Recently, my friend Karen posted photos of an icy New Year's Day plunge she took with her friend Christina and the L Street Brownies. I was impressed. And curious.
I asked Karen why she did such a crazy, courageous and COLD thing. She told me she has a list of things she wants to do before turning 40, and doing a polar plunge was on it. She mentioned that lots of people have “bucket lists,” and her list was made in the spirit of bucket lists everywhere.
I was inspired.
"The term 'kick the bucket' refers to when a person passes away. This is where the phrase "Bucket List" came from. It is a list of things that you want to do before you 'kick the bucket.' The items on this list can be as simple as "fly a kite" or "cook a meal." They can also be more meaningful to the person writing the list such as, "make a difference in somebody's life," or "finally write to the friend you haven't seen in years." They can even be in between the two such as, "swim in the world's largest swimming pool" or "pet a baby polar bear." The list is all up to the wishes and dreams of the person writing it."
I decided to create my own bucket list of sorts: a parenting bucket list. A list of things I would like to do with my kids before they get too old to enjoy them, before they don’t want to do things with their [stupid] parents anymore, before they leave for college.
This is a fun list to create because I get to dream. Anything can go on it, even crazy, outrageous, silly things.
I think, though, that bucket lists are also supposed to be real — things you plan to actually do, so I decided to be careful and keep it realistic, keeping our interests and budget in mind.
So what's on my list?
- Make it to Orlando. My kids have been begging for years now to visit Disney or Universal Studios. Lego Land was recently added to the list (it opened in October 2011). We have not been able to make it happen. Part of the problem is the only time we can go is during school vacations, the most expensive and busiest time to travel. And Orlando in the summer has little appeal, due to the extreme heat and humidity. So there we are. We either have to save a bundle (hard to do) or strike it rich to make this a reality anytime soon. That said, we started a very modest vacation fund a few years ago in hopes to make it to Disney some day. The account is s-l-o-w-l-y growing (we make modest deposits every once in a while), but it will likely be years before we will be able to fund our trip. I am a little worried the kids may outgrow their interest before we can make this happen. For this reason, it is first on my list.
- Repeat the two-week summer road trip we took in 2011 — using a new route. Last summer we took off for two amazing weeks. We visited the New Jersey shore (as we do every summer) to see my husband's family, and then road-tripped to Baltimore, Md.; southern Virginia; Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis, Mo.; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; and finally Niagara Falls and Seneca Falls, New York. It was an amazing time of exploring new places, feasting on regional foods, enjoying live music venues and bonding as a family. The driving got tedious at times, but we'd all do it again in a heartbeat. Perhaps our next family road trip will take us north into Vermont and Maine and then into Canada to see Montréal and Quebec. Better get passports for the kids!
- Do another culinary expedition with my daughter. As you may have read in my column, we went to a cake decorating class in N.J. last year and got to meet some of the cast of the TLC show, "Cake Boss." Not sure I'll ever be able to top this, but I would love to take my daughter on another culinary outing. I'll keep my eyes open and see what presents itself.
- Likewise, I'd love for my son to meet some of his illustrator or author heroes. He is a big fan of graphic novels, comics and humor. I'm on the lookout for readings and events with his heroes. Comic Con is one option, and I'm following Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid series, to see if we can meet him at a local happening.
- Resume volunteering with the kids. For a while, we helped deliver meals to elderly people living in the Boston area. The elders enjoyed getting the meals but seemed even more appreciative of our company. Visits by young people seem helpful to the elderly, almost reinvigorating them. It would be great to return to this, for my kids and for the elders. We often volunteer at community events like , but we could do even more. I want to instill in the kids value of caring for people in our community and the importance of giving our time and ourselves to others.
- Teach my kids financial literacy. I hope to teach my children enough about money, credit cards and interest rates so they understand the basics of finances. Learning how to keep a checkbook seems rather antiquated since everything is done online these days, but I would like them to understand electronic banking, how to use credit cards without racking up huge debts, how to read and pay bills, what a mortgage is, why saving receipts (for big purchases, things you may return) is important, what refinancing is, etc. The kids see me clip coupons and study the sales fliers from the supermarket each week, but there is even more for them to know, like double coupons!
- Make sure they know it is always OK to ask for help. Lost in Prague when you are 20? Ask for help. Not sure what to do about the warning light flashing on your dashboard? Ask for help. Worried about a friend who may be in an abusive relationship? Ask for help. The range of situations they may find themselves in is endless. What I want them to know is that there are good people out there, and my kids are smart enough to find them if they are ever in need. Uniforms (police, fire, nurses, doctors, etc.) are usually good places to start. And their dad and I are always available, too. Always. (Although we might not be able to help much if they are lost in Prague!)
- Be healthy. I'd like to impart on my kids my hopes they will lead healthy lives. I hope they'll never smoke or become addicted to drugs or alcohol. I also hope they will remember to eat their colors everyday (fruit and veggies) and exercise regularly. My husband and I try to be good role models for them. We hope they take notice.
- Know they can do anything — with focus and hard work. I believe in my children and feel confident they can make their own dreams come true. I hope they live by this and feel like they can be who they want to be.
Interested in creating your own bucket list? I found this advice at ehow. Check it out.