A Pandemic Bucket List can help us focus on what’s possible in this pandemic life. By trying something new and creating our own mini-adventures, we will remember more from this time than just the pandemic itself.
Missing "Normal" Life
Right now it feels like we are missing so much of our old ways of being, especially as the many months of living through the pandemic feel like running a marathon. Uphill. In the rain. At night. We have all learned to pace ourselves in one way or another. We have all experienced what it feels like to miss out on milestones, celebrations, family gatherings and the simple joy of hugging someone we care for but can’t be with right now.
Still, there are moments of light, too.
At times, many of us have been able to notice and appreciate some of the advantages the pandemic affords us — like slowing down and spending more time with family — but it’s hard to tap into that gratitude on a regular basis when it’s a struggle to just make it through the day. Working, schooling and living together under one roof for months on end is a huge physical and emotional challenge. For those families facing job loss, tenuous housing situations, food insecurity or poor or no internet connectivity, the struggle is that much harder.
Moving Towards Possible
Reframing this time in semi-isolation when our lives do not feel at all normal can help. It’s. important to acknowledge and grieve what we’re missing and what we’ve lost, but it’s also important to try focusing on what is possible. Setting the intention to use this pandemic time to do or learn things we may not otherwise have made time for is a simple way to bring a bit of cathartic processing to this unique period in our lives.
Take some time to reflect, both individually and as a family, to create a bucket list of things you can do right now. Traveling to Europe is out of reach, but traveling to a new regional park each weekend could be doable. Maybe your 7-year-old wants to learn how to pogo stick or skateboard; maybe paper mâché or building a Lego Golden Gate Bridge is more his jam.
This may be a particularly challenging or scary time for you and your family. Listening to one another’s intentions, goals and dreams is a way to connect more deeply with one another. Knowing others are cheering you on as you learn new skills, explore new places or just have fun together encourages confidence even, during such an uncertain time. Making plans for the future is a way to focus on hope and goals, which in turn supports our psychological well-being.
Making a Pandemic Bucket List
The idea of a Bucket List might feel overwhelming or it can be extremely freeing. Where to begin? Start by asking these simple questions:
- If you could learn how to do anything what would it be?
- What would you like to be better at?
- Is there anything you’d like to teach your siblings?
- What is something you’d like to do as a family?
- Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing or seeing? A place you’e always wanted to visit?
- Who would you like to help?
Need some inspiration? Here’s a sampling of what’s on our Pandemic Bucket Lists here at Mindful Littles:
- Jamming in our own family band
- Riding a two-wheel bicycle
- Completing 300, 500 and 1000 piece puzzles
- Learning to play Gin Rummy
- Making a cake without help
- Knitting a hat
- Reading the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series
- Wilderness backpacking
- Pogo-sticking with no hands
The great thing about a list is you can always add to it — and, of course, take off whatever isn’t working for you. And for those Bucket List items that can’t happen just yet? Dream big and keep track of those, too.
The Science Behind the Smiles
Bucket Lists are a great way to think about your values, tap into your inner child and be creative. Studies show just thinking about things you want to do in the future improves our mood.
How Thinking About the Future Makes Life More Meaningful (Greater Good Science Center)
The Importance, Benefits, Value and of Goal Setting (Positive Psychology)