katie and niklas

A bucket list for our children

Everyone says this time goes by so fast. As I rock my baby to sleep, I see other bloggers sending their children off to college. I know it won’t be long until I’m doing the same. My son’s eyelids fall, and I dream of the life I think we all hope we can give our children.

What do we want our kids to experience? What type of adults do we hope they become?

We love making bucket lists of everything we want to see and experience. (Even Tsh has one.) What would I add for my child? What would any of us add? I started to write.

A bucket list for our children.

1. Do good things for people without them ever knowing, even when it feels like an inconvenience.

2. Read the entire Little House on the Prairie series together like Jamie’s family did.

3. Give to people with less than you. Don’t just pass them money or stuff you don’t want anymore. Really give, because when you do, you’ll discover how much you receive in return. And you will learn that more stuff and more money don’t equal more happiness. They never will.

4. Play team sports like you’re part of a team. And learn sports that don’t require a team.

5. Keep this mother daughter journal or this mother son journal. I designed the series of letters and activities in these two journals to help mothers and children bond together, confide in one another, and learn the stories in one another’s hearts and minds.

mother son journaling

Photo by Katie Clemons

6. Learn the joy of winning and the humility of losing.

7. Know how to bake cookies. And share them. This skill is especially useful in college.

8. Learn how to bait a hook and fish. It sounds like such a cliche, doesn’t it? But for me, gaining this skill came with so many other childhood lessons: Always pack a sun hat. Know your surroundings. (You don’t want to start a fishing trip by snagging a tree, a pile of rock, or your sister’s shorts. Especially those shorts!) Don’t leave the worms in the car (or anything else that will melt, bake, or die). Start the day early. Stop talking so much (or the fish will never bite!).

9. Know the stories and traditions of your family.

10. Do something monumentous as a family like Renee’s family is doing.

11. Play an instrument, even if it’s only long enough to know how to read music. You never know when your grandma will be looking for a duet partner or someone to pass time with.

12. Write thank you notes like it’s second nature because it should be.

13. Dislike someone’s actions, but never hate a person.

14. Know you’re capable of really awesome things, even if it takes years to get there like building our home in the airplane hangar did.

15. Tell people, “Thank you.” Every day. Your teachers, employees, and grocery clerks will appreciate it. And they deserve it.

16. Call your mom or write to her from camp. (If you forget, your dad will call and remind you. And that’s a bad thing.)

What would you add to the list?

Katie Clemons

Katie Clemons is a storycatcher and award-winning journal crafter. She helps folks celebrate their life stories and nurture deeper bonds with her beloved mother child journals and introspective diaries at Gadanke.com. She also blogs at Making This Home.

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  1. Adopt a can-do attitude and the world – from learning a new language to fixing a leaky toilet to making your own jam – is brought within your reach.

  2. And if your child could only learn one thing from you (and your growing bucket list) what would it be? Perhaps the art and act of making a bucket list is the lesson!


  3. Just looked through the posts on your house. What an incredible place to live!! Just lovely.

  4. Great ideas on this list…thank you! I especially liked #13 about disliking actions but never hating a person. I’d add “Get in the habit of reading your Bible every day, even if it’s just a verse or two from Psalms.”

  5. This is a cute idea. I would add to read every day for fun and to travel to a different country.

  6. Love this list! Thank you. We are doing some of these already and the others are something to strive for…

  7. Kimberley Allan Mulla says:

    Beautiful! I would add:
    -love someone, truly, madly, deeply. Falling in love is the most beautiful, life- altering experience. Dive in to the deep end.

  8. Read constantly and read everything. It builds your vocabulary and widens your knowledge of the world and its people and places.

  9. Love this list and all the added comments are brilliant! I taught my daughters to perform at least one act of kindness each day, respect their elders, learn the value of a dollar, and to live in the moment.

    little today. Big Tomorrow.

  10. Linda Sand says:

    Listen. To people. To nature. To everything.

  11. Dana Kumerow says:

    Great list. I would add:

    Find something that they are passionate about..math, snakes, insects, music, history, sewing, whatever and pursue it as far as they can.

    Also develop a love of learning for its own sake.

    Love and respect nature and the outdoors. Spend as much time outside and in the “wild” as possible.

    Value daydreaming and doing “nothing” sometimes.

  12. Heather says:

    Children also need to learn that they are unique and there is no one else who is like them in the whole world !! We as parents should teach them who they are and ingrain in them that they do not have to be like anyone else! Children should grow up with a STRONG sense of identity.

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