Family Vacation Not Happening This Year? That’s OK! [6 Simple Ways to Create a Wealth of Family Memories]
One of the reasons that I started writing Making Life Richer was to push my family out of its comfort zone and make memories together as a family. That can be hard sometimes, because, well, you know, life.
My husband still has to work and the long commute doesn’t go away. The house still needs to be taken care of, the laundry and dishes need washing and we still need to eat (funny how that is!). And of course, my kids still have to go to school and do homework. That can limit time for fun adventures, but that doesn’t mean we stop making life memorable and fun.
The sweetest moments in life can be the ones when we are just living our lives together. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel. I have lived in both England and Germany because of my travel bug. And Disneyland, don’t get me started on my love of Disneyland. That is always the first place that my kids ask to go to, and I am ALWAYS happy to comply! We have had lots of fun doing those big trips. Those were amazing memories. But those aren’t experiences that I can make happen on a daily basis.
So right now I’m focusing on building memories together in our everyday life.
Here are some simple things we can do to help encourage those memories to be made:
#1 – Take pictures
I’m guilty of being so busy living life, that I don’t ever take the time to document it. That is not to say I want to spend my life looking through a camera lens. I am just coming to realize that sometimes taking pictures can be even more fun than just living in the moment.
The kids love to see the pictures of themselves being silly or will get me all gussied up (a.k.a. putting my hair into crazy contortions using a multitude of hair clips and rubber bands) and take pictures of those “beautiful” creations.
Not only can picture-taking be fun, but it helps preserve those moments that we think are pretty cool right now, so that we can remember them in the future. I’m not sure about you, but my kids absolutely love it when we scroll through old pictures of them on the computer. They ask about the funny things they did as a baby or remember a fun trip we went on. When they share their memories about that event, it can also help us to know them more. And that is something I want to do!
#2 – Create traditions
Create traditions as part of the everyday. I’m not talking about special holiday traditions, though those are important as well. I’m talking about traditions and little things we do naturally. For example, playing the how-much-do-I-love-you game. I ask, “Do you know how much I love you?” and then I put my hands an inch apart. “This much??…Noooo…This much???….Noooo. … THIS MUCH!!!!!!” At every “no” I move my hands farther apart till I am stretching my arms out as far apart as I can. Or I even remember being a kid and asking my dad to tuck me in. He would come and literally tuck the blanket in around me, so I could basically only move my head and wiggle my toes. My husband fondly remembers his dad asking him if he wanted “one glug or two” of milk in his cup.
These are the little routines that have become our traditions. My kids always know what is going to happen and they look forward to it. And one day, I hope they will be able to remember these special everyday moments and pass them along to their kids.
#3 – Laugh
One of my favorite things about being a mom is how my children make me laugh (when I’m not using my mom voice, that is!). Kids have the amazing ability to make us want to make a fool of ourselves, just to make them smile. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of laughing together with my family.
I will do all kinds of crazy things (even in public) to make something silly or fun for my little ones. I’m here to show my kids that I love them and that they are special to me. So I’ll make that shopping cart be a crazy car zooming back and forth across the parking lot, just to make them giggle. (Yup, that may have been me you saw in your local Target or grocery store aisles or parking lot vrooming along like a crazy person! Ha ha!)
Those times laughing are especially good memory makers. They already have an emotional high tied with them. Why not encourage more? Make each other laugh. (Not at someone else’s expense of course. We want everyone to have fun, after all!) Remember those silly moments. Recreate them. Laugh about them again. Those are amazing memories!
#4 – Don’t be afraid of a mess
This one is a bit tough for me. I am not a fan of messes. The extra work involved in cleaning them up is not something I enjoy…but it can be worth the extra work.
This summer I focused on allowing the kids to cook with me more. Not only is it good training for them, but seeing as I have wonderful memories from cooking and baking with my mom and grandma when I was a kid, I wanted to help the children create memories doing those same things with me.
My two girls still want to help add ingredients and stir, whereas my son is more into taste testing at the moment. Lol! But having the kids in the kitchen is definitely a mess maker! Their hands, face and clothes usually bear testimony as to what it was we were making. And so does the counter and the ground more often than not. So I try to focus more on the experience than on the mess.
But the kitchen is not the only place kids can be involved (and potentially make a mess!). Maybe there are parts of a DIY project you are working on that they could safely be involved in. Or gardening with the kids is great! Not only do they feel much more invested in the vegetables being grown, but they are more likely to at least try them. And what kid doesn’t like playing in the dirt??? I even remember helping my dad while he worked on his cars. I’d hand him a wrench or a rag, but inevitably my hands would too end up quite greasy. I don’t remember much about the cleanup process, but I remember the time with my dad.
Kids want to be part of their parents’ world. Including them not only fills their little hearts with love, but it gives them memories to last a lifetime. And hopefully they will then choose to nurture their families in the same way.
#5 – Talk about old times
My kids are 5, 7, and 10 years old. The “old times” from their own lives are not really that old, but for them they feel like a lifetime ago. But old times can be about you and other family members as well.
This is where pictures come in handy. Show pictures. Tell stories! Talking about what life was like for you, when you were a kid is often super interesting to the kiddos. And they love hearing those stories like “I walked to school, uphill both ways through 3 feet of snow!” that Grandpa shares (seriously, he said that last week!). They love to hear about when they were babies.
And not everything has to be perfect either. My kids love to hear how I changed their poopy diapers (gross, I know!). Or how they used to scream in their car seat. Or silly things they said as kids. (My son called a fork a “foof”, that one is always good for a laugh!)
Help the kids to get to know you, your family history…their history. You can always do it over cookies and hot chocolate to make it extra special and make a new tradition.
#6 – Engage in the kids activities
This one can be tough. Some of us aren’t big sports fans like our kids. Or aren’t into the video games or Shopkins that the kids want to play with. And that is ok. We don’t always share the same interests that our kids do. What matters is that we are interested in our kids.
I happily “eat” all the food my girls prepare in their play kitchen for a tea party. Or build a puzzle together. My son is big into video games. I don’t know many 10 year olds who aren’t. I don’t really share that interest, though my husband does. But I do try to listen when he is explaining the ins and outs of his game. I have even played Roblox with him. (I’ll admit. It was fun!)
I want him to feel heard when he wants to talk about Roblox because there will come a day that he wants to talk about girls. Or he will want to talk about bigger problems he is facing and I want him to know that I will be attentive and supportive then too.
These everyday memories are just as important as memories of special trips. Memories that we make every day by just being a family are so important. They are how we build good relationships and how we show love to each other. They are the building blocks that make those Disney vacations so magical (well, that and pixie dust!). So take advantage of the everyday moments and make some memories!
Want more ideas to make memories with your family? Click here to get FREE printables of ideas for Fall, Spring and Winter and your own customizable “School Year” Bucket List!