Just like that, school’s out for the summer.

At the end of a school year that’s been anything but ordinary, it may feel almost surprising to witness the planetary routine of seasonal change play out as always, even as the transition heralds a summer that promises to be stranger than any in recent memory.

This summer may be different for your family, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be awesome.

If you’re looking for a way to get excited for the season to come, consider creating a summer bucket list. This is a great activity for families to work through the Innovator’s Process together, moving from identifying goals to generating ideas and all the way to sharing.

Grab some paper, something to write with, and the art supplies of your choice, and get ready to work together to plan a summer for the books.

Ideate Together

Ask your family what’s important in a summer bucket list. Perhaps it’s important that all of the ideas are inclusive, meaning that your crew chooses things that are possible for everyone to participate in and that everyone will enjoy. Maybe you want to practice an aspect of the Innovator’s Mindset in this conversation, like being collaborative or reflective. Naming these priorities at the top can help focus the conversation and spark ideas.

Try thinking big. Ideas like “get a pet unicorn” can go on the list! Maybe that inspires a homemade game of pin the tail on the unicorn or afternoons spent running through a unicorn sprinkler.

Try thinking little. Nothing your family loves is too small for the list. Eating burritos, having a family dance party, laughing together, making smoothies, and other everyday delights are all excellent bucket list items.

Encourage growth. Family projects like building a treehouse or volunteering time or skill aren’t just super fun—they’re also opportunities for summer learning.

And finally, in the spirit of generating ideas, agree that there are no bad ideas. Encourage each person to practice saying yes or ask themselves, “why not?”

If you’re looking for some inspiration to kick off the convo, try asking some of these questions:

  • What will we make? (Ex: a treehouse, a hand-sewn dress, a blanket fort, confetti poppers)
  • What will we eat? (Ex: a favorite meal, a brand-new recipe we’ve been longing to try, a family cooking challenge)
  • Where will we go? (Ex: camping in the backyard, on a drive to see a place we haven’t been, to the beach with masks on)
  • What will we experience? (Ex: DIY haircuts, staying up late, movies in the yard)
  • What will we learn? (Ex: the names of the plants in our neighborhood, how to make a rubber band cannon)
  • Who will we see, and how will we see them? (Ex: set goals for socially distanced hangouts with loved ones, keeping them noncommittal since many guidelines are in flux)

Do What Makes Sense

A family bucket list should set you up for joy and connection. As with any family project, you can choose how to make it work for you. Decide together whether your goal is to do everything or only some of the things.

Maybe your family thrives on a to-do list. Maybe your crew decides to write down just a handful of bullet points about which you feel strongly. In short, perhaps you’re a bucket list completionist. That’s awesome!

Perhaps you know that approaching your summer bucket list as an all-or-nothing deal will lead to a sense of pressure to check off everything by the end of August. Maybe your family has more amazing ideas than can possibly fit inside a single summer. That’s awesome too! Instead of a to-do list, consider your bucket list as an inspiration source and a launching-off point for answering the question, “What should we do this week?”

Use it Often

Who among us hasn’t embraced an organizational north star—a planner or a New Years’ resolution, perhaps—only to see the new system fall by the wayside?

It’s so much easier to stick to something when it’s exciting, and it’s so much easier to stay excited about a thing when we see and interact with it regularly.

After you’ve created your bucket list, post it somewhere where everyone in the family can see it. If your family had a posted schedule for school days at home, consider tacking up your summer list in its place.

Make it a family habit to check the list for ideas. Whenever you hear phrases like “I’m bored,” or “There’s nothing to do,” hightail it to the bucket list for an instant infusion of inspiration. Consider holding a regular time as a family, like after dinner on Friday night, to choose the things you’ll do this week or month.

Check things off as you go. There are few things more satisfying than shrinking a to-do list, especially when that list is full of things your family loves to do. Celebrate the adventures you’ve taken with a great big ✔️.

This blog post is adapted from a Q&A session with Sarah McDonald, Galileo’s VP of Southern California Operations, on making the transition from school year to summertime. Watch the full video to hear more about creating celebration, ceremony, and balance as a family.