My two children are grown but from time to time I see footprints of days gone by. Games we played, conversations, silly things I did, small things from when they were itty bitty spontaneously come up from time to time. Many of the things that you do in play, places you go, stories you tell them; sometimes they seem so small to you but they will leave a lasting impact on their lives and the bond you have with your children.
As I was pondering on the past, thinking of when my children were little, I thought I would make a list of some of the things that have stayed with them. Not a list that I expect anyone to go by but some food for thought for ways that you can instill spontaneous memories in your children and grandchildren. Many are things that I learned from my mother, the queen of entertainment and invention. My mother could make a game out of anything. Mom and I aren’t alike in the way we play, I am silly and my mother is serious. I use words and actions, mom uses just about anything she has around her to make something fun for the kids. We make a great team actually and I’m thankful for all my mom’s help and way cool ideas over the years. Having your parents around to help and nurture your children along with you is such a tremendous blessing! Here are just a few things that I recall.
1. Making Chores a Game – as children get older they need more responsibilities but many times it gets harder to get them to cooperate. This is when I initiated the chore bucket! Many times I would hear from one of my children that their chores were harder than their siblings. I know I’m not fond of chores either, so we made it a little more fun and fair in their eyes. I would write all the chores on scraps of paper, including mine. We would have an equal amount of chores per person, since there were three of us and say twelve jobs that needed done that would mean we each picked four out of the bucket. The pre set rules were that you could trade out a chore with anyone if they agreed, in case it was a chore you just particularly hated but the other guy didn’t mind. For some reason this worked, even for me! Working all together helped too, it was a fun way to get things done and didn’t take very long. All were happy, including me.
2. Study Time – making a set time every day for everyone. The kids would come home from school, have a snack and have some time to “chill” and relax after school. After an hour it was time for all of us to sit down at the table and look over the homework for the day. My philosophy has always been to conquer the hardest first, hit the biggest hurdle and then go after the small stuff. At first my kids didn’t see it my way, but over the years they have been in agreement with me. They’ve seen the benefits of tackling the hard jobs first, everything is downhill after that! Doing the work at the same time every day and doing it together made it easier. The oldest helping out the youngest (especially since she was a lot smarter than me and they were coming out with all that “new” math!) and me giving moral support. (And sometimes coloring Australia or the Indian Ocean!)
3. Story Time – my children loved to be read to, even more than that they loved when I made up stories and used visual aides! We still have a couple hand puppets and stuffed animals that were stars in these stories. I know not everyone has the predisposition to make up stories and have puppet shows. In my house it was one of their favorite times. You only have to have a couple of stories and a couple of characters. My kids wanted the same stories over and over! My daughter had an extremely vivid imagination and when the puppets spoke, even though she could see my mouth moving, she would look directly at them and have conversations. With my son you could not use this tactic; he would constantly be reminding you that it was not the puppet talking but you. We changed it up a little for him and just used the stuffed animals to tell funny stories. We had to get a little more creative and have a lot more action. I fondly recall a cow that had bees biting his posterior! This made my son roll on the floor. Go figure, a boy’s sense of humor. I was up for the challenge! They still remind me of those stories with a glimmer in their eyes. I just love it.
4. Playing Hide and Seek in the House – it was once just a rainy day game but my children wanted to do it almost every night. They wanted me to count so that they could hide; my husband would help my youngest find really cool places to hide. When it took me too long to find them we would start the game of you are “hot” or you are “cold”, this coming from my husband who had seen where they hid. Then they wanted me to hide from them but after a few times of popping out and scaring them and hearing “You go first!”, “No, you go first!”mommy was banned from hiding. Bad mommy.
5. Family Bike Rides – taking along a drink and a snack for when we arrived at the park. The kids loved riding bikes as a family. We would make stops along the way to our destination, like the bayou to look for tadpoles or minnows, to pet a neighbor’s new puppy, meeting friends along the way. Arriving at the park, playing on the equipment or playing tag, having snacks and making