Talk About It: Post-Adventure Family Conversations

What kind of conversations do you have with your kids after you’ve reached a bucket list goal? What does your “debriefing” look like?
Chez Kent 411bOver Spring Break our family took a few bucket list adventures. Our eldest daughter spent three weeks on a school-sponsored exchange trip to Spain. The rest of us visited the LEGO Discovery Center for the first time. And I worked on a big project preparing for my next bucket list goal.

As much we enjoyed those adventures, we found the conversations we shared afterwards equally important. We heard stories about the differences between Chicago and the Spanish city of Santiago de Compastela. We talked about why we all agreed that it the LEGO trip would have been better for younger kids. And my family gave me feedback on my progress with my project.  We had these conversations not just for the fun of swapping stories (which is a huge part of it), but also because we’ve learned that processing our experiences helps us to appreciate, and deepen, the value of them.

When it comes to bucket list goals in your family, I hope you take the time to talk about them when you have accomplished them. Here are some ways to make the most of your family’s post-adventure chats:

  • Celebrate. Talk about how fortunate you were to be able to accomplish this particular goal. Ask your kids what made it the most memorable for them.
  • Reflect. Encourage your family to think about their individual roles in the experience. What did they do that worked well? What would they have done differently? What would they suggest to someone else approaching the same experience for the first time?
  • Applaud. Have family members exchange words of appreciation and affirmation. If it was a shared experience, ask each one to observe something positive they witnessed about another family member. As parents, share your positive observations.
  • Extract. Point your children toward the growth aspects of the experience. Where did they exhibit new skills or build on character traits? Ask everyone to talk about what they felt they gained from the adventure.
  • Commemorate. Discussing the adventure offers the perfect opportunity to seek your family’s input on how they want to mark the experience. Will you be putting together a photo collage? Or do you plan to display a souvenir? How might your family help you with these projects? Do they have ideas on how to observe or remember reaching that goal?

You may be surprised about what you learn from your kids during these conversations. Their perspective can be refreshing, and allowing them to process for themselves will internalize those experiences in significant ways.

Remember, it’s never too late to chat about the adventures you’ve taken. Make it the topic of your next family dinner and see where it leads!

Photo credit: Chez Kent 411b by Nathan LeClair on Flickr via CC License.

Free Three-Month Subscription to Bucket List Living Magazine

If you’ve never checked out the new monthly digital publication, Bucket List Living Magazine, you should. The layouts are sharp and the articles make the most of the digital platform, such as including imbedded videos and links to recommended products. And the articles are both practical and inspiring. As the name suggests, this magazine is all about living out your bucket list.

February 2014 Bucket List Living MagazineI’m pleased to be part of Bucket List Living Magazine‘s February issue, with my article “3 Strategies For Planning Family Adventures.” As a contributor, they have generously given me a special code to share with you for three months of their digital magazine FREE (and you don’t need to worry about having to cancel an automatic renewal  – it’s 100% free. But you’ll likely want to jump on a paid subscription after that). The discount code is “3free” and expires on February 28th. Here’s all you need to do to get your copy:

  1.  Go to “App Store Downloads on iTunes”.  Search for Bucket List Living Magazine.
  2. Download the free app by tapping the FREE button.
  3. Tap the INSTALL APP button.  You will then enter your Apple ID Password and click OK.
  4. When the magazine app is finished installing tap the OPEN button.
  5. Permission to send new issues and push notifications from Bucket List Living Magazine is requested.  Choose OK.
  6. Tap the SUBSCRIBE button and then the CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS button.
  7. Enter the coupon code “3free” into the account number box and tap the CONTINUE button.  After you enter the code you will receive a notification that you have subscribed successfully.  Tap CLOSE. (The current issue should begin downloading in the background.)
  8. A VIEW button will appear below the current issue, tap it to begin enjoying the magazine.
  9. You will have access to any issue published during the trial subscription period.  At the end of the trial period you will retain access to any issue downloaded during the trial period but will be required to pay for any subsequent issues.


Seasonal Bucket List… Or Activity List?

Are you working your way through a “Winter Bucket List” right now? Have you been putting ideas down for a “Spring Bucket List”?

Bridging the Seasons by scottlynchphotoIt’s time we set the record straight on seasonal lists and what we call them. Because the name really does make a difference – in what goes on the list and in how our pursuit of them plays out.

Let me explain. We all know that a bucket list traditionally speaking contains what we hope to do in our lifetime. As in those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, along with new ventures we want to sample. They’re goals, aspirations, and sometimes outright fantasies.

Our bucket lists can be both serious and whimsical at the same time. I’d like to someday take a photography class. But I’m also itching to have someone smash a cream pie in my face.

And they can comprise our intentions for a shorter period of time in our lives (a “season,” if you will), as family bucket lists do.

But there is a big difference between a bucket list and fun pursuits we hope to do (again). Or between a bucket list and new things we want to sample that aren’t particularly meaningful to us,  just amusing. Because there isn’t the same passion behind those. There isn’t the life-changing, memory-making power to a list of fun activities that a bucket list has.

And here’s the problem: when we call a list of seasonal activities a “bucket list” we short-change ourselves opportunities to go after our real bucket list.

The biggest frustration I hear moms voice is not having enough time. Being perennially busy. And I believe that’s universal to moms everywhere in our culture. So before you sit down to write that list I want you to ask yourself: “what have I always wanted to do that would fit this season?”

In other words, populate your calendar with the most important, most meaningful goals. Give yourself no more than three must-dos per season (or give yourself more than a season to finish them). Hopefully you have an ongoing honest-to-goodness bucket list that you can draw those from. And if this is time you want to spend as a family or with your kids, then the list you draw from should also be your family bucket list.

