Motherhood

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

kids disposable camera by nicki sebastian

What’s on your summer checklist? I work full time, but I love lazy summer weekends with nothing on the schedule except to eat strawberries straight from the colander. Here are 10 low-key things we’re hoping to do this summer (and I’d love to hear yours)…

Swim. Jump in the pool and don’t care about what you look like because no one else does. (As my mom says, “Everyone’s just worried about themselves.”) Here’s an amazing quote by Jamie Varon: “Go to the lake. Or the beach. Be the first to jump in the water. Tell everyone else, ‘Come in! It’s nice in here!’ Be the arbiter and instigator of joy. Make memories so precise and wonderful that, 20 years from now, you’ll say with longing and light in your eyes, ‘Remember that beautiful summer of 2019 when we said yes to life?’… Get sand in places that are inconvenient. Get your hair wet. Open your eyes under the water. Read a whole book in one day. Shield your eyes from the sunlight and think, “Oh my god, I am free.'”

Try a new-to-you ice cream flavor. Especially the yogurt flavor! It sounds like the worst but is actually the best!

Watch a movie from when you were little. My kids are really into modern-day movies — Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Spiderman, etc.— but now and again we try to wrestle them into watching something we loved as kids. The Sound of Music felt slow to them (heartbreak), but they loved the original Parent Trap and Back to the Future.

Give kids a disposable camera. My mom gave us all disposable cameras one summer growing up, and we still talk about what a genius idea that was. We went crazy for them and took such funny shots — my brother took photos over a wall he wasn’t tall enough to peek over, just so he could know what was on the other side! An easier alternative: just let kids take photos with your phone. Anton snapped this one of Alex and me a couple weeks ago, and I love it.

Play board games. We like Too Many Monkeys and Guess Who. Alex and I have even played them ourselves after the boys went to sleep, haha.

One night, throw bedtime to the wolves and let your kids stay up as late as they can. Once last summer, Alex was putting the boys to bed while I set out on a bike ride, and the weather was so glorious, breezy and clean, it felt like it was kissing your skin. So, I went back inside and said to the boys, “Put your clothes back on, we’re going out!” We ended up taking a bike ride, getting popsicles from the deli and coming home way after dark. It’s still one of my favorite memories from last summer.

Read a great book. Any beach read recs? I recently laughed my way through Calypso, and next I’m going old-school with Sense & Sensibility.

Leave your phone at home. Whenever I go for an evening walk with the boys, I try to leave my phone behind because I know myself and otherwise I’ll feel the weight of the phone in my pocket and check a quick email and feel like I have to reply and end up thinking about work the whole time. Instead, I leave my phone at home and if there’s downtime where the boys are happily playing on their own, I just LOOK AROUND. (Imagine that!) It feels so good to turn your brain off and simply notice things, like clouds that look like waves or chubby babies learning to walk or a mom with a cute skirt or roses at the park that you can stop to smell.

Make a crumble. What is it that’s so good about crumble? This recipe works for any fruit.

Stay inside and don’t feel bad about it. My friend Sharon uses the term “catch-up days,” where you need a break, so you stay inside and do nothing at all. Maybe watch a movie at 1 p.m.? Just make sure not to do anything productive because that’s against the rules.

swimming in the pool by latonya yvette

What’s on your list for summer? I’d love to hear. And here’s the best parenting advice I ever got.

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and surprising things about raising kids in Northern Ireland, France and Japan.

(Top photo by Nicki Sebastian. Bottom photo by LaTonya Yvette.)

  1. Jess says...

    My kids just created the best low key game and I remembered this post and felt compelled to share. All evening we have been playing “hotel” in our home. We have marveled at how this hotel is SO homey and has absolutely everything we want and need! Such a great way for me to step back and realize how perfect our life is. My daughters and I have everything we need in the best hotel I’ve ever visited. Ultimate staycation for the win!

  2. I couldn’t love this more – the point of summer, in my mind, is to lean into the laziness and follow the day. The pressure we put on ourselves to drive around, to scramble, to spend money to “experience” seasons seems so counterintuitive to me these days. Thanks for bringing it back to real.

  3. Christy says...

    My husband just had a birthday, and it was too hot to do any of the things I’d hoped we could do as a family outside (paddleboarding, kayaking, having lunch outdoors, etc.) so I decided to do something fun indoors, inspired by something I’d seen on Pinterest. I came up with 12 activities and printed them on tiny pieces of paper, shoved them in balloons, and blew them up with help from the kids. After we got back from brunch, we piled the balloons in a big basket and let him choose a balloon to pop. We had to do what was inside – play a round of Jenga, a game of Blokus, Pie Face, Tenzi, the Oreo game, open a gift from one of us, etc. We did one balloon every 30 minutes, and it added so much fun and anticipation and silliness to an otherwise ordinary day stuck indoors.

  4. After years of being a teacher with summers off, I took a position as an administrator and I work summer hours. It was a hard adjustment to lose all that down time and so I made down-time plans. To remind myself to take advantage of the easy weather and less-scheduled days of school without children, I treat myself to coffee and a book on the front porch every morning. I read for 30-60 minutes every morning and it is glorious.

  5. Isabelle says...

    This is such a good list. We refer to what you call catch-up days as “Should-less days” in our house, which is a term we heard Ellen Berstyn use in a podcast interview and loved. It can be really hard to have a true should-less day (or weekend) but so rewarding!

    • Jessica says...

      I had the same thought about ‘should-less’ days! Wonderful episode of Death, Sex, and Money.

  6. I just love the last one! All these days when I can just stay at home and do theoretically nothing are very precious. There are people who call you asking “What are you doing?” (my mom) and when you say “nothing”, they offer you a list of 54 items you could do WITH them or FOR them instead. The best approach is also not to pick up a phone – as this is against the rules!

  7. Tara Sharp says...

    I’m on sabbatical for 2 months of the summer, so we made a family summer bucket list. The girls are 7 and 9 years old — perfect summer ages! – and we all contributed to the list, which we wrote on a giant piece of paper and taped up on the kitchen wall. The kids love re-reading the list regularly (sometimes more than once per day!) and checking off things we’ve accomplished.
    -Kayaking on the bay
    -backyard campout
    -go see Lion King
    -watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    -Make Strawberry shortcake
    -visit grandma
    -make popsicles
    -visit ALL state parks in our area

  8. Ali says...

    In Australia, we’re halfway through winter and you’ve just reminded me of all the things I want to get done before Spring hits – make mulled wine and drink with friends around the fire pit, experiment with a new slow cooked lamb recipe, and hike in the hills in the winter sunshine. Sometimes we’re so looking ahead to the next season, we forget to enjoy the one we’re in. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Caroline says...

      Ali, so well put. I once read that half the pleasure you get from a vacation is planning it, and I think the same is true of enjoying the season. The only difference is we don’t eventually “go on season” like we “go on the vacation”, and so we have to remember to check that list! I’m cheering your mulled wine with a homemade piña colada from across the hemispheres.

  9. rachel says...

    besides the usual (pool, lake,splash pad etc) i am trying to be more intentional, cutting my daughters screen/tv time down majorly and connecting more to what matters, trying a new recipe a couple days a week, playing board games with her after dinner, taking more walks in the morning before it gets too hot… really soaking up her 3-ness (4 next month :'( … )

  10. Verona says...

    My checklist is short. Eating calamari while my kids play in the sea. Cooking plum dumplings using our own plums from our tiny garden. Googling “Mediterranean movies” and watching all of them. Drinking my coffee in the morning and whispering to myself: it’s summer, it’s summer, it’s summer. Even if I have to work, even if the kids quarrel, even if it’s too hot. It’s summer!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love this!!!

    • Ali says...

      googling Mediterranean movies – perfect!

  11. Lindsey says...

    I love every item on this list, but for me the best part of summer is not having lists :)

  12. Chantsy says...

    Adding one to the pile: visit your spouse at work during their lunch hour (*if* you’re home with your kids during the summer)! My kids get such a kick out of this and I distinctly remember loving it as a kid too. You won’t interrupt important work but allow for a little tour and a quick lunch together. The giant printer and dry erase board were a highlight for sure!!

  13. Justyna says...

    Love this! I will steal the disposable camera idea this summer, thanks. We let the kids stay up to watch lightening bugs a few weeks ago, and it was a life-highlight for them (they are 3 and 6)! They still talk about it. I also brought home little “treasure” boxes (mini cardboard boxes from Ikea) and they both spent the morning re-organizing their rooms to find treasures to put inside.

    We spend a chunk of summer in a cottage in Eastcoast Canada where there is no wi-fi. Other highlights with kids include: watching DVDs, listening to CDs, getting a new playdough box (hours of entertainment) and of course being outside. Happy Summertiming :)

  14. florence says...

