Kelly Jensen: The Family Bucket List

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We are thrilled to have Kelly Jensen and her family participating in our Give with Thanks challenge. Kelly and her sweet husband are so wonderful and kind, and are constantly doing activities and outings with their five children–something they call their "Live List". They incorporated our Give With Thanks challenge with their Live List, and Kelly's sharing it all with us! 

How did your family Live List come to be?  
I have a personal list that I’ve been working off of for 20 years now.  Places I want to see, things I want to do, experiences I want to have, things Id like to learn.  It has things like: Take flying lessons, learn to trapeze, learn to play the piano, go to Africa, write a thank you note to someone that has changed my life…Nothing is too big or small, anything is acceptable and things can be added or taken off at any time.  There is no pressure, time constraints or limitations.  It’s not as much of a 'bucket list’ as it is a celebration of life…so I call it a LIVE LIST.  This list has enriched my own life so much that naturally as a mom, I want to help my kids feel the same type of joy, love and fulfillment in their own lives.  I want them to think big- but to also appreciate the magic in the small and simple things, and be content in that…and so our Jensen Family Live List was born.

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We’ve been doing our Live Lists for about 5 years now.  We mostly do a Summer Live list and a Winter Live list, but sometimes spring and fall too.  It’s not meant to be a a bucket list i.e.: something to cross off before time expires…But more a list of things to find LIFE in...Magic.  Love. Gratitude.  Togetherness.  It’s about sharing time, supporting each others dreams and a way to remember what those dreams are in this season of our life.

How do you come up with your Live Lists?  
We all get together with treats and popcorn and have a brainstorming session.  The rule is, that there are no rules- dream big, think small, be silly.  Of course we get some crazy ideas, but we try to let the kids talk through each one and decide why it would/wouldn’t be a good idea to i.e.: tear down the house and build an amusement park to live in…(a serious contribution our first year).  But as we talk our list starts to form and we start to give our ideas more detail.  We try to make sure we have a little of everything: service, fun, everyday activities and at least one family getaway even if its just to the back yard.  We put the list together as a family and when we are almost done—each person gets to pick one (reasonable) thing that can’t be vetoed by anyone else to put on the List.  Those are usually the best.

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We write our list and hang it in our kitchen so we see it multiple times a day.  Somethings require a bit of planning (a mini vacation, painting a picture for our house) but 90% of what we have on our list can be done spur of the moment (cloud watching with popcorn, starting a bike gang, have a flashlight  dance party, read a book under the tree, have a slip and slide tournament, etc…)  When we are bored or looking for fun my kids run to the list to get ideas.  Our ideas are always pretty specific too which makes it fun and magical—something easy to get behind.  If we don’t get to everything on our list, thats OK.  Or if we do everything on the list—we will add more.

What have some of your favorites been?
Some of my favorites have been the most simple:  Take popsicles to strangers at the park on a hot day.  Write love notes to each other and hide them in our rooms, read books under a tree, go see the wildflowers, climb a mountain, go rollerskating, jump on the trampoline with a sprinkler on, ride a train, learn a new skill, celebrate for no reason, wear our favorite colors and make mischief of one kind or another, etc.

For me our Live List means a lot.  For one: it’s a part of me I get to share with my kids. An opportunity to try to teach them to be brave and happy and to look for the good in life.  But it’s not just that…It’s about being creative. It’s about supporting each others ideas and doing things for our family members and others that we may not even know.  It’s about confidence.  It’s about hope and contentment.  And it’s mostly about celebrating life—specifically this very special season of life, when our kids are small and dreams are big.  This short period of time when they are just as happy sleeping in a family made fort, on the floor of the living room, than going to a tropical destination.  When laughter is easy and magic is everywhere.  Life is so special right now and it goes too fast.  I feel like we as parents are pulled in a lot of directions every day.   Challenges are real, responsibilities are heavy and life is busy.  This is just one suggestion for slowing it down and enjoying it a little more.  This season of life is really, really special and absolutely worth making a list and celebrating the reasons why.


Kelly Jensen

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