There are so many ways to create memories with our children. Every day, each experience offers us an opportunity to make that moment special for them. The following are just 5 things that we do in our family to help create loving, lasting memories that will hopefully last a lifetime for all of us.
“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.”
– Sarah Ban Breathnach
1. Slow Down
That’s right, slooooowwwww down. In our desire to make sure our children experience EVERYTHING life has to offer before they’re 18 years old we often over schedule the whole family! This can lead to being tired, cranky, frustrated, stressed…the list goes on and on. Take a breath. One or two experiences in a day can be much more rewarding to a child then 3, 4, or more. Running from activity, to party, to park, out to dinner, to another party, to sports practice all in one day leaves everyone D O N E by the end of it all. Can the family push through? Probably. Is it the best on a day to day basis, probably not. Consider reviewing your family priorities to see what’s best to do on any given day. Often less really is more.
Hold on, please don’t skip this before reading!!! I know, I know scrapbooking is expensive, time consuming, overwhelming, and really only for really creative people- or maybe not!!! Sure, scrapbooks can be amazing works of art that chronicle family histories and deserve a place in a fancy museum. OR they can be a fun place that the family lets loose. Some card stock, glue sticks, crayons/markers, a few stickers, pictures, and any memorabilia and your good to go. Choose an album size, give each child a couple pictures, glue stick, and paper and let them loose. Is it going to be a crazy mess with the pictures all overlapped and cut wonky? Yup, there’s a high probability! If you’re a control freak about crafts like I am are you going to have to bite your lips not to grab it away from them to show them how it’s really done, after all you do own all the books and magazines and now how to do it the “right way?”? Yes, your lips may bleed! (I’m really hoping I’m not alone here!) Will your family actually have finished pages that the kids take pride in and enjoy looking? Oh my gosh, yes, Yes, and YES!!!
My older daughter has a scrapbook from when she was around 3-4 years old. It’s filled with pictures that don’t go together, sticker pictures she made instead of gluing down photos, drawings, and her “writing” what was happening. After she would go to bed I took the pages out and would write on the backside what she has “written” and some of the days memories. She didn’t know until recently. She loves to read and laugh about what she was thinking. Memories that would have been lost if I hadn’t let go of perfectionism.
3. Let the kids decide
Hold on, really? We’re going to let the inmates run the asylum? Ha ha, occasionally, sure! Why not?! Even young children love to have some control over their days! Recently my husband and I were all excited to take our girls to Disney World for the day- DISNEY!!! You know what they asked to do instead? Go to a movie all together and then go to the bookstore to get a book and eat a cookie in the “fancy” cafe! Seriously??? Yes, seriously! (In full disclosure we have annual passes to Disney and live close enough that we go many times a year…but still a movie or Disney, I was shocked!) When we got home and were going to bed they both told us it was the “BEST DAY EVER!” What they liked most was snuggling up in the movie theatre, all of us being together, getting to pick out a new book, and eating some yummy treats. The best day ever isn’t always the one we would choose for our kids. Sometimes it’s fun to let them choose.
4. Family Fun Nights
Family fun nights totally rock! It can be whatever you want it to be. In our family we schedule in a movie night and a game night each week. Our change from week to week because we are not always together the same nights each week. Do what works best for your family. I’ve seen other families do a certain menu theme each night like taco tuesday or pizza friday, go out to dinner one night a week, go out to a movie, have standing “date” with another family, craft day, the list can go on and on and on. The main take away is to find something that’s special for your family and then schedule it in. Kids really remember these times together, often more than the BIG things that we do!
5. Learn together
Classes, tours, museums, or any other opportunity that allows you to learn something together. It’s exciting for kids to see their parents learning something too. It’s a simple way we can model the value of education as a life long pursuit. It’s also just plain fun! I’ve (re)learned so much since having kids. I love going on all the field trips, going to the different places that offer educational programs for kids, volunteering at school, there are endless ways we can learn side by side with our children.
“Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke.”
Of course there are a million and one ways to create memories, these are just a few that I personally really enjoy. The important thing to remember is often what kids really want is just to be with us. To be by our side, working with us, sharing an experience no matter how big or small. Knowing that we have time just for them. No matter how we choose to spend that time, being together is where the best memories are made!