    Love summer and can hardly believe it’s mid-July…

    For another old book, currently reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, a book my husband read in college that was lying around our home. But it’s so addicting and entertaining! Supposedly one of the first “mystery” novels to have come out back then.

    • Bonnie says...

      That was my favorite book in college as an English major! I should revisit it!

    • Erika says...

      Also try, The Moonstone, by the same author!

  15. Midwest mama says...

    We had our older neighbor over and my 6 yr old was in charge of “making her an ice cream sundae…” Which turned out to be pretty darn decadent. I think my neighbor was secretly glad my daughter was in charge of scooping 😂. Summer agenda is about loosening up for us! :)

  16. We just got back from a week at Family Camp! This was our first time there…I was inspired to start researching family camps after watching the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, where they go up to camp in the Catskills for the summer. I found one in the mountains nearby (only an hour away from us in LA). Honestly I feel like it was the best, most summery experience I’ve had since having a child. There’s something about the responsibility of motherhood that’s made it hard for me to really sink into the carefree nature of summer. But at this camp, our 3-year-old was with the Squirrels (other 3 and 4-year-olds) all morning, and then we had a babysitter assigned to our family to put her to bed each night! So I had these slow mornings in the mountains where I got to read and journal and stare at trees, then we’d spend the afternoon at the lake or the pool together as a family, and the evenings in the clubhouse with friends having milkshakes and fries. It was the BEST. Kinda wish I was still there!

    • t says...

      Joy that sounds amazing. What’s the name of the summer camp? We are in LA too.

    • Joy Thompson says...

      Forest Home! It’s just up the mountain from Yucaipa/Oak Glen.

  17. Lisa says...

    We aren’t going away this summer which is bumming me out a bit, and my work has been crazy so I’ve just been feeling exhausted and annoyed so I’m trying to enjoy little things. On Sunday we took the kids to a new play park, then for ice cream (before lunch! What rebels!) and then went for a swim in the afternoon. At one point I was lying on the sofa, my son cuddled up next to me all sleepy and one of my favourite songs was playing, and it was just perfect. Another weekend we went to a fake beach that has been built for the summer near us, and the kids were SO excited about it, it made dealing with all the sand worth. I’ll be trying more of that, along with eating as much watermelon and peaches as possible

  18. Annie says...

    Here’s a book I cannot put down! The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See. The very first page hooked me and I’ve had to force myself to read in increments, because while I don’t want to stop reading, I love that feeling of having a book to look forward to throughout the day, so I try to make it last.

    This book is about the friendship of two women on the Korean island of Jeju, a place where women are the focus of the society. They are in charge, doing dangerous work free diving in the ocean to support their families, while the men take care of the children. This book whisks you away to another world, a beautiful, intriguing one full of strong, resilient, inspiring women.

    • Christine says...

      I never realized how much people love fireflies! I grew up in the Midwest so they have been around for as long as I can remember. After reading all of these firefly related comments, I feel as if I have taken them for granted and am going to make a point of showing them to my daughter tonight. They truly are magical little bugs… thanks for the reminder!!

      Also, I have to say that summers have always been quite amazing however, this summer, my first summer with a one year old, has been my absolute favorite by far. Experiencing summer through her eyes has been more magical than I ever could have imagined.

    • Jessica says...

      Thanks for the recommendation! We’ve been to Jeju a number of times, and I LOVED it! It was like our little island paradise while we lived in Korea. I’ll be reading this next!

  19. Ro says...

    Love the idea of a low-key summer checklist. I’m currently working seven days a week and feel really bad that I haven’t been on vacation, or done anything “fun.” And it’s already the middle of July!!! But I have managed to squeeze in a few moments here and there.

    I drove to the beach the other day before work, for example, just for an hour to swim in the ocean. I also rode my bike with a friend to an ice cream shop, and we sat outside while lightening bugs flew around us. I haven’t been to the Caribbean like some of my friends and coworkers have, but these little moments almost feel more summery anyway :)

  20. Sasha L says...

    Oh how I loved summers with kids. Mine are grown now and summer fills me with a longing for those sweet days.

    But, still fun to be had. My oldest came to visit last weekend and we baked a carrot cake and sat around with her old friends and ate huge slices. We took our dogs and her bf’s mom’s new puppy (holy freaking cute overload) to play in our river. We hiked a beautiful cool trail and admired wild flowers. We lazed on the couch and rubbed dog bellies. We made panzanella with home grown basil.

    Also on the agenda for this summer: lots more hikes (this weekend heading up high in the mountains for the best wild flower show ever AND a waterfall), chocolate zucchini cake, Mexican street corn off the BBQ at least once a week, surfing behind a boat at a lake, more camping and smores and phone free days, dog walks every night where I remind myself to feel extra grateful that it’s summer and not brutally cold at the moment. A Nora Jones concert in a few weeks and a super cute black jump suit to wear. Lots of star gazing. Huckleberry picking in a few more weeks. I just wish it all wouldn’t go quite so fast.

    • jaclyn says...

      lovely list! huckleberry picking sounds fantastic.

  21. Nina says...

    We recently moved very close to a lake. We were going to go there but it is filled with leeches and I just.can’t. so…I’m searching for an outdoor pool. I let my 11 year old stay Up ALL NIGHT three times this summer. he begged and begged…Sunday was the last night (school starts in 3 weeks) and at 6am he stumbled into my room and said “MOM I DID IT I stayed up all night” (all the other times he fell asleep and then he promptly fell asleep for several hours.

    I vaguely recall being able to stay up all night around that age and being so thrilled. Now, as a much older adult I am so happy to get to bed early and FALL ASLEEP and STAY ASLEEP that its hard to imagine why…

    We get ice cream or something cold almost every chance we get.

    On July 4th we have a tradition of getting slurpees (but no 7-11s in Georgia so we got ice cream cones this year) and driving around looking for as many firework shows as we can.

    One of the magical parts of Georgia is tons of lightening bugs. We often go outside to just look at them. Until my son was 9 we lived in Utah. They have them in 2 places there – I literally drove my son and his friends 2.5 hours to go see them. There were crowds of people and you had to line up (in a crowd of 300) and shuffle to a field where you see like 10. and then the kids got lost. Now we just walk out to our backyard.

    We walk the dogs for a mile early in the morning before it is too hot for them, their paws, and us. No phones. We chat about whatever.

    We have a few little neighborhood shops – one a deli that has delicious sweet rolls so we splurge there every few weeks. another a local coffee shop with a live singer every other week so again, we go and get coffee and sit in their comfy couch and listen – you can take well behaved dogs so we take our dog (not our terrible foster dog though). everyone loves to pet him and he loves being with us. and we love supporting small local businesses.

    • Anna says...

      Nina, this sounds so nice! <3

  22. lina says...

    “Be the arbiter and instigator of joy”. I needed to hear that today – thank you! Always love to lurk here in the comments section, love reading everyone’s thoughtful opinions. x

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      <3

    • Amanda (Mandy) Winter says...

      Same!

  23. Adriana says...

    We are making sure to have individual dates with each of our kids. Because our bedtime schedule is a little looser in the summer, we can go out each each one of the kids and have that one on one time without worrying about running home to bed.

  24. Jennifer says...

    I am not a summer person, but I’m trying hard to make the best of it. Making a bucket list helps, but I’m keeping mine low key so I don’t feel overwhelmed. I decided to say yes to any reasonable request to go for ice cream, we’d go to a nearby beach at least twice a month, spend a day at a cottage with family, and go see some of the outdoor movies and theatre in the park that our city has to offer.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      outdoor movies sound like a dream!

    • Laura C. says...

      I’m not a summer person neither Jennifer, but this bucket list is inspiring me a lot!

  25. Alison says...

    I saw a few of the working mom comments and I’m one too.

    My best low-key summer trick is called Popsicles at the Park. It’s like going to the park, but you get to eat a popsicle there. By the way our kids respond, you’d think we were giving away free iPads.

    Plus, it’s a team thing. Any parent in our neighborhood puts out a text APB: “Park. Popsicles. 7 pm.” And, anyone can show up.

    It’s been a great way to make the most of summer evenings while also not getting carried away with plans. There is a box of popsicles in my freezer right now, just waiting for the moment to strike.

    • This is such a good idea!!

    • H says...

      Hahaha. APB. Love it.

    • Roxana says...

      Haha! “you’d think we were giving away free iPads.”

      It seriously is the little things, isn’t it? : ) Love it. Enjoy those popsicles, mama!

    • Amanda (Mandy) Winter says...

      Love love love this!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love this!!!

