Life can be busy and tough. In this age of social media and constant stimulation from outside sources, it can be hard to find time, patience and concentration enough to have a little peace.
You may remember a time when life wasn’t quite this way; playing baseball in the backyard with friends or riding bikes around the block. As children, we only know what we know. Having experiences and making memories with our parents is something that will last far longer than the day on which they happen.
I’m sure you can take a trip down memory lane to childhood where you remember those fond moments with your parents and other family members. Even if we can’t quite remember everything about childhood, there are those moments that stick with us no matter how old we get.
Making memories with your kids gives them a sense of purpose outside of the usual homework and extracurriculars. Your family time together will provide them with positive things to look back upon when adult life gets too hard – or teen life has them confused and trying to break away from you. They’ll be able to cherish these times forever, regardless of what happens later on in life.
Additionally, there are ways to build a bond that then allows for “memory making.” That bond is important because when your children trust you, they are willing to let go and be silly. They can be themselves without fear of repercussion. There is a line, of course, but if they tell you they can burp the alphabet, find a time for them to show you!
Here are some ways to start that bonding experience that will lead to memories that both you and your children will cherish.
Family Meal Time
Make family mealtime an important part of your daily life. This means at least one meal per day (typically breakfast or dinner) is enjoyed together multiple times per week, if not every day.
During family meal time, allow the kids to tell you about their day or talk about anything they desire. This helps build family bonds and allows the connection to stay strong between you and your kids. What happened that was funny or sad or concerning? Encourage them to tell you about their friends and teachers. The more you know (while listening and not judging!), the more they will feel at ease.
Remember, if they know they can tell you about Pokémon for five hours, they’ll know they can tell you about a kid harassing them at school. This is all in preparation for open communication.
Family meal time has been a proven way to make memories with your kids and instill a good connection so that they always feel confident telling you anything – which is your ultimate communication goal.
Family Vacations and Traditions
Try to plan a family vacation at least once per year. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or extravagant – just a little time away from daily life. Time where you put away your electronics for the majority of the day (maybe quick email checking first thing in the morning while everyone is getting ready and again after the kids go to bed) and just pay attention to each other.
You can easily put together an inexpensive vacation with your family each year by planning ahead of time. Depending on the style of your family, try some place new every time (let the kids help pick the place!) or go to the same destination every year. Either way, you will be instilling a family tradition that will not only provide your kids with memories, but allow them to carry on this family vacation tradition with their own families when they get older.
While on your vacation, try to come up with things that are only for you. For example, my family goes to an escape room on every single trip we take. If there isn’t an escape room in that city, we make sure that we hit one in Chicago when we get back. It is part of our adventure as a family. We also find a local ice cream place and try the local food. That is what works for us, but different things may work for you. Think about what everyone enjoys doing and build some traditions.
Be a Kid Again
It’s time to find your silly again. Put away the suits and the dresses, throw on those jeans and make a mess. It doesn’t have to be a literal mess, but you’ve got to find a way to chill and have a good time. Build a fort out of chairs and blankets and eat snacks that you would never let them eat in the living room. Let your kids give you a makeover and you do their makeup. Allow them to try on any of your clothes that they’d like and then go out for ice cream in dress-up. Just have fun together.
There are ways to do this even if you don’t have an entire day to dedicate. Take twenty minutes to blow bubbles outside. Wash the car together and have a water fight. Pull out weeds together and get dirty, then plant some flowers that you both know are “yours.” Let your child show you their favorite two-player video game and play it with them. Be sure to cheer and scream while you’re playing! Just make some memories.
Being a kid with your kid allows them to see a fun side of you and feel like they matter – like you both matter in each other’s world. This truly helps inspire childhood memories that they can think back upon and, in turn, look up to you as being good parents who cared about their social needs.
When kids look back on their lives, they rarely remember the expensive gifts or fancy dinners out. They remember their parents intentions in giving them the gifts, the sacrifices their parents made in order to be there for them, and the special times that weren’t that important to anyone but the both of you.
Memories are hugely important as a way to build bonds, encourage a lifelong connection and help keep happiness in your household – as well as long after your children move out. Find those opportunities to bond with your child and make those memories. They will go on to live long after the moment.