Your children might remember the new couch you bought – but only because they weren’t allowed to put their feet up on it. And they might remember the expensive new clothes you bought them – but only because they always had to keep them clean. The best memories are often made up simple family moments, when you were together sharing a joke, an activity, a hug.
Here's some inspiration for creating beautiful memories for your children.
Start some family traditions
Kids love having something to look forward to, even if it’s just dessert night! Give them some regular treats that they can anticipate - family movie night; kids make dinner once a week; pancakes for breakfast on Saturday; a family walk or adventure at the weekend. The traditions end up being so much more than the actual event and become about the enjoyment of doing something with your family.
Life can be hectic with a family’s different schedules to accommodate, and just having a meal all together can sometimes be a challenge. But even if it’s just a simple meal of cheese on toast, it would be so worth it. It’s a chance for everybody to sit still in one place for a time: kids and parents both have a captured audience to chat about the day, tell jokes, plan the next meal, family adventure or dog-walking roster.
Tell them they’re special
We don’t play favourites but… it’s perfectly ok to tell your kids that they are your favourite two, five, ten or fifteen year old (although if you have twins or triplets maybe names would work better here!). Your kids deserve to know that they’re your absolute favourite in the whole world, because there’s nobody like them – and that is always going to be true.
Read to them
Everyone loves a story, and cuddling up to mum or dad and listening to a favourite story is a lovely way to escape into a magic world for a while. Kids absorb so many things from being read to: language and vocabulary, themes and ideas that they can relate to or learn from. Even when kids get less cuddly, read to them. Everyone loves a story.
Listen to them
“Just a minute”, “not right now” … sometimes, by the time we’ve made time to listen to what our child has to say, the moment has long passed and they’ve gone. Often kids just want to have your attention and share a moment - not necessarily their words. So stop what you’re doing, get down and look your child in the eye and really listen to what they’re saying. They will remember it.
Have a conversation
Talking with your kids means a huge deal. Ask a few questions, but let your child lead in subject matter. In the car on the way to a swimming lesson or a friend’s house is often the perfect time for a chat about whatever, especially if there’s just two of you. Your child may be tired and drained of all his or her goodwill after school, so try dinnertime to find out what he or she is thinking. And because most kids want to delay sleep for as long as possible, how about making a few minutes before bedtime for a bit of a cuddle and a natter?
Let them help you
Yes, toddler ‘helping’ can sometimes mean more work for you after they’ve ‘finished helping’ but they love it and will bask in the praise they get for being helpful. For older kids it can create a sense of teamwork - a chance to do something for the family with mum or dad. Or to do it themselves and feel independent, and maybe earn a bit of pocket money as well.
Our childrens' lives are made of little moments. Do what you can to make them count!
- Christine Nikiel