  26. Gabriella says...

    I’ve just spent a good chunk of time reading through these comments, and it’s made me want to start a list of my own! My husband and I usually do these every year, but this year we haven’t made one, since I’m pregnant with our first baby and we both have so much work to get done before baby boy arrives in October. Last year was our best summer yet, and I’ve been sad about not even wanting to recreate a few things that made it so special. Better get on that – even if it’s not hiking and sleeping in the Slovenian mountains, or enjoying Aperol spritzes (oh, how I miss those!) and prosciutto pizza, there are so many other (non-exhausting) things we can do! Swim in the lake at sunset, make home-made popsicles, drive into the city for an ice-cream stroll, rent a paddle boat with bags packed with sandwiches, books, and cool drinks and do nothing but read, eat, and enjoy.

    Maybe summer 2019 will be a great one after all.

  27. Mara says...

    Yogurt flavor IS the best! When I go to Italy I only get a scoop of that and maybe an all fruit flavor. Hot tip: sweet frog plain ice cream (or whatever they call it!) has kind of the same tangy taste.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for this rec!

  28. Christina Wong says...

    We’re in the middle of winter now, and this post has given me such a longing and excitement for summer! I need to set a reminder to read this in November again!

  29. hali says...

    PICNICS! breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Food on a blanket is the best.
    Spa day.
    Host a huge party.
    Surf at least once.
    Grill corn!
    Pier jump!

  30. Erin says...

    I love this post. So many blogs and article about summer lists that end up making me guilty, while this list just made me feel excited and happy to be present in the world and feel that warm night time air on my skin.. I never comment but for some reason this touched me, especially the first point about swimming, and how you described simply taking part and instigating joy. We bought our first house in a seaside town in England where there is an ocean water tidal marine lake, and I can’t wait for the years to come with my son (now 2) playing in the water until the sun sets on us, and wandering home all salty and glowing.

  31. neha says...

    In summers, my lab and I go to the lake and he swims. we have the best memories from those days!! some years, there is an algal bloom and then we don’t quite know what to do with ourselves…
    But, right now, it is winters in Canberra (Australia) and the days are short and he has gotten into some serious hibernat-ings… We make memories in winters by snuggling up… he has the softest coat and cutest belly and the most hilarious tail!

    And on that note, Joanna, when are you getting that dog? ;P

  32. swimming, sunset walks and fresh, local produce are my absolute summer favorites! i make a list every season

  33. Rachael says...

    I love all of these ideas so much!!

    One of my very favorite things to do in summer with my kids is Lego Day…I totally clear our schedule and we spend the ENTIRE day putting together Legos (I do not even want to speculate on how many thousands of dollars we’ve spent on Legos but probably someone’s college tuition). So we try to put together all the disassembled sets and we eat nothing but granola bars and apples all day and at some point we put the baby down for a nap and we listen to Hamilton very loud and it’s just the best.

    • Erin G. says...

      Well I have a new thing to add to my list (and I laughed at “granola bars and apples all day” and then said out lout, “genius!”)…

  34. Susan Magnolia says...

    Every summer we go to outdoor concerts put on by the Oakland municipal band in the park. It starts on the fourth of July and goes on for the next four Sundays. Sometimes we go all out with the picnic. Sometimes its just cut watermelon and a can of Pringles from the corner store. It feels like we are crashing an older white folks party but the musicians make it feel magical. It’s like our own personal orchestra playing everything from John Souza to Star Wars. We sit on a blanket in the grass while our city kid runs free, marches and dances to the music.

    • Sarah says...

      We visit a mom n’ pop fruit orchid + berry patch in my hometown. It has acres of fruit where we walk up and down the rows carefully choosing which ones look the juiciest. I’m so happy to pass this childhood tradition along to my daughter!

  35. Courtenay says...

    My four year old’s only summer bucket list item is to get lots of candy and eat it. Apparently we “never let her eat candy”. *insert parent eye roll here*. Well I blew her mind when I set her up to make her own candy necklace while camping.

  36. Kelly says...

    I love the idea of giving a name to those do-nothing days! I always feel guilty in summer, when it’s bright and sunny outside, and all I want to do is stay indoors. Part of me kind of hates summer for that very reason. From now on, I’m going to try to think of those days as “catch-up” days and enjoy rather than feel guilty!

  37. Kim says...

    Yes!

  38. Kristine says...

    Loved this post, thank you!

    Do you have any plans to continue with your “parenting around the world” series? They are my absolute favorites!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’re skipping this summer bc we’re short staffed but we’ll be back in full force next summer! xoxo

  39. Jen says...

    Omg I’m so knee deep in work now but I have to keep reminding myself that we’ve had a great summer so far! Definitely letting the kids stay up longer. Trying to host more bbqs. More camping! We definitely need to do better about day trips. We get caught up on weekend chores and we wonder how come we just did laundry this weekend!

  40. Elenor says...

    I love the photo idea. When we vacationed with friends in Croatia a couple summers ago we let the kids (ages 11-14) loose in the little island village to take artsy photos with our I-phones. The adults stayed at our rental enjoying cocktail hour and after, we then gave awards for different categories and included them in our group photo book. It was so fun to see which aspects of the village or items, cats, coffee shops, statues and views spoke to each child. The photos were pretty impressive!

    • Jackie O'Brien says...

      This is such a fun idea, for everyone involved!

  41. Marisa says...

    My kids are booked with camps because I have to work. I would love to have a slow summer, but we have to eat and have a home and stuff. I love this post and we certainly find a way to relax and have fun!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, our kids are in day camp, too! my husband and i both work full time. but we do this on some evenings or weekends. (tonight we did nothing fun, haha, we just came home from work and put them to bed.) i think we’re all just muddling through doing the best we can :)

    • Azlin says...

      I love that phrase Joanna “muddling through”. It does feel that way most times ❤️

    • C says...

      Thanks for that reply Joanna. It’s so easy to feel guilty and think everyone else has figured out a way to do it all! I would love to somehow see more posts about just this: muddling through.
      Thank you for keeping it real while providing some inspiration.

    • Sasha L says...

      Summer is truly the most FOMO time of year, isn’t it? Really though, what children remember later are super simple things – the ice cream cones on a Wednesday evening, popscicles after a splash park on Sunday afternoon, the Saturday morning you let them pick their own donut (notice how all of my examples involve treats?! 😉). Also, don’t underestimate how much fun they are having at those camps. Meanwhile, we’re all working away tirelessly, but they are having a ton of fun and that counts too.

  42. Grace says...

    My book recommendation for the beach is Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey Mcquiston. Sweet and raunchy!

  43. Leah says...

    Easy dinners like of corn on the cob and tomato sandwiches (sliced ripe tomatoes, mayo and Maldon salt on brioche) or cucumber sandwiches (cream cheese on pita with sliced Persian cucumbers and Maldon salt) and fresh fruit. Minimal prep / clean up = more time to play outside!
    Root beer floats
    Drive-in movies
    Catching fireflies
    Entire afternoons at the pool
    Making homemade ice cream
    Minor league baseball games

    • Lana says...

      We just had root beer floats tonight while we played Crazy 8’s! My kids lost their minds over it all,

  44. I love thinking in terms of seasonal lists! Your crumble idea is a brilliant one. A new one I’ve added for us this year is to make sno cones! I bought a cheap machine from Amazon and put frozen juice concentrate (orange, grape, and pineapple) into condiment bottles. The kids love it! Here’s more info about it in case anyone is interested in the details: https://feedingthesoil.com/2019/06/24/easy-and-healthier-diy-sno-cones/

    • Gemma says...

      Oh my gosh that is BRILLIANT! I want a snow cone machine!!!

  45. Catherine McK says...

    Lossie, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz is a great one and I think it was just reissued this year.

  46. melissa says...

    I live in Maine and try to eat a lobster roll (at least) once a week.
    I also make an effort to ride my bike to work once a week.
    Each summer I enjoy finding a new day hike to try.
    I try to eat my weight in green beans (from my garden) and I load my freezer with chocolate zucchini bread to enjoy all year.
    Lots and lots of reading.

    • Rebecca says...

      Hi Melissa! I live in Maine, too. What is this chocolate zucchini bread you speak of? It sounds delicious and I would love it if you could share the recipe!

    • Sasha L says...

      Me too! Pls share 😊

  47. Amy says...

    Kids ages 8, 6, and 3:
    -a week of swimming lessons at the rec centre
    -blackberry picking anytime we walk anywhere in August
    -the yearly camping trip with extended family
    -the twice-yearly road trip 8 hours away to the other extended family
    -homemade popsicles almost every day
    -every beach in a 30 min vicinity at least once (we live on an island plus there’s lake beaches)

    • Maggie says...

      Vancouver Island?

    • Vero says...

