Making Memories With The Kids

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I've heard a lot about the importance of making positive family memories. The way this idea is phrased - “making memories” - indicates that there's a considerable amount of intentional effort involved. What do I need to do in order to set this process in motion?

Strong families are built on a foundation of love, and love, as you probably know, doesn't simply happen. Love takes work - especially when the details of the day-to-day grind seem to crowd out everything else and leave you short on time and sapped of energy.

“Making memories” is one way to maximise even the humblest effort to create a lasting sense of common identity and shared family heritage among the members of your household.

If you're a parent, there are many simple things you can do to build memories and enhance special occasions with your child. When schedules are jammed with activities, it's easy to lose sight of life's little pleasures. If you just take the time to notice those pleasures, dwell on them and bring them into focus, you'll find that you've already taken a huge step in the direction of cementing meaningful, lifelong relationships with your children.

Below are some ideas that have been successful memory builders for many families:

1) First, give the gift of time. There are a number of ways you can do this.

  • Schedule one-on-one time with each of your children and consider these “dates” as important as any other commitment on your calendar.
  • If you're running errands, take one of the kids along and talk about what she finds interesting - anything from a favourite game or book to a sport or a particularly intriguing subject at school.
  • Make a special occasion out of taking your child to work with you. This can be an important, impacting and extremely effective way of sharing this part of your life with him.

2) Make generous use of pen and paper. Record your thoughts, hopes and dreams for your child in letters and journals.

  • If you're a mum, letters can be written while you are pregnant and then given to your child later in life.
  • Letters can also be written for special occasions, such as a graduation from primary school, special birthday, first day of school or first date.
  • Letters can be written to celebrate a success or to offer consolation after a disappointment.
  • As your kids grow up, letters can be beautiful gifts at occasions such as engagements, weddings, births and special achievements.

3) Put caring notes in your child's lunch box or on her pillow. Find creative ways to tell her how much she means to you.

4) Plan significant family vacations. For instance, if your family loves history, your itinerary could follow the visit to heritage sites in Malacca. If you're big sports fans, you might go for some sports matches together. If you don't have the money or the time to spend on any of these options, you can have a great time setting up a tent and camping out in the backyard.

5) Make holidays unique. You can do this by starting new traditions or recreating old ones.

6) On your child's 13th birthday, take the entire evening to celebrate the transition to adolescence. Consider commemorating the occasion with a meaningful gift.

7) When your son or daughter is ready to leave the nest for college or another destination, write a special letter pronouncing your blessings and conveying your “release”.

Remember, this list is not intended to be exhaustive. It's simply meant to stimulate your own creative juices. You can use these ideas, vary them according to taste, or add some of your own. But whatever you do, don't let the years pass without creating some memorable times that your children will cherish and perhaps pass on to their own kids some day. You'll be very, very glad you did.

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr James Dobson with permission.