This will be a two part series on “Unforgettable Moments” so make sure and catch part two in just a couple days!
Have you ever had the feeling of regret for missing an important time with your child or just not having enough time to spend with your children? Of course you have and I’ve shared those same emotions too.
The older we get and the older our children get, the quicker those minutes turn to hours, then to days and eventually months and years. Time is one of those rare things that you can never get back once it’s lost. Zig Ziglar stated it right when he said “To a child, ‘love’ is spelled T-I-M-E.”
What if you could zero in on those key moments that your children will never forget? Take for example a particular smell that you remember as a child. It could be the smell of a campfire, the smell of fresh cut grass or maybe freshly baked bread. Even as an adult, when you smell those smells, it brings you down memory lane, doesn’t it?
Those memories have strong associations that you’ll never forget. They’re triggered by multiple senses and that’s maybe why they’re so strong. Today’s message is about creating those positive memories that will shape and nurture your children even into adulthood.
It’s amazing what we can still remember from our childhood, especially if it’s backed by powerful emotions. See below and see which one of these resonates with you.
- Snuggling with them: Maybe you’re not the emotional type or you’re the minimalist when it comes to showing emotion; but I have to tell you that you could be missing some of the sweetest times with kids. Whether you crawl into bed with them while telling them a bedtime story, or just getting under a cozy blanket while watching your favorite movie, these times are especially bonding. I’ve done plenty of the tent and living room overnighters with my kids, but one that stands out that they remember is when I slept with them in the trampoline. It was cold, cramped and to tell you the truth it was miserable for me, but they were sure snuggled up to me all night-so much so that when we all woke up it seemed as though the kids were just dropped on me from above. I’m not sure I would want to do that again, but it meant a lot to them. The moral of the story is to slow down enough to show that physical contact they so desperately need. You don’t need a trampoline (trust me) to go the extra mile in showing them physical affection. For particular kids, this is their love language and it means a lot to embrace, hold and snuggle with them.
- Campfires: My boys and I have had some great conversation around the campfire. Depending on where you live, you can make an inexpensive fire pit, or many fire pits you can buy for under $100. I live in an area where there are fire bans so I just try to maximize the “season” when I am allowed to do it. If I can go up into the mountains and have one with them, that’s even better. You kids will listen to you for hours as long as you bring marshmallow and s’mores. The whole experience is mesmerizing and brings a warmth to the gathering that kids will ask for over and over again. My boys almost always expect to have some type of meaningful, spiritual or life skills coaching during this time and they even ask for it. Watch my short YouTube video Starting a Campfire to see some of the basic tools that I use when planning for a nice camp fire. Below are just a few books that I’ve found to supplement your storytelling and fun around the fire.
- Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell George
- S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet by Helen Foster James
- What Camping Can Teach Us: Life’s Lessons Learned from the Great Outdoors by Willow Creek Press
- When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruurs
- The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book of Campfire Fun by Jane Drake
- Supporting their events: I remember one time that my kids were having their Easter program and my boys were singing in it. I had a long day at work and managed to get one of the worst migraines that I’ve ever had. I told them that I wasn’t feeling well enough to attend and that I’d have to catch the next one. I figured they would understand, but I was wrong. You would’ve thought from their expression that that was the worst thing I could do to them. You guessed it, I felt sorry for them, I sucked it up and went to their play. That was a memory that I didn’t miss even though I so wanted to and looking back, I’m glad I didn’t. My kids were beaming from ear to ear as they saw me in the crowd. It was worth putting up with my migraine to be there.
- Dates with Kids: Having a set time to spend that special time with each child is crucial in developing a deep relationship. This could be going to a baseball game because your child enjoys sports, or picking up some ice cream while you chat about life. These can be formally planned or just picking up junior to tag along with you to the store. I think the important thing here is that you need individual time with each child. Put these times on the calendar and build up the excitement towards the event if you can. Becky Mansfield in her blog Your Modern Family posts How to make each child feel important by “Every month on our child’s ‘birth date’, they get to have ‘their’ night.” I thought that was a great idea and you should check out her post for more. You’ll be amazed at how much your child opens up when they’re away from their siblings.
- Teaching Life Skills: This is a big burden of mine. So many children grow up through life into adulthood not having the skills to compete in the workforce, handle life’s challenges or even cope with the day to day responsibilities that help shape a successful life. Yes your kids will learn some life skills from school, from their mistakes, from their friends and even the jobs that they take, but ultimately, you can give them such a huge start in life if you focus on the crucial skills that they need before leaving the household.
- Bedtime Talks: One of my favorite things to do is to crawl into the bed with each of my kids and just tell them a story, talk about life or answer any questions that they have. In my household, the favorite stories are the ones from my childhood and bible stories. I’ve told them so many stories from my childhood sometimes I can’t remember anymore. I have to tell them ones I’ve already told them. Another good idea is to ask them to ask me questions that they don’t understand about life or God. Those are always interesting and even memorable. Making sense of life either through stories or just talks I believe is such a healthy practice if you’ll just take the time.
- Dinner Time Conversations: Great food and conversation go hand in hand. Whether it’s that special pizza night or just a good home cooked meal, there’s a lot to be remembered from what comes out of dinner time conversations. Try to keep the conversations light as opposed to scolding your kids for what they did or did not do during the day. Talk about your days, what you learned and what was memorable. Although we try to keep the “play” time at a minimum during dinner, we encourage humor and plenty of laughing. If you’re going to establish the dinner table as an important family gathering, you have to keep if fun and enjoyable so your kids will long for it as they get older.
- Holidays: I know holidays can be stressful, especially if you’re planning for a big crowd. Amidst all the chaos and commercialization, don’t forget about the true meaning. If you’re reading the Christmas story about how Christ came to save us, but yet your family is at each other’s throats; you’re kind of defeating the purpose. For our family, we have to plan to have a successful holiday, we can’t just let it happen. We plan our recipes, our message around the meaning, our activities and of course which relative’s house we’ll spend time at. We prep the kids for the stresses that might occur, their attitudes towards relatives and even a grateful spirit for the gifts they’ll receive. Trust me, your kids will remember your holiday times so don’t let them become a war zone, but rather an enjoyable experience.
- Playing with them: Let me guess, when you get home from work, the first thing you’re looking forward to doing is playing robots with your kids, playing hide and seek or playing dress up. No? I’m shocked! Not really, I am in the same boat. You’ve had a stressful, long day at work and you want to just relax and enjoy the night-maybe watch your favorite show. Children ask you to play with them because they enjoy your company, they often find their play time more enjoyable if you’re watching them or engaged with them. On my way home from work, I often change my mindset of working with adults, to now engaging with kids. It’s their world, what’s important to them and the more you can get into that world of theirs, the more impactful you’ll be as a parent.
- Showing them their love language: Now if you’re like me, certain love languages are easier to show than others. For example, I’m a doer and constantly doing something. For me to sit down relax and watch a 3 hour TV program most of the time seems pretty boring to me. I get energized by accomplishing things and matter of fact the word relax is somewhat foreign to me. When my child asks me to sit with him, I’m more apt to give him a piggy back ride around the house as I accomplish my stuff. For him though, that’s not what he’s looking for. He wants me to hold him, read a book, tickle him, or just simply relax while we spend some downtime together. Whatever your child’s love language is, you have to tap into it and make time to express that to him or her individually.
Now that you’re at the halfway point; hopefully you’re already excited about some of the ways to make an impact today! If you don’t know where to get started, just pick one thing that you’re comfortable with and after you’ve tried that one, move on to the next. Ask God to help you choose the right ones.
Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips. If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting. Be sure and check back in a couple days to catch part 2 of the series.