      Oooh Vancouver Island! That’s where I live :) All sounds so familiar <3

  48. Yolanda says...

    My suggestion for an older movie to watch with the kiddos is The Princess Bride. My littlies were a tiny bit scared first time watching, but oh my, they love it so much now. Ps. That photo Anton took of you and Alex is incredible. Worth getting a really good print of it and putting it on a wall. Your expression is magical and the framing is just wonderful.

  49. Caroline says...

    After the kids go to bed you should try playing subjective guess who with Alex. You ask subjective questions like does your person keep an umbrella in their car or does your person eat breakfast every morning. The answers might not always be a straight yes or no. It’s also really fun to play with teams. You’ll be surprised how many times you guess the right person and it feels like a victory for everyone when you do!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, SO funny!!!

    • Hanna says...

      wait this is the best idea ever! laughing just thinking about it.

    • Eliza says...

      Haha! Now I’m imagining all the characters who would or wouldn’t keep an umbrella in the car. Herman obviously does.

  50. my kids’ posterboard summer to-do list includes: shoot film, go fishing, gas station donuts, ride bikes, summer reading program, pick blueberries, homerun derby, “popcicles”, summer reading program, and mt st helens. the simple things are the best.

  51. Alannah says...

    This makes me giddy with excitement thinking about “one day”.. one day when I’ll get to live in my own home with my husband, one day when I *hopefully* have children and we can have fun summer adventures.
    Thank you for this this morning Jo, I needed it!
    (Middle of winter in Australia and rushing to get to work, reminds me its all worth it!)

    • hita says...

      Aw, this comment made me think back to when I lived by myself and was hoping for my own ‘one day’. It’s here now, and the stories I tell my 8 yr old daughter under the covers at night- are about the time I lived by myself and went on all sorts of adventures. Enjoy your ‘once upon a time’ while you wait for ‘one day’! :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hita, i felt the same! what a sweet comment :)

  52. Jenny says...

    And that photo by the way is gorgeous- Anton is so talented. So often kids see what we can’t, as normally we would have just aimed at taking the picture so both people are in the centre, but taken the way he took it- it looks so beautiful and artsy and creative. Those colours are so pretty and pastel and they shine through and bring out the feeling of your love even more.

    • Christy says...

      I liked it too. You can tell he is primarily focused on his mother :)

  53. Jenny says...

    Yes to staying up late on gorgeous summer nights and to chubby babies learning to walk 😍 Love love love these!

  54. Alexandra says...

    Yes to the different ice cream flavours! On our honeymoon in Italy we tried different gelato flavours every day! I put on half a stone, but totally worth it!! The best was in Rome – dark chocolate and tonka bean! It was out of this world!!

  55. LizzieF says...

    Hi Jo – huge fan of your blog! And loving the digital camera idea for my granddaughter (aged 4 and a half) during the school holidays.
    Not sure if it’s my pc, but the link to the Northern Ireland parenting isn’t working? Many thanks and have a great week.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, lizzie! i’ll fix!

  56. Noora says...

    I just had my first child in April and I’m so excited to be able to spend all summer with him (I’m a NYC public school teacher). I’m planning on getting as much snuggle and cuddle time as possible, drooly baby smiles galore, going on daily walks around the neighborhood and to my parents so they can have their grandparents time. My public library hosts a Mother Goose class every Wednesday so you’ll find me and my baby there. I love reading and have been savoring a few pages of my book everyday- I’m reading Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson and man, it makes me feel so nostalgic for summer. It sounds like there’s going to be heat wave this week so it’s a perfect excuse to stay home and finish Jane the Virgin (I’m only on season 2.) I just popped a blueberry crisp in the oven and plan to eat it on my terrace while the sun sets with my husband. I also just texted my sister in law about starting a coffee/tea date tradition with her and my 70 year old mom-meet up every 2 weeks at local coffee shops or at each others houses for coffee and chai and lots of girl talk. Happy summer everyone!

  57. Kim says...

    I couldn’t wait to show my daughter the Sound of Music, but I held off until she was about 9 for fear that she might reject it forever. Her BFF’s mom felt the same way, so we planned to have them watch it together to make it more fun. They were lukewarm about it, and we moms were devastated. Just kidding, but it was kinda sad. Then! We took them to a Sound of Music sing-a-long and they finally saw the light! I was so happy when I heard through the bathroom door that she chose the soundtrack to sing along to in the shower. Mission accomplished.

    • AzureSong says...

      I started my kids of with a shortened version of The Sound of Music: You skip the nuns and start with Maria arriving at the house and being introduced to the kids via whistle. Then the movie “ends” when the kids sing “So Long, Farewell” at the end of the party. Skip over the Nazi’s and the scary graveyard scene with the gun and Rolf. My kids loved it! They were surprised though when several years later they found out there was more to the story.

  58. Sophia F. says...

    Not to rain on this parade, but… how do you get your kids to slow the eff down?!? I have two high energy daughters, almost four and almost six, who always need to be doing something exciting. They’re basically both Ramona Quimby, with an equally Ramona partner-in-crime. If there isn’t something going on, after five minutes I’ll hear the boooooored complaints, and then they’ll come up with their own entertainment – theoretically great, except it means things like coloring the kitchen cabinets with sharpies because they’re too plain, or making a blizzard out of baking powder to play in. God forbid I try to go to the bathroom or read a book. There is no such thing as a quiet moment coloring, or playing with toys, or reading, and I’m gritting my teeth until school starts. Help!

    • Betsy says...

      Agree! My almost 6 year old son and 3.5 year old daughter are always on the move! If not, they’re fighting constantly. Whew…it’s been a loud summer already…

    • Alison says...

      Go out. All the time. Make them run around the park, play tag, ride bikes, chase bubbles, hide n seek, go for walks, swimming…I forget where I read about parenting that a good dog is a tired dog and it’s equally true for kids.

    • Marisa says...

      Hi Sophia,
      When our kids were little, we so missed being able to go to the beach (we live by the ocean) and read a book, then go for a swim together. So, we hired a babysitter for 2 hours one afternoon. It was so magical and so worth it! They loved their babysitter, and everyone was happy. Just a suggestion….

    • Wendy says...

      Check out Workspace for Children. It’s a mom’s blog and she has some lovely ideas. I recently stole this idea from her: I froze marbles and flowers inside of ice cubes, then dumped them into a plastic bin. Sounds simple, but my almost-four-year-old grandson, normally crazy active, was mesmerized and played with them for at least a half-hour! (I’ve got another tray of ice, this time in rainbow colors, in the freezer, ready for his next visit!)

    • emily d says...

      THIS. i have a *high* energy set of girls and whew, i’m exhausted (and work outside the house four days a week!). my main move is adventures with friends, so that someone/something else can have a turn as the focus of their curiosity. we do a lot of hiking with picnics, swimming at the city pools, early morning coffee shop excursion with a long walk involved, and museums that are kid-friendly, like nature centers.

    • Shan says...

      I have two high energy kids too, and summer is too hot where I live to spend any extended time outside. My slightly over the top suggestion is a bounce house. We bought a small one for Christmas, move around all the furniture in our living room, and they bounce for hours.

  59. Sherrie Saag says...

    Maybe not a “beach read” but just finished The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer – OMG – a writer like Jane Austen – to be savored and enjoyed slowly……If you aren’t familiar with her – she wrote her first novel about 10 years ago – The Invisible Bridge, which is equally fantastic. It took her 8 years to write this book. Do Not Miss. I just love all your book posts.

    • Ally says...

      The Invisible Bridge is one of my favorite books. I’m about half way through the Flight Portfolio. It’s fantastic; she is an incredible writer.

  60. Laurie says...

    I wish I could hang out with all these commenters this summer. Does anyone else have the frustration of trying to hang out with other parents and kids and find that every one of them is booked solid with LEGO camp, swim team, ninja LEGO camp, cooking camp, soccer team, STEM aromatherapy camp, etc? Our teacher sent home a set of math flash cards for the summer and I just slid them quietly into the recycling can. I feel like the last mom in our town that has wet towels in the trunk, ice cream napkins in my bag and no idea what we’re doing next. Here’s to summer! I love it.

    • Abesha1 says...

      Yes.

    • Alexandra says...

      THIS.

      It’s like having no plans is really a plan to not see your friends all summer. :-(

    • Angela says...

      Yes!!! My kids are a little younger, but agree!

    • Gemma says...

      YES SO MUCH.

    • Maria says...

      This comment cracked me up. So true. And financially speaking, I feel like the money spent toward ALL the activities can be better spent by throwing it into a 529 plan.

    • Lindsey says...

      STEM AROMATHERAPY- LOLOLOL

    • Chelsey says...

