Tara Bone, contributing writer

It’s time to stash the backpacks and live in flip-flops. Summer 2018 has arrived. Like the beginning of every summer, well-meaning parents start June with visions of grandeur and long activity lists, but often the excitement wanes and reality sets in.

Parents are responsible to juggle the kids all day while keeping everyone safe, happy, and entertained (sometimes). We do that and make sure we’re raising hard-working, responsible citizens that will contribute to society . . . whoa, cue the deep yoga breathing and begin positive self-talk. We can do summer, and not just any summer — an amazing summer — because we’ve got the summer bucket list.

Six years ago, a friend gave our family a tin bucket and introduced us to the summer bucket. It changed how we do summer. Our little bucket provides a simple system that easily implements all the fun to-dos while getting all family members involved and ready to try new things.

This is how it works: gather family members and have each person announce and write down an activity they want to do on a strip of paper. Drop it in the bucket and every morning, or whatever time works best for your family, randomly choose an activity out of the bucket. Add as many activities as you would like and keep an open mind. It’s surprising the unique ideas that kids come up with. Some activities can be big adventures, while others can be as easy as eating ice cream. For a list of summer bucket ideas, visit cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com/education/schools/.

It’s a simple system, but delivers a lot of benefits. Somehow choosing the activity becomes an exciting event that works as a great motivator to finish chores. The kids feel ownership in the outcome of their summer. For our family, it helps us fit in summer fun when schedules get crazy. The system can be tweaked, too. Some families have more than one bucket; one for home activities and one for field trips.

Whatever your summer bucket list looks like, there is one huge benefit—it helps families begin summer with the end in mind. When the last day of summer creeps up on us, we won’t look back and wonder what happened. Family members can reminisce from the literal piles of adventures you’ve had together. You’ve got this. Create those summer memories!