Then, if you feel like you’ll have more resources (money, time, energy, patience) to go after other ideas, create a separate list. Call it your “Winter Fun List” or “Spring Outings To Take” or some other name. And decide up front that anything accomplished off of that list will be a bonus.

Otherwise, you will find yourself driven to cross off items on the wrong list. You’ll consume your free time with busyness instead of being engaged and fulfilled. You’ll have the deadline of the season’s end serving as an additional stressor in your life. And you’ll likely come to the end with regret, rather than satisfaction.

Trust me, I know. I tried following a “Summer Bucket List” last year. It was mostly a flop. Our summer went better when I stopped referring to the list, because so much of our list turned out to be out of my control.

Mary Carver also knows the pitfalls of trying to keep up with a seasonal/holiday list. She expresses well the dangers in her post Giving Up on Christmas Bucket Lists.

Don’t make the same mistake. Create a life list, as well as a family bucket list for the years your share with growing children. Regularly search for opportunities to reach some of those goals. And don’t sacrifice those to the god of a seasonal activity list.

So tell me, is there something on your bucket list that can only be done during a specific season of year? Does it make sense to go after it this year? How would keeping a seasonal activity list separate from your bucket lists make a difference in your family life?

Bridging the Seasons Photo by ScottLynchPhoto, courtesy of Creative Commons on Flickr

It’s Time

One question for you as we approach the new year: what is it time for?

countdownInstead of setting yourself a list of self-improvement goals that are bound to produce more guilt than change (if the statistics are right), take an optimistic approach. Think about the different goals or outings or classes you’ve had in mind for “someday.” Which ones are ready to have their day in 2014? Write them down.

As a parent, I suggest you also take the opportunity to evaluate how your children are growing and maturing and consider what new things they may be ready to tackle. Is it time to get your youngest out on skis for the first time? Is your eldest ready for that father-daughter camping trip? Will someone in your family cross an age limit or size barrier that allows them to venture into new territory? Write down those options whose time will arrive in 2014.

And as you ponder a list for what you hope to experience this year, I’d like to challenge you to include a reach goal – something you’ve been putting off and putting off. Maybe it’s time to start that business you’ve been wanting to own. Or train for a marathon. Give yourself a chance to try something difficult. Because the only thing worse than failing, is failing to try.

As for me, among other pursuits, it’s time to research Italy and all it has to offer. I may not be traveling there in 2014, but if I’m ever to make that far out dream come true, it’s going to take some down-to-earth knowledge and specific thoughts on what that “someday” trip will look like. I’ve been talking about it for too long. This year I’m going to dig in deep and put flesh on the bones on my hopes to visit there. It’s time to get more serious about that dream so that one year its time will truly come.

[Update: I’ve shared more about my resolutions for 2014 over at Christina Katz’s blog, along with some other terrific mom writers. Stop by and hear what these women hope to do in 2014. Then share your own career-related resolution for a chance to win 15 e-books!]

Turn Back-to-School Blues into a Promise For the Future

It’s school time again. I find that among the moms I talk to there are two sharply contrasting reactions to the start of the school year: glee and sadness. And frankly I think many moms, whether they’re anticipating sending the kids off to school or dreading it, feel a mixture of both.
School Buses by Alex StarrIf you’re sad to see summer come to an end because you were enjoying the downtime and had so many things left that you wanted to do, I have a tip for you: you can turn that disappointment into excitement by capturing what you’re feeling and why right now.

Here’s how it works: as moms we know from experience that summer presents a unique opportunity to get out and show our kids the world and enjoy special times together. Often our school years can be filled to overflowing with activities, which makes the down time of summer so precious. And we’ve also seen how opportunities missed in summer seem to disappear completely. But I’ll tell you a secret: they’re not really gone. They’re just forgotten. And each one remembered becomes a promise for the future. Because there will be more summers. And before then there will be bits of downtime and quiet evenings and weekends, even if they are few and far between.

So here’s what I want you to do: I want you to create for yourself a reminder of why you were sad to see summer end this year. What had you hoped to do but didn’t? What did you most enjoy that you wanted to keep going?

Write it down. Grab a journal and pour out your emotions about this particular summer coming to an end (or if you’re visual, go through your summer photos and make a collage). Those memories will be precious for you and your kids. Then once you’ve written the long version of it, I want you to go back and distill each reason for your disappointment into one sentence.

Like this: I’m sad that my kids never got to have a picnic lunch out on Grandma & Grandpa’s boat. Or even shorter (without the emotion): Have a picnic lunch on Grandma & Grandpa’s boat.

Guess what that is? It’s an entry for my Family Bucket List (and also an uncompleted item from our Summer Bucket List.) If you also created a Summer Family Bucket List – good for you. Now it’s time to move some of those uncompleted items over to your long-term plan that spans the duration of your kids’ childhoods (and beyond).

Turn your back-to-school blues into promises for the future by adding them to your Family Bucket List.

Don’t have a Family Bucket List yet? You need to check out my new e-book Family Bucket Lists: Bring More Fun, Adventure, & Camaraderie Into Every Day which provides unique prompts for creating your individual and shared lists, along with tips for troubleshooting and documenting your adventures. Click to learn more.

Now leave a comment and tell us: what will you miss from this summer? What unfinished summer dreams will you put on your long-term list of family plans?


  • Try this back-to-school exercise to defeat your end-of-summer blues. – Click to Tweet
  • It’s time to move uncompleted summer bucket list items to your long-term plan.   – Click to Tweet
  • Turn your back-to-school blues into promises for the future by adding them to your Family Bucket List. – Click to Tweet

Photo credit: School Buses by “Twix”/Alex Starr on Flickr via CC License