      You made me laugh! This comment is spot on. People are always asking me “what are your kids in this summer?” In??? They are “in” the dirt, usually undressed and always messy having the time of their lives doing absolutely nothing and everything all at once.

    • Mary Campos says...

      I wish I could send you a photo of my car right now!! Even my 6 year old asked if we should clean it out . I’m grateful for friends that I can text and say, this weekend is going to be 99 degrees what are you doing? Would it be totally scrooge like to take the kids to see Lion King! (mostly because I want to see it and I don’t want to deal with the beach crowds!!) I think the more you act like yourself, the more you will find others who think the same way as you and are relieved that they can just be who they are. For the record: I watched hours and hours of game shows on my summer days in the ’80s! And have great memories of doing so! :)

  61. L says...

    We live in Maine where the summers are so sweet but also so short. Every June, we sit down with our kids and make a list that we tape to the fridge. We check it all off, every year. This summer a few of the items are:

    – Swim in the ocean
    – Swim in a pool
    – Eat breakfast on the beach
    – Hike in the woods
    – Take a ferry ride
    – Play tennis
    – Swim in a quarry
    – Dinner on a farm
    – Make s’mores

    Also, is there any better feeling than taking a shower in the evening after being sandy/salty/hot all day? Then putting on clean shorts and a t-shirt and padding around the house while the sun goes down but the air is still warm. It’s the best.

    • mara says...

      Your summer sounds absolutely magical!!

    • Julie says...

      Yep. That’s absolute heaven right there. Grew up going to Maine in the summers and that nighttime tiredness with a little hint of sunburn is the best feeling in the world.

    • Christine says...

      Yes, you described this perfectly!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, yes to the evening shower and clean shorts and a tee. the best best best. and also the taste of chips before dinner as you relax outside and your body is tired and you’er surrounded by people you love.

    • Bec says...

      It’s winter here *sob* but this comment “any better feeling than taking a shower in the evening after being sandy/salty/hot all day? Then putting on clean shorts and a t-shirt and padding around the house while the sun goes down but the air is still warm.”…I can’t wait for it to be warm again. And no, I do not think there is a better feeling.

    • Caroline says...

      I grew up by the water, and after an evening shower, I’d sit on the porch in my bath towel! Scandalous but so spontaneous and summery.

  62. marcella says...

    i love this list. i feel like as an adult i have learned to appreciate summer more – as a kid i DREADED summer and would always be itching to go back to school (nerd!). however now that i work full-time i try to appreciate the seasons more by getting outside after work after being trapped in an office for 8 hours. my boyfriend and i walked his dog last week around dusk and got to see fireflies :) i also love making a good summer dessert, going tubing on the river here in south tx, eating a watermelon paleta, enjoying an aperol spritz in the pool, yum.

  63. anne says...

    My goal for this summer is to learn to live by Jenny O’Dell’s “How to do Nothing.” I’m going to relearn how to pay attention. I do hope that involves jumping in several pools.

  64. Emily says...

    I have a lot of backyard- hose-based tasks on my summer list. Run through the sprinkler, take a shower in the hose, have a water fight, take a drink from the hose, etc.

  65. Allison says...

    Feeling sad reading this while at work (in the middle of a really busy time, complete with late nights at the office), and hoping that my kids aren’t missing out on good summer memories like I had growing up of long lazy days… but I feel inspired by all the comments to not let the weekends go to waste, and let bedtimes go by the wayside for impromptu weeknight adventures (once in awhile at least!) it stinks working hard in the summer!

    • Catherine says...

      Please do not feel guilty. Your kids are having a great summer and you’re doing what you need to do. Summer can be hard when we have to work and childcare options change. It’s definitely a season that hasn’t caught up with the needs of many families.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh i’m so sorry it made you feel sad! that was the opposite of my intention. i work full-time too and my kids are either in day camp or with their sitter during these days. this list was meant as the low-key things we can do when i’m exhausted in the evenings or weekends, but still feel like we’re having adventures :) you sound like a wonderful and caring parent. xoxo

    • Jill says...

      In tears at my desk right now. I feel like the world is on vacation and all I do is work, do tasks, and wrestle my children into bed. Life doesn’t feel magical and it’s bumming me out. So…solidarity, sister.
      (Also, Jo, not meant to be a dig at all. This is a great piece, I am just feeling low.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      sending you the biggest hug, jill. you’re doing a great job just getting through it. i love the quote “some years ask questions, others answer,” and i feel like that really rings true for life. wish i could beam myself there for a playdate/hang, so we could chat while the kids run around (and i’d also do the dishes in the sink while we talked, which my friend did for me once when i was feeling overwhelmed and it made me weep with gratitude). xoxo

  66. Jessica says...

    We had one super-late night (my 3 yo’s first) on July 4th, and it was so magic – even with a late-night meltdown from being wired/tired. He started singing, as we watched the show, “We love fireworks! We love fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks! We love fireworks!”
    I think I’ll time the next no-bedtime night for the Perseid meteor shower. My husband had never seen a shooting star (!) before I took him out to a field during the Perseids a few summers ago and I can’t wait to show my kid.

  67. Sarah says...

    My summer bucket list usually involves the same few items: get outside as much as possible, preferably including sunset walks along the river. take afternoon naps on the couch in the air conditioning. drink as much seltzer as you can handle. bake with all the fresh fruit (strawberry cake, cherry clafoutis, strawberry/rhubarb crumble in the past 10 days alone!). and make “the dinner”: fresh mozzarella, plump, ripe figs, torn prosciutto, basil, and a honey/lemon/EVOO/s+p vinaigrette– eaten with crusty bread. it’s an old Jamie Oliver dish I’ve made for six or seven years now, and it never gets old. you know how people order a certain meal every time they vacation in a favorite place? this dish is what gets me through February and March. it is my vacation.

  68. Erin says...

    Re. blowing bedtime: A happy summer memory from my Canadian childhood is of the night my mom gave up on putting us to bed while it was still light out, and my sister and I ran through the sprinklers on our front lawn in the 10 p.m.-not-darkness. Fully clothed.

  69. Caitlin says...

    I am on a sabbatical and it will be the only summer I have off while my kids are still little (6 and 3) so our summer goals are to try as many new playgrounds as possible and to swim as much as we can. Two weeks in and we’ve been to 5 new to ya playgrounds so i’d say we’re overachieving.

  70. Lauren says...

    My husband and I have declared Firefly Watch 2019. I grew up in California and hadn’t seen them – almost hadn’t believed they were real, actually – until I moved to New York City, and I gasped aloud the first time I spied one on the sidewalk in Harlem a decade ago. They’re still little miracles to me, but I’ve been missing out on them for the past few years, which is crazy: the yard between our apartment building and the next one teems with living sparks at dusk in July when it’s still and humid. This year I’ve made a point of being outside at that hour, and when I see some I text Joe: NOT A DRILL, WE HAVE FIREFLIES. He comes downstairs and we watch our neighbors’ kids dance among them in the gloaming. It’s fantastic.

    • SD says...

      “The gloaming”. This! It is my absolute favorite time of the day, and I love that there is such a cool word for it!

  71. Kathy says...

    This grandma says bravo for all of your ideas!!

  72. AM says...

    Read novels, swim, don’t get hung up about my kids’ bedtime, binge Terrace House on Netflix, and get a pedicure for the first time in years.

  73. Kirsten says...

    Summer goals include:
    – At least three hours outside every day
    – Have at least half a day each day with no real agenda
    – Try not to waste too many of the vegetables we’re getting in our new-to-us CSA (and learn how to can and preserve some stuff to meet this goal. V excited about the possibility of home-canned pasta sauce)
    – Let my toddler eat as many popsicles as she wants (they’re just frozen smoothie, so healthy, right?)
    – Remind myself to go outside at night! We have a routine post kid-bedtime that’s very inside-centric, but the other day I went out to take out the compost after dark and the yard was just SWIMMING with fireflies and it was the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.

  74. Daniela says...

    I love “catch up days!” My fiance and I have every Sunday off together and usually don’t plan anything. Instead we just sleep in and then decide if we want to spend all day in bed, go to a brewery, etc.

    I even took one to myself last week. I work long shifts and on my days off I’m often rushing around doing errands or meal prepping or cleaning, etc! Last Tuesday I decided to not do anything and just allow myself to do whatever, so I looked at cookbooks and read a good book all day, with no guilt :)

  75. MarlaD says...

    Your mom is 100% correct about the pool (beach, lake, etc.) – everyone is so worried about how they look, they could care less how you look. I decided this when I was in my mid 20’s and sick of covering up and haven’t looked back. I hope to be snorkeling in Hawaii (my absolute favorite activity in the world and can never get enough) well into my 80’s and not giving a damn what anyone thinks.

