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Why you (still) need a “Moment List” this fall

fall bucket list burlap+blue
Fall is here: the crisp air, the hot afternoon sun warming piles of leaves that are begging to be jumped in…the single, perfect golden leaf resting on the windshield…the crunch of dried leaves under running shoes…the chilly evenings marked by early-falling darkness.

In fact, fall is already a couple of weeks old. All your super-crafty, creative and organized friends have been planning their fall “bucket lists” since late July. They are knee-deep in all the fun things to do this season. Bonfires. Football games and tailgating. Camping out under the stars in the backyard. S’mores. Hot apple cider and pumpkin spice coffee and pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie and…okay, pretty much pumpkin-flavored everything.

This post is for you, friend.

Maybe you got behind this year?

Maybe the start of school was incredibly hectic and you didn’t get around to planning every detail of how you’d spend your time this fall?

Maybe you’ve been dealing with some major, life-altering things and you haven’t had time to visit an apple orchard yet?

I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late to make your list and do your stuff.

By now, nearly everyone has heard of the Bucket List. Made popular by a movie of the same name, it was originally a list of things two people wanted to do before they “kicked the bucket” and their time on earth ended. A Bucket List has become a way to keep track of what we’d like to accomplish during a given period of time.

I love the idea of Bucket Lists.

I just don’t like the name.

Who wants to think about “kicking the bucket” all the time?

More than Bucket Lists, I think we need Moment Lists. These lists are not about checking off what we want to accomplish. They are about shared moments we want to create, doing things that matter with people that matter.

This simple act of list-making is a powerful one. About five years ago, our family tried making a list of experiences we’d like to have during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It changed the way we experienced the holiday that year. Now, we begin every season this way.  Putting our intentions down as written words on paper gives them weight and makes them more likely to happen.

Making a list is making a commitment. By writing down our intentions, we choose the kinds of memories we want to create together. We make each other (and ourselves) a priority. We take charge of the important task of connecting with the people who matter most.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things we could do with our time during this season. There is a temptation to make the list include every possible thing we might want to do, even if we know there won’t be time to do it all.

Don’t do this to yourself. Your Moment List is supposed to help you enjoy life, not stress you out! You have to manage expectations a bit and take your situation into account as you build the list. That means the list is shorter some years than others. Last year, when our twin girls were born, for example, we knew not to aim for the same level of busy activity we had in previous years.

Here are some tips on how to make your own Moment List…not a perfect one, but one that will work for you right now.

  • Focus less on what you want to accomplish and more on how you want to feel. If baking always makes you tense, consider skipping your usual pumpkin bread making session and pick up a loaf at the bakery instead. Use that time to journal or hike or collect leaves with your kids. It’s okay to let something go if it isn’t working for you anymore.
  • Mix it up– go ahead and include some “big” activities that require advance planning (hiking and picnicking at your favorite trail with friends) if you want to. Just be sure to include some little things (sitting on the porch with a cup of tea, having dinner by candlelight, watching a sunset) that can more easily fit into your schedule at the spur of the moment. Many times, it’s these ordinary moments that soothe our souls and help us feel connected.
  • Give everyone a voice. Have your child tell you one thing she really wants to do this fall. Find out what your spouse loved most about fall as a child. Ask your best friend to help you brainstorm ways to experience the season together.
  • Use a calendar and set dates for some things up front to be sure there’s room for what is most important to you, whether that is baking apple muffins, doing leaf rubbings or visiting the pumpkin patch.
  • Enjoy the great selection of new ideas out there. Look up a new recipe or craft idea and experiment a bit. Try searching Pinterest, Etsy, Craftsy, or favorite blogs for ideas. The new contributors on burlap and blue are a great source for inspiration.
  • Take comfort in your old favorites. You don’t have to do it someone else’s way, and it doesn’t have to be new or trendy to be meaningful. Part of the joy of traditions is that they can be the same year after year.
  • No matter what, save that list. Keep it somehow – take a picture of it, or put it in a binder to revisit next year. Just looking at it together and talking about the things you did will help everyone remember how much fun you had. You don’t have to scrapbook the pictures. In fact, you don’t even have to take pictures to make memories…sometimes experiencing the moments fully together is even better than experiencing them from behind the camera.

Your list can be as intricate and creatively displayed as you have time and energy to make it.

Here are some ideas:

Mantel list from Twelve Months of Fun 
Framed dry-erasable list from Come Together Kids

 Printable list from Funky Polkadot Giraffe

Remember, though: a piece of notebook paper on your refrigerator door will work just as well. The important thing is not what the list looks like. The important thing is that you take the time to think about what you need to include in order to feel connected, refreshed, and rejuvenated during this time of year.

Even if you make a list now, it’s possible you won’t get to do it all. Things happen. Life happens. We can’t ever control it as much as we’d like.

Make a list anyway. Today. Even though the season is already underway.

Maybe you can’t do it all…but you can do something. Your list becomes part of the life you’re living. Be intentional about what you include. Then, in the midst of all your doing and going, take some time to breathe in, look around you, focus on what’s happening, and realize you are creating moments that matter.

It’s never too late to do that, you know.

So what are you waiting for? Go make your list.

Abbey Dupuy is a stay-at-home parent to a preschooler and one-year-old twins. She writes about practicing gratitude and learning to be a little easier on herself through the ups and downs of life at To keep her sanity, she enjoys running, fiber arts, baking, and going places that offer free refills on coffee or Diet Coke.


Tuesday 16th of October 2012

Great post!

Gayle Price

Tuesday 16th of October 2012

I think you make a great point! Our school year got off to a rocky start and I haven't felt caught up since! But I think the other super important point you make is that you don't have to do EVERYTHING. With the holidays coming I think it's so so important to ask each family member what one tradition or activity is a MUST for them,include those items, and be willing to let the rest go. You don't have to pick apples, and go to the pumpkin patch, and bake, and can applesauce, and attend the fall festival at school. I think as moms we sometimes overlook the importance of the quality of the activity while we rush to fit in the quantity of activities we feel MUST be done.


Tuesday 16th of October 2012

Exactly, Gayle...we have to learn to do what feels life-giving to us, keep the activities that give us (and the people we love) more energy...and just as you suggest, we have to let the rest go. It's a process. If we can learn to do it even a little bit, though, we'll feel so much better, don't you think? :-)