Your child may think that the best way to make memories is by doing expensive activities; as this is what they see others do on television and social media. However, it does not matter what you do, as long as you plan to do it together, as a family.
The most important rule of memory making is you have to be present and willing to spend QUALITY time together, not just time together.
None of us can remember every single day of our lives, but there will be certain activities, outings and events which stick in our heads that little bit longer. A family with shared memories have something positive they can fall back on when times are not going quite as well. This really helps with FAMILY RESILIENCE.
To build a memorable memory the following helps.
RECORDING THE EVENT in some way
school holidays; these can be a challenge so here are some ideas which worked for us.
Treat the local towns as if you were a tourist.
Check out the smaller places in-between the main centres. Each town usually has a museum, park, town decorations, visitor centre and other gems which you would normally have driven straight past. Add a picnic or lunch out to the trip and you may find you all get more out of it than you thought.
Play those simple games
Traveling on longer trips with children can become tedious very quickly. In this new age of technology the ability to keep the youngsters occupied in the back is much easier; however, being confined in a small place, all together, with eye catching scenery going by, is a perfect time to make memories.
I spy, I went shopping, 20 questions, finish the story, the alphabet game, car cricket...
My husband was playing guess the animal with the girls and their friends on the way to the beach. My youngest was on, and everyone was finding it hard to work out what she was thinking of. It apparently had four legs, but only walked on two, was hairy and had a small tail. When they gave up she let them know she was a chipmunk. When my husband pointed out that chipmunks walk on all four feet, she said “not in the movie they don’t.”
Have a movie marathon
There no longer seems to be a one off movie, each one has at least one spin off, if not several. A whole day of movies takes a certain type of commitment! Set up the living room with popcorn, blankets and pillows to make the whole experience more memorable.
Challenge them to be creative
Provide your child with some challenges and a range of materials, tape and scissors and let them go.
Get out the Lego and give everyone 10 minutes to make their own special form of transport.
If you have a trampoline then see what happens when you add some washing up liquid and water!
“Mess equals memories, equals emotions, equals learning”
The most important thing I learnt about memories is that the ANTICIPATION OF AN ACTIVITY feels as good as actually doing it!
This information made me re-evaluate the whole ‘surprise’ birthday idea.
They learnt this by studying why people gamble. They found that their brains enjoyed the excitement and anticipation of winning, more than actually winning!
Anticipation is built by awareness and this is why your kids will ask for all those expensive activities, because adverts plant seeds into their imagination.
If you want your child to enjoy less expensive activities, talk to your kids and get them involved with the planning. You don’t need to give them all the details, like with Christmas it is good to have some element of unknown to the event, but plant the right seed and it will grow.
When your child is old enough to realise their birthday is coming you may notice them getting excited. They may even start dropping hints around what type of party they would like. If they are anything like my kids they will enjoy picturing and planning the day, using their memories of past events to form the new one. Just a warning here, their idea is likely to change, a number of times, so don't go all out with one until nearer the day.
When they get excited by the build-up, they will have more enjoyment from the activity and even if the day itself falls a little flat they will have had weeks of happy anticipation.
An activity which requires an element of discomfort to achieve, will build the strongest positive memory once attained!
BEING OUTDOORS means more senses are active and things are not as controllable. This is why most people have stronger memories around things they got up to outside the home, than inside it.
Some simple outdoor activities
A family BBQ
Toasting marshmallows over a fire pit
Lying on the lawn and watching the stars
Getting up early to watch the sunrise or staying up late to see the sunset.
A walk in the dark (Older kids enjoy spotlight more than they enjoy hide and seek!)
Camping and tramping
Camping and tramping is not for everyone, but our girls learnt the benefit of persistence, that there was more in them, that short lived hardships could be survived, and that nature has its own beauty, which does not cost anything but time and effort to enjoy.
When you do manage to motivate a tween to get up and go, you realise how young at heart they still are. Remove the stress of having to watch the latest movie or wear the coolest clothes, and you may find your kids rolling around a field in the dark trying to creep up on unsuspecting adults, discovering numerous ways to burn marshmallows, exploring streams and admiring sunsets. Camping always left me feeling stiff and sore from a rough night’s sleep, but the memories were worth it.
Now my kids are teenagers they are happy to admit that though they did not always want to go on our family walks, they remember actually enjoying them.
I look at why RECORDING the event is a great idea in another article.
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