    • Amy says...

      My list is:

      Berry picking with the kids (done)
      Visit the lavender farm for family pictures

      We also try as much as possible to walk the dog in evening as a family. It can be tough with a two month old and a toddler but when we succeed, it’s my favourite part of the whole day.

  76. Erin says...

    I love this, we spent June furiously trying to knock things off our summer bucket list and all my kids want to do now is camp in our backyard, run through sprinklers and make s’mores. I’m all about the mellow no-pressure summer.

  77. Andrea says...

    The other night, kinda wiped out after a big day at work, I came home and changed out of my work clothes, but instead of getting dressed again, I threw open my bedroom windows, turned off the air conditioner, turned on the ceiling fan, and laid down on my bed in my bra and undies and read a book. Suddenly I was a sophomore in college again, living in an old house off campus with no air conditioning. My 12 year old daughter came in my room, saw me, ran and grabbed her Wings of Fire book and laid down next to me. We didn’t drive to soccer, we didn’t cook dinner (about 8pm we got up and ate some watermelon) and I think it’s a night I will always remember.

    • Nadja says...

      I love this!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love <3

  78. Sara says...

    When my husband was young, his family had a summer tradition of “pajama rides” that we have wholeheartedly adopted with our own kids. At least a few times over the summer, my husband and I will proceed with the usual bedtime routine (potty, teeth, pajamas, books), tuck them in, come downstairs….and a minute later we’ll crank some loud music, signaling: PAJAMA RIDE! The girls bolt our of bed, come running down the stairs, and we all hop in the car and go for ice cream. The sheer joy and excitement of their squeals and little feet bounding down the stairs is all I need in this life.

    • Sarah says...

      Oh, I love this!

    • NM says...

      I just copy/pasted this and sent it to my husband. We are bookmarking this for when the kids are a bit older (aka when one of them isn’t a baby). ;)

    • Laura says...

      Stealing this. What a great idea!

  79. Lisa says...

    I just love slow summer mornings. I am a teacher and school year mornings are so hectic getting out everyone out the door, but in summer I purposely allow mornings to be relaxed. Coffee and breakfast on the deck, picking raspberries from the back yard to put on oatmeal, sleeping in (hopefully!), watching morning cartoons, baking cookies, bike rides, just no rushing. Even if we have a busy day, those mornings are a treasure.

  80. Robin says...

    For me, the key to creating good summer memories is to have lots of unscheduled time. That way, when a friend invites me for drinks on the beach, or my dog begs to jump in the lake, or I feel like taking 2 hours to make a ridiculously fancy dinner, I can say yes! Of course, in order to have unscheduled time, I have to say no to a lot of things, but it helps prioritize.

  81. Emma says...

    We woke up Saturday morning and said let’s drive to the lake! We were a little nervous because an hour drive with our two year old and 7 week old hadn’t been attempted yet, but we did it and now I want to go every Saturday. I fall asleep now seeing my two year olds happy face while he floated, jumped off the dock, spotted every boat, clung to me in the water, and laughed at a dog swimming near by. Man I love summer!

  82. Kristín says...

    Loved all the ideas – thanks.
    “Catch up days” is a brilliant phrase – I imagine it’s Sharon from NYC taught me. I miss her blog :) do you think you could twist her arm and get her to write for a cup of jo every now and then? :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, it’s that sharon! i love her so much. i’ll ask her this weekend, we’re going to be hanging out!

    • Linda says...

      Oh yes, please! I loved her writing and think about her blog regularly – it was really good. It would be so great to read something from her ;)

    • Kristina says...

      I love the idea of Sharon as a columnist!!!

    • AM says...

      Yes, Sharon! I’ve wondered about her, too, and I’ve been wanting to read her writing again!

    • Alex says...

      I also miss that Sharon! I loved her blog so much. Please come back!

    • EG1972 says...

      I would love this too!

  83. Sophie says...

    Re: What is it that’s so good about crumble?
    Butter! salted butter with brown sugar *kisses fingers*

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha YES!

  84. Janey says...

    We just got home (Edinburgh, UK) from a FANTASTIC holiday in New York with our 3 boys and we were touched by how kind the locals were to us – allowing the boys to pet -and take photos of (!!) – their dogs! Offering us their tables when they saw we were a bigger family, volunteering help when we looked a bit lost. So we have agreed that our summer plans will include being kind to tourists – our city is packed with them at this time of year and we are going to look out any that need our help/directions/a kind word. Easy to do and I’m so proud of my 14 year old for suggesting it on the flight home!
    Also we tried Blueberry Pie ice cream for the first time in Brooklyn and loved it :)

    • Erin says...

      What an awesome 14-year-old you have! Good job, Mom!

  85. Julie says...

    -read at least 10 books. I’ve read 19 this year and 6 this summer, so I’m on track so far!
    -make linguine and clams. It tastes so definitively summery.
    -perfect my frozen strawberry margaritas.
    -go for a hike in the state park near my house.
    -take some gorgeous nature photos to hang in my house.
    -eat pizza on the Jersey boardwalk.
    -go through my old clothes for donation.
    -keep in touch with my beloved former coworker who just got a new job. I miss her and I don’t want our friendship to fade away just because she’s no longer in the office down the hall.
    -have a South Philly food tour with my brother and his girlfriend.
    -go to at least one nostalgic outdoor concert with my husband. Last year we did Cheap Trick and Foreigner and it was so much fun.

  86. Gertie says...

    Have a yes-day, say yes where you usually say no to the kids.

  87. I have some tame summer goals too – make a cat mobile (feathers and string hung on a branch) to dangle above my kitty’s “catio”. I also want to finally haul out the dehydrator I was given as a Christmas gift and make beef jerky, dried ginger and mango strips, visit the new museum that opened almost 2 years ago, paint the bathroom doors and take a drive out into the country when the canola fields are flowering. I love having summer goals. Last year I picked strawberries from a field, made strawberry jam, clotted cream and biscuits to serve to my honey-bun. :) I felt like a Rockstar!

  88. Chrissie says...

    I made a list of things to do with my three kids that all involve not leaving our small little city. (Salem, Massachusetts- there’s actually a lot to do here)

    On the list we put- the little free trolley, a drive in movie they have at the beach a few times over the summer, our local art museum, and then all of the witchy tourist attractions we’ve never done before! We tried the “Witch Dungeon Museum” and it scared the shit out of my six year old but hey! We’re making memories!!

    • Katie Loeffler says...

      Hi! I’m in Salem, too!! How funny. You don’t happen to be a member of the Salem Mamas facebook group, do you?? I’m over on Derby Street near the wharf. Definitely take the kids to get ice cream at Captain Dusty’s then walk to the lighthouse and back! They even put out Adirondack chairs on the green in front of the water. I’m sure you know, but there’s a little garden between the Custom House and Narbonne House. It’s always so quiet there, and the kids can walk around to look at all the pretty flowers.

    • Becky says...

      If you haven’t been yet, Bambolina is one of our favorite restaurants. They catered our wedding! Trying a different restaurant is always on our summer list haha

    • Chrissie says...

      Katie, I recognize your name from Salem mamas!! Too funny! Cup of Jo comments are the best!

  89. Nathalie says...

    I recently tried orange basil gelato. It was equal parts wonderful and horrible; my taste buds were really confused.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      have you tried olive oil gelato? so, so good as well.

    • Nathalie says...

      Ha, I generally love your recommendations (Dior lip glow!) but I’m probably going to pass on this one. I once baked cookies and the recipe called for a neutral oil – which I ran out of – so I substituted olive oil . . . Still gagging over that.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha it might not be for everyone. but it’s so subtle and delicious. :)

  90. Amanda says...

    I’m due with my first kiddo in late September, so in preparation for an autumn/winter of newborn haze, my husband and I have been in YES mode – concerts (even on week nights!), festivals, staying out way too late with friends, camping weekends, Saturdays where we leave our house with no plan and do WHATEVER… yes to every idea and invitation. Our chores have been neglected and frankly we’re a little tired, but there’s something very fun about living like our college selves while being 35 and on the brink of a major life change! Can’t wait for our little one, but thoroughly enjoying this season. :)

  91. Kara says...

    Our family’s summer bucket list includes: swim at the beach, make s’mores over a campfire, go for a walk in the woods, and ride a ferry boat. I also love the idea of blowing bedtime at least once and letting the kids stay up as late as they can! Definitely adding that one to my list.

    As for books you can read in a day, I recently picked up My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and could NOT put it down until the last page.

    • Lizabeth Anne Vuillemin says...

      I have had My Sister, the Serial Killer in my cart for months. Thanks for the reminder! I just hit the order button, and cannot wait to dig in to the book.

