or online. There are always kid friendly events going on.

Cheers to a great summer!

summer bucket list scavenger hunt

summer kickoff treasure hunt

You can find Monica online at www.monicamariephotos.com and www.childhoodunplugged.com.