6 Ideas for a Parenting Bucket List

In the blink of an eye, our kids are grown and ready to venture into the world on their own. Mighty Mommy has 6 ideas for a Parenting Bucket List of things you can do with your children before they leave your cozy nest.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #223

6 Ideas for a Parenting Bucket List

As the mom of 8 kids, ages 6 to 19, I can honestly tell you that I never expected time to go by as quickly as it has. My oldest is now in college and my youngest is in first grade. It seems my babies are growing up overnight! Recently, my college-age daughter and I were chatting about some of her favorite things she did when she still lived at home. While it was a fun conversation, we both realized there were some things that she never got to do when she was living at home. 

Instead of feeling sad about that, I realized it was a great opportunity for me to sit down and create a list of experiences I wanted to have with the rest of my gang before they leave the nest. 


Such a list could be a called a “bucket list.” The phrase was popularized by the 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, which caused a national push for individuals everywhere to create their own wish list of things to accomplish before they die.    Mighty Mommy has 6 ideas of how you can create a “parenting bucket list” of things you’d like to do with your kids before they leave home:

Idea #1: Explore New Territories

How many times have you heard about a great park, camping ground, hiking path, or fun new playground and told yourself that “someday” you would take your kids there? Sit down and make a list of some wonderful locations that you’ve always wanted to visit with your kids and schedule the time to get there. If you have a dream about driving cross country and seeing some national landmarks, break down this dream down into manageable chunks. First, pick a time to go, then find creative ways to fund the trip (may I suggest planning your meals? It can save you buckets on your groceries each week). Once you’ve got the logistics down, find fun and exciting ways to count down to your goal so the whole family can be involved in making it happen.

Tip #2: Build Something Together

In today’s busy world, activities like planting a garden, building tree forts, making a dollhouse, or creating a playhouse in your basement can easily be overlooked. Put aside the electronics on a regular basis and get down and dirty with your kids. Work together with your hands and a little elbow grease to create something tangible that requires teamwork and that will create a memory for not only them, but also give them something they’ll be able to share with their own kids someday.

Tip #3: Write Letters to Your Kids

One of my favorite parts of motherhood is writing random notes to my kids. On one of my first Mother’s Days I started a tradition for my kids by writing each of them a note about what I remembered most about being their mom for that particular year. I’ve been doing that now for about 17 years, and I have saved each handwritten note in a special box with each child’s name on it. I’m not sure when I’ll give them their “love notes,” but I think these heartfelt and funny letters I’ve written over the years will be something they can cherish for a long time.

Tip #4: Help Them Find Their Happy Place

One of the greatest gifts my mother gave to my 4 siblings and myself was that she taught us how to find our very own “happy place.” I know it sounds hockey, but life is full of tough, discouraging moments, so when we are faced with something that is unpleasant and out of our control, we have the choice to dwell in self-pity, or pull ourselves together and try to find a way to soothe ourselves. 

If your family has a special vacation destination you love, or a favorite comfort food that is served to make everyone feel good, or a fun game you like to enjoy playing together, encourage your kids to remember the best of times in their lives and when the going gets tough, they can reach deep inside and visualize these happy places to bring them some instant joy and comfort.

Tip #5: Practice Being Healthy Together

There is a lot of buzz these days about making healthier food choices, staying active, eliminating unnecessary clutter and noise from your life, and learning to appreciate the importance of spending quality time with friends and family. This buzz is out there for a reason—because it’s good for us in mind, body, and spirit. Find ways to create healthy habits for your kids while they are still living under your roof so when they are out on their own, they can have a solid foundation to fall back on. My colleague, the Nutrition Diva, has tons of wonderful tips and advice for instilling healthy habits into our families.

Tip #6: Fulfill a Dream Together

How often do we talk about fulfilling a dream, big or small, only to push it aside because of work and other obligations? Before your kids start their own lives as young adults, spend time getting to know what their dreams are, and then see if there is any way you can make one of them happen. 

Maybe it’s visiting a foreign country, or renting a camper and driving to the Grand Canyon, or scuba diving, deep sea fishing, volunteering in a third world country, designing their own jewelry line, going to college overseas—whatever it might be, even if you think it’s impossible to achieve, share in the excitement with your child about his/her dreams. By taking a genuine interest in what they want out of life, you will be showing them how much you love and believe in them. And that’s a gift every child should leave home with!

Do you have any items on your own parenting bucket list? Please share your thoughts in the comment section or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT

Please check back next week for more parenting tips and until next time…happy parenting! 

Gardening and Family Road Trip images from Shutterstock

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.