  92. Roxana says...

    LOVE THIS! Fantastic list.

    I am right there with you. We just spent the morning at the Lake (Michigan ;). My littlest is covered in sand, sleeping in his crib. The place is a mess, but we all feel relaxed and energized. Also, I quite literally threw my tattered old copy of Pride & Prejudice in the beach bag this morning. Haha! Jane Austen for the win.

    Will definitely try your other recommendations; a late night out would put my older two kiddos OVER THE MOON.

    In the meantime, our new “to do” item this summer is exploring all the forest preserve bike trails in our area. It has been so fun.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this inspiring list and for the Jamie Varon quote. It makes me think of when I was in my early twenties. Our friend group (we were all new, young professionals) spent an entire summer meeting-up for dinner/beers after work, going to the beach, going to a late night movie, playing tennis, going to outdoor concerts, going out to ice cream, playing games, doing anything and everything the city had to offer. We quite literally did something EVERY night and every weekend that summer. We are all still pretty close and still refer to the summer of 2002 as “The Summer of Fun.” I think it’s definitely time to live-out another “Summer of Fun.”

  93. Silvia Roncagliolo says...

    Oh what a lovely text to read! I am on holiday (with my 12 yo daughter) and we have just spent a lazy day in watching tv series we love…
    Tomorrow I’ll jump in the sea before anybody else and read a book in the shadow. I would have done it anyway, but now – thanks to you – it has a whole different taste.
    Have a wonderful summer, everybody! ☀️♥️

  94. Lauren E. says...

    Summer is when I miss living upstate the most. I know NYC has its summer charms but I so miss the fireflies, bike rides at dusk, my parents letting us stay up WAY past our bedtime to swim because we didn’t have AC, long days at the pond with a cooler full of watermelon and PB&J. Everything felt so special!

    • Allison says...

      yes…. can’t wait to get upstate this summer for our vacation!

  95. Sarah says...

    My husband and I have a physical summer bucket list taped to our fridge which includes: eating oysters outside at the lake, having friends over for a backyard BBQ, going to chicken shit bingo, tie dying, going crabbing, taking a long walk to a lunch spot, hiking with our dog, and eating Caribbean food outside. I think I need to add “try a new ice cream flavor.” Smart!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what is chicken shit bingo??? :)

    • Isabelle says...

      Ha ha, never heard of chicken shit bingo, seems hilarious! We have the something similar here in Switzerland, but it’s loto with a cow!

    • Sarah says...

      For the first time in my adult life of 37 years, I finally have a house with a yard. It’s tiny and gorgeous, with huge overgrown tress and wild birds. So even though I just moved to Montreal a few months ago, my biggest summer goal is to hang out here.

    • LS says...

      OMG this is in response to Joanna’s comment. As a frequent visitor of Austin, you MUST look it up and take the boys next time you’re in Texas. It’s as insane as it sounds.

    • Sara says...

      We discovered chicken shit bingo for the first time this summer when visiting a small-town festival in rural Wisconsin. It’s as hilarious as it sounds.

      To play you had to buy one of the 16 $2 tickets that they were selling. Each ticket was numbered (1-16). The number of your ticket corresponded to a numbered square on a 4×4 encaged grid (think chicken wire around a piece of plywood with a numbered checkerboard scrawled on the surface). After all of the tickets were sold, everyone gathered around the caged grid, and they put a chicken inside. And then…you wait for the chicken to poop. You win if the chicken poops on your number/square.

      The hilarity of seeing young and old come together chanting “poop! poop! poop!” at a chicken in a field in the middle of no where was an unexpected highlight of that trip. We’re still talking (and giggling) about it.

    • Kaitlyn S says...

      Isabelle, as a former upstate NY-er, I have never seen chicken-shit bingo, but we had cow shit bingo, too! What an experience – I’m so glad it’s cross-cultural.

    • Lulu says...

      Is it as literal as it sounds … a yard full of chickens, doing what chickens do, onto some kind of …bingo grid??? The mind boggles. Does everyone just stand around staring at the chickens, waiting for them to . . . ??? The mind boggles some more.

      I’m assuming that beer is involved. (For the people standing and waiting. Not the chickens.)

    • Kara says...

      Oh yes – Chicken Sh*t Bingo is very similar to a popular fundraiser in my neck of the woods – Cow Plop Bingo!

  96. Lena says...

    I love your selection of great summer ideas – BUT: a disposanle camera is something I would never buy. How to teach your children about the horrible (plastic) waste on earth and ocean and then give them a single use item. My heart breaks.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great point, lena. kids can use your phone to take photos instead and that works so well. thank you for the reminder/push.

    • My sister worked the photo counter of a drugstore chain in high school and we learned a very fun fact – Kodak reuses the camera’s after the film is taken out! They get picked up and loaded with fresh film, and resold many times. I cannot say if all suppliers do the same, but Kodak is probably the biggest household name in disposable cameras.

      Below is from their site, or you can read more in depth: http://wwwuk.kodak.com/global/en/service/faqs/faq5022.shtml

      At present, Kodak has two recycling programs aimed at the recycling and reuse of post-consumer materials. Kodak’s acclaimed One-Time-Use Camera (OTUC) recycling program is a closed-loop recycling program that utilizes almost all of the parts of the camera after consumer usage to make new OTUC. For additional information, please visit the One-Time-Use Camera Recycling Section.

    • Heidi says...

      I found an old digital point and shoot camera when I cleaned out our office, I plan to put new batteries in it and give it to my daughter to play with. I’m sure you can find them at thrift stores, too!

    • Sasha L says...

      We have an old digital camera that I bring out for my preschoolers. It’s incredibly fun. I love to scroll through the photos at the end of the day. It doesn’t really matter that we don’t print any, it’s the process of making a picture that’s so fun for kids. Added bonus: my phone doesn’t get broken.

    • Tricia says...

      My husband and I bought our daughter a waterproof digital camera as a Kindergarten graduation present. It’s more spendy than a one time use but can handle being dropped and banged around. And I can upload all the photos up to my computer or phone when the card is full. Two years later this is still her favorite thing. And the videos she takes talking to herself in her treehouse are just priceless.

  97. Alexandra says...

    I am a member of a “nice” gym with a variety of pools and waterslide, etc., and for the summer, I added my kids to the membership. Best idea ever: we have been to the pool almost every night, and it’s been so much fun. The teenager and the 11-year old usually bicker and fight all the time, but in the pool, they actually play together!

  98. Justine Radulovic says...

    Ha! I’m doing the same right now! But sub WW for Veep :)

  99. maryann says...

    I feel superstitious saying this, because surely this trend can’t last, but my kids keep putting their screens down to play…Yahtzee. My son got the game for his birthday recently and they are all about it. It’s so simple! I love it. And anything that gets them rolling dice outside on the driveway instead of staring at YouTube is a win in my book. So playing Yahtzee is now on our summer list. Who knew?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is SO cute.

  100. Marjorie McDonald says...

    I dont know you, but I blog-know-you and have for years. This list is so, so you and why I feel like, Jo from New York, is my wise, calming, kind, fun, down to earth friend.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that brings tears to my eyes, marjorie! thank you so much, that is so nice. :)

  101. Amy says...

    I love your list!

    *We all take turns picking a pie each week that I make from scratch. I don’t make many desserts year-round so this is a treat!

    *We have themed days. Rainbow day= we eat colorful food, wear silly colorful clothes, make fruit loop necklaces. Game day= we play games and do puzzles all day. Tropical Day= Wear grass skirts (or make them out of construction paper) eat coconuts and pineapples and chicken skewers, listen to Hawaiian music….my kids love all these.

    * I read books at breakfast. Right now we are reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Next, Harry Potter!

    * Next, I think we may go camping and roast marshmallows!

    Other than that, lots of swimming, catching fireflies, riding bikes, drive-in movies, and popsicles.

    Now, I’m a stay at home mom so keep that in mind! All this wouldn’t be possible otherwise!

    • Sasha L says...

      Will you adopt me please? You sound like such a fun mom ♥️

    • Beth says...

      Thank you for your last comment about being a stay at home mom and how that’s what makes your list possible. I’m a working mom and this summer I can’t even take time off for a vacation with my daughter because my job is so crazy. She’s in camps all day, and we do what we can on the weekends, but sometimes these lists make me feel so overwhelmed to try and do things like this.

    • Lucy says...

      Oh my gosh, Amy! I love your books at breakfast idea. My husband is the one who gets to read the most with my 6-year-old son, since he puts him to bed (while I wrangle with our toddler). I’m totally going to do this! Thank you!

