I don’t know about you but around here summer is quickly approaching. We will be finishing up our final week of school next week and are looking forward to some time away from the textbooks and computers to have fun, make memories, and spend time together as a family.
Speaking of that, be sure to stay tuned at the end of today’s podcast for an important announcement so you are “in the know” this summer!
As far as this coming school year, we have several big changes headed our way—one child will be starting high school courses, one will be entering middle school, and another will be entering her elementary years. It’s hard to believe how the time has flown!
Thus, it has me thinking once again about what our kids will remember most when they leave the nest. I hope they have positive memories of our times together, but even more I want to leave a legacy, a godly legacy, that will last not only through the time of my children but my grandchildren and beyond. I also want my children to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and will continue to be loved no matter what.
If your goals are anything like mine, cherish-able moments and items are priceless. Thus, today we are talking about 5 things you can do that your kids will cherish for the rest of their lives.
5 Things You Can Do Today That Your Children Will Cherish for the Rest of Their Lives
1. Eat Together
When researching statistics for today’s podcast, the number of American families who eat together on a regular basis spanned anywhere between 30 and 50%. As homeschoolers, this one is often easier to accomplish, but there are still activities, co-ops, and work schedules to consider when making this a priority.
Families who eat at least one meal together each day are less likely to engage in risky behavior, less likely to be overweight, have better relationships with their parents and siblings, and perform better academically. What is more, Elgar, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, comments that, “more frequent family dinners related to fewer emotional and behavioral problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviors towards others, and higher life satisfaction.” And isn’t that a big part of what we want for our children?
Currently, my family sits around a large antique tiger oak pedestal dining room table inherited from my grandparents. I love that table, not only for its handy pulley system that make it easy to expand, but for the memories. I remember numerous meals around that table at my grandparents’ house…the mashed potatoes, the homemade noodles, and candied cinnamon apples. I remember conversations and celebrations. Mealtimes around that table are something that I cherish in my mind now decades later as I realize now how special those occasions were.
Even around my parent’s table growing up, we had special times. I still remember the birthday celebrations, the family meals when older siblings came home from college, and eventually meals with new family members as our family expanded. I associate those meals with laughter, good food, and love. Lots of love.
And now I hope to provide my own children with that same feeling of inclusion, love, and connection. As the saying goes, “A family that eats together, stays together.” As we have hopefully learned from government lock-downs—the family unit is not something to be taken for granted. We should do everything we can in our power to strengthen those bonds, and family mealtime is a great place to start.
2. Enjoy vacations and special outings together.
Statistics show that 9 in 10 Americans plan to travel with their children over the next year. Thus, many families consider annual vacations to be an important part of family life and for good reason. If you think back to your childhood, probably some of the most memorable events are those that took place on vacations or special outings. The reason those memories are usually strongest is because those events took place in a specific location at a specific time thereby earning a special place in your brain.
Some of my favorite memories include eating at a fancy restaurant in Washington D.C., feeding the seagulls outside our hotel room on the gulf of Corpus Cristi, Texas, and hiking in the mountains near Glorieta, New Mexico. I also remember encountering a bear while hiking in Yellowstone, sledding with my parents down our neighborhood street, and riding horses at a family reunion. These were events that only happened rarely or at a specific location at a specific time.
According to Money Crashers, one of the major benefits of enjoying vacations together is that taking vacations lowers stress levels. While we know about adult stress levels, we sometimes forget that our kids can get stressed out too. The American Pediatric Association has recently discovered that teen’s stress levels are often higher than those of adults. However, a Travel Association survey found out that 77% of kids reported feeling no stress when parents took a day off every now and then to spend time with them. Talk about amazing findings! So, by taking vacations together, you are not only creating memories, you are helping your family’s long-term well-being.
3. Spend time with them one-on-one.
Kids like to know they are loved individually as well as in the family unit. As such, I know some parents who date their children once a month. They go out to eat, to see a movie, to play putt-golf, or just go for a walk in the park.
That said, date-nights out are not always cost effective. But there are other options. For example, we have opted to do weekly movie nights. Each Sunday night, I get to spend the night watching an age-appropriate movie with one of my daughters. Since there is a wide age span in our family, this allows each child time to watch a movie once a month that is more age appropriate, and it also allows me time to enjoy them one-on-one in a non-teacher role which I really appreciate! We eat supper together, chat a little, and then giggle like schoolgirls as we watch chick flicks and eat popcorn.
In addition, the girls occasionally get to go on ice cream dates with their dad when they have reached a reading goal, so they also get in that one-on-one time with him as well.
As you think of ways to spend some one-on-one time with your kids, don’t worry about making it fancy. If your kids are young, play together outside for 30 minutes a day. If they are older, exercise together, or practice their favorite sport in the backyard. Remember, “actions speak louder than words.” It’s all about making the time more than the what.
I never will forget my daddy cheering me on from the basketball sidelines or riding horses with me after school, or my mom playing games with me on my bedroom floor as I sat with 100 degree temperatures. It’s those special moments I cherish most.
Whatever you choose, be sure to take time to get down on their level and really listen to what they have to say. Look them in the eye as they talk, laugh with them, tell them you love them, and pray for them. All these things show that you really care about what they are saying and how they are feeling. And years later, they will remember your response, and maybe, just maybe do the same with their own kids.
4. Establish a few traditions.
Just as taking a vacation can often trigger some amazing memories because the event only happens once, so too can the establishment of traditions. In our conversation today I’ve already shared one tradition we have—Sunday night popcorn and movie nights. Believe it or not, my parents and I used to have the same tradition, and to this day, one of my favorite memories is watching the black-and-white Dragnet on Nick-at-Night with my dad while my mom warmed up buttered popcorn for us to enjoy after church. It was the only time food was ever allowed in the living room!
Traditions don’t have to be weekly though. Traditions could center around a holiday—like dying Easter eggs, or doing a Christmas countdown, or watching a 4th of July parade. Or it could be seasonally, such as a seasonal craft or activity. Just don’t go overboard. Choose one or two traditions to try and go from there.
That said, don’t be surprised if some traditions just happen. This year, for example, I did not create resurrection rolls on Easter because of a new allergy in our household. My children later informed me that they were so sad that resurrection rolls had not been served at breakfast. I was surprised by their response because I didn’t even know it was a tradition, but I guess it was! So, next year, I’m going to find a new way to make resurrection rolls because it’s something my kids value and consider a family tradition.
5. Create a collection of memories.
I admit it. My memory is not what it used to be, but pictures can do wonders at helping me recall certain memories and events. I may not remember the outfit my firstborn came home in, but when I see the picture of her in her little incubator tied up with tubes, I remember the first time I held her, the song I sang to her, and the emotions that flowed through my mind as I held my little peanut. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
As far as creating a collection of memories, don’t think it has to be a beautiful scrapbook. Now, if that is your gift, great! However, if it’s not, like me, consider creating a photo album using an online service like Shutterfly, or creating Chatbooks from your Instagram pics.
If you like to write or talk, record events in a bullet journal or record yourself reading your children’s favorite picture books or telling stories about yourself when you were younger.
My parents are currently completing a Storyworth memoir for my niece. Each week they are emailed a prompt, and each week they respond. At the end of the year, their answers will be bound in a neat keepsake book. I can’t wait to see it!
My grandfather recorded tape after tape of stories about his childhood that I will not only cherish for a lifetime, but my kids will also have the opportunity to listen to and get to know the man whom I lovingly called “Papaw.”
So think of some way you can collect memories for your children. That way they have something precious to hold on too long after you are gone.