Family Traditions and Why We Make “Bucket” Lists


family traditions bucket list Providence moms BlogAnne of Green Gables might have been thinking of fall in Rhode Island when she said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” As I write this, fall in New England is in its peak of colorful glory, and it’s hard to be mad that summer has to end when you get to experience this! But as I gather the things to put together our Summer 2017 Scrapbook (more on that in a minute), I reflect both on what a great summer this one was and the things I am still looking forward to as we move through fall. There were some new milestones (beach trips where enjoyment outweighed effort, visits to new-to-us farms and museums where my elementary school aged kids read the signs and did the scavenger hunts and the toddler didn’t wreck the joint), along with what have become our family summer traditions.

Some of this shift is due to where our kids are in their development at ages 8.5, 6, and 2. Some is due to parental experience, as we definitely have lived and learned. However, I attribute a lot of it to the efforts my husband and I made in our early years of parenting to carve out time for the things we would like to do together as a family and to step outside our routines to try new experiences.

There is so much power and value in the process of sitting down together as a new season approaches and setting our intentions for the months ahead. We start with a brainstorming session, throwing out any idea we have both big (visiting the Boston Museum of Science) and small (watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). Ultimately we each get to choose two things that go on the final list, with our sons also each picking one thing they think their little sister would like. The boys are now responsible for being the Official Record Keepers, recording both our brainstorming session and The Bucket List (sneaky practical writing practice- check!).

The Bucket List lives on our refrigerator, providing an outline and accountability for the season. We know we will always have the usual demands and diversions of work and school and friend and family events, but these ten items become a priority in the way that only something that you have said out loud and written down can be. These seasonal intentions are our vow to each other to make time for the things we have decided are important.

I’m not going to lie — in earlier years of this practice it seemed a little bit like “forced family fun” and the effort involved to go on these outings sometimes outweighed the reward. Sometimes it was hot, sometimes we got lost, sometimes we realized skipping a nap wasn’t the right choice that day. But change is always going to come with some discomfort, right? We were discovering things and learning together, which made all of the work worthwhile.

The other dimension to this process is the way our seasonal Bucket Lists have created new traditions for our family. The four distinct seasons in Rhode Island provide for experiences that feel precious in the way they are time limited- Del’s frozen lemonade on the beach, apple picking at Narrow Lane Orchards, driving around to look at Christmas lights with hot chocolates in hand, planting seeds and starts in our backyard garden- and help us look forward to repeating them the next year as we leave each season behind. Over time many of these things become woven into our family rhythms for each season, making room on The Bucket List for trying some new experiences.

When all items have been checked off, we take down The Bucket List and collect pictures and memorabilia like tickets and brochures to make a scrapbook of our adventures. My sons have taken over this activity (I feel a post on ceding creative control of things like this might be coming soon!) and I like how it brings full circle for them the lesson of having a goal, setting an intention, following through, and reflecting on the experience.


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I have been feeling the truth lately in the saying that in parenting “the days are long, but the years are short.” Making our family time a priority and setting these intentions helps me when the quick passage of the years starts to creep in. I take comfort in both the unique memories we have made together and the experience of standing in a place year after year, reflecting on the past versions of our family that have occupied that space and how we all have grown.

If shorter daylight hours and cooling temperatures are getting you down, think about sitting down with your family and making a Bucket List for fall. How do you want to make the most of this season of life with your loves?


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Alana DiMario
A transplant from southeastern Massachusetts by way of Wells College and Bridgewater State University, Alana has been in Rhode Island long enough to feel the loss of 95.5 WBRU and Benny's, and to give directions based on where things used to be. After living in Providence, Woonsocket, and Lincoln, she happily planted her toes in the sand in Narragansett almost a decade ago with her husband Eric, a Rhode Island native. Two sons and a daughter came along afterward, and she transitioned from working full time at an intensive behavioral health clinic in Providence to her own private practice in Peacedale, Essential Parenting of Rhode Island, in 2010. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Alana focuses on helping parents navigate the transition to parenthood, supporting families with young children, and assisting people across life stages with anxiety and other mood issues. To further her mission to get families off to the best possible start, she also leads groups for new moms and developmental play groups for babies and toddlers at Bellani Maternity in Warwick. (As a mom, Alana tries to take her own advice at least 85% of the time). She is an avid reader, totally addicted to podcasts, never says no to trying out a new restaurant, and is always DIYing some type of home improvement project. She would also like to say she enjoys running, but believes it's important to be honest. Along with her family, Alana loves exploring Rhode Island's many public parks and natural areas, gardening, cooking, and - to the surprise of many who know her - going to visit a certain mouse's house on the regular.