  102. Steph Gilman says...

    I’ve been going on long walks night with my dog at dusk and listening to old OnBeing podcast episodes. I put on these wonderful natural mosquito repellent bracelets (https://amzn.to/2JLL3hS) and walk for an hour or more. I also go with the intention of getting sweaty instead of being unpleasantly surprised at the end of the walk how damp i am. :) My dog, my body, and my brain are all happier afterwards.

  103. celeste says...

    We finally slowed down after a very active June this weekend and it was NICE. The kids spent about six hours cleaning up their rooms and going through too small clothes for our upcoming church rummage sale. Some of my daughter’s stuff was recent, so I put it on our community’s FB Sale Group and earned $50. Then they had the neighbor kids over to watch The Sandlot.

    Sunday, we went to a church festival with our $50 earnings, played in the sprinkler, read and set up an obstacle course in our yard, kids versus parents, kids won.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      SPRINKLERS! nothing better during childhood. and kids vs. parents = you sound like such a fun family :)

    • Good ones. Love that first quote about swimming and wet hair.

  104. Katie says...

    We stayed inside yesterday. We’re getting Barry all the way up here in Little Rock, so it’s been a constant glorious drizzle. I was going to paint, but the paint store was closed, so we had nothing to do. I got bored enough to clean the bathroom that was not really that bad. It was so hard to do nothing. I think we all needed it though I felt guilty and off about it all day. I guess I had plenty of days where I did nothing as a kid, and I’m okay now. It’s so hard to not be productive.

  105. bbnn says...

    You know what’s weird? The last photo- I actually very clearly noticed myself gladly noticing little children of color playing in the pool. It made me realize how little I see that on many blogs and sites I so often spend my time on. As a woman of color, I really appreciate it. One thing that has clearly been identified as helping children (and adults!) move to a better place in terms of race in America is just seeing children who are not white being represented as children. Not brown children who are included as a token, or foreign children included in some travel/tourist photo, or good or bad children. JUST children who are not white. Thanks, Joanna!

    • Becky says...

      So many things on this list!
      I am a huge reader and I’ve always wanted to follow a book challenge, as seen on social media, just to open some new doors of interest. I can never find one I’m in love with so I think I’ll make my own! But for now I’m reading the two most recent Stephanie Plum books, just finished Every Note Played and Otherwised Engaged.

    • Heather Leigh Fuller says...

      I second this! Children of color are so rarely shown being children that it jumps out at me. Looking forward to this being the norm and me not noticing it but until then I want to shout the positive representations.

    • Becky says...

      Ugh I’m sorry my post shouldnt have been a reply to you. Operator error, insert forehead slapping emoji.

    • nadine says...

      hi Becky! to make a sort of connection between your answer and BBNN’s comment, I discovered (maybe even here?) a few months ago the podcast The stacks: https://thestackspodcast.com/ It has great books challenges if you’re up to :)

  106. Barb says...

    I made “Aim for Yes” my parenting motto after reading it on Cup of Jo. I wasn’t a parent at the time, but I’m now enjoying summer with a one-year old son, and I think about this every day.
    Can my baby dig through my flower pots because he likes to feel (and taste) dirt? Yes.
    Can he open up all of my cabinets in the kitchen and pull out every pot and pan? Yes.
    Can he give the cat and dog 10 treats a day because he thinks it’s the most fun to chase them around? Yes.

    I’m realizing how fleeting these moments are every day. He’s not going to make my house a mess forever, and it doesn’t take long to pick up all those pots and pans. And I’ll always be able to remember the smile and giggles he made while making that mess.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love love love <3

    • Caroline says...

      Barb, SAME. My son is only 3 months and I have been waiting so long to “aim for yes” and I’m so happy I’m so close! <3

  107. Lindsey says...

    My summer bucket list items are usually oriented around food. I want to have buttery corn on the cob, drink watermelon juice and lemonade every week, take evening walks for soft serve, have my friend over for clams and white wine, and eat berries and chicken salad in the park. I want BLTs, and galettes, and oysters, and margaritas on the patio.

    But intertwined with all that, are the places I want to be. I want to take a road trip to Big Sur, I want to take morning hikes in new places, I want to visit a new-to-me beach, I want to watch free Shakespeare in the Park, and listen to music at the Hollywood Bowl. I want to be outside as much as possible, eating the most seasonal, delicious foods in the company of friends. I want to embrace the ease of long, warm days, and really take that deep breath in and think, “Wow, this is the perfect summer day.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love your descriptions of summer foods. i just finished ruth reichl’s book Save Me the Plums and your writing reminds me of hers!

    • Lindsey says...

      Omg Joanna, that is the nicest thing to say EVER!!

  108. Cheryl says...

    The Way Way Back is a hilarious and touching summer movie for older kids and adults. It’s like hanging out at a water park (on Cape Cod!) with Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolf, Toni Colette and more. Great summer soundtrack too. Highly, highly recommended! Trailer here:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yvy_0-yLMdc

  109. Katie says...

    Re: the disposable camera idea – We gave our 3.5 year old a super cheap digital camera ($20 for the camera and card) so he could take pictures on our Europe trip “just like mommy and daddy.” He took some *fantastic* pictures, and he spent more of the flight back looking through all of his photos! Win, win!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea, thank you!!!!

  110. Sara says...

    I just moved to Oregon and have discovered the magical berry season here. My great grandmother canned things but I never had much interest in it. Now suddenly I have 4 kinds of jam in 40 half pint jars! I want our 4 month old and 2 year to grow up berry picking in the summers with mom’s jams. It’s like summer in a jar-and now my christmas gifts have a good head start;)

    • Jessica Alsberg says...

      Welcome! There is so, so much magic in Oregon summers – even in this cool, rainy one we seem to be having – that my husband and I only plan major travel in the spring and fall. We don’t want to miss it!
      The berry season is, as you’ve discovered, epic. If you haven’t already, camping with your kids here is just great. And everyone has a favorite swimming hole on a river (it’s where they’ll all disappear to when we finally get a really hot, hot day!).

  111. Anna says...

    Oh my word; that photo by Anton. Did you and the sailboats call each other ahead of time to confer on what to wear?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  112. Jenn P says...

    I stayed inside all day yesterday. I never got out of my pajamas, read, watched The West Wing for the 100th time, and cooked. It was glorious.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      glorious!!!

  113. Loesie says...

    Re: try a new ice cream flavor:
    I got a new KitchenAid machine this year and have been in love with it ever since. Hubby got me the ice cream maker KitchenAid device for my birthday, and I have been making ice cream myself like a mad woman ever since. I bought ice cream cones from the store and now we fill them with homemade vanilla ice cream and put disco sprinkles on top! It is THE best! So for me this summer is about finding out which flavors we all like best and make them myself! 😊
    Then, I bought my first Nora Roberts book last week and have been devouring it as well!
    Plus, I discovered the wonderful show Chesapeake Shores on Netflix (it’s like one giant long Hallmark Christmas movie but then in the summer!) and now I am saving the money I don’t spend on ice cream ingredients for a gorgeous home by the water 😊

    • Sasha L says...

      We have that ice cream maker too. Have you made the butter pecan yet? OMG, so freaking good. A month ago we made a rhubarb custard pie with butter pecan ice cream and I’m so sad I don’t have a big bowl right now.

    • Loesie says...

      Sasha: I haven’t yet! Really should! I made my own strawberry vanilla ice cream with pieces of strawberry in it but it didn’t turn out as I planned… the strawberries tasted like small icebergs 😂
      So now I’ll first have a new go at strawberry vanilla… gonna purée the strawberries first and then pour them in.
      We’ll see how that goes. But the butter pécan will be on the menu right after that! Thanks for the idea!
      PS if you know of any good ice cream cookbooks, let me know! 😊

    • Amy says...

      Loesie – I’ve been ruined for any ice cream available commercially! I don’t even bother anymore. I have the cookbook “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home” – I’ve tried at least half the flavours by now and I love almost all of them. She uses cornstarch in lieu of egg yolks and it gives such a great smooth texture. I’m also impressed with Stella’s recipes on the Serious Eats website – I haven’t tried many of her ice cream recipes because I’m so happy with Jeni’s but I know she uses freeze dried fruit in her frostings to get fresh fruit flavour minus the wateriness that causes texture issues and I’m thinking she does for ice cream, too.

    • Loesie says...

      Thanks so much Amy! Will check it out! Thanks a lot. So many cooking adventures ahead! Thanks!

    • Lily says...

      Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream is another fantastic cookbook. The recipes are all Philly-style ice cream (no eggs!), so (in my opinion) way faster and easier than the standard French-style (custard-based). A faster, easier way to get ice cream at home? Yes, please!

    • Loesie says...

      Thanks Lily! I will check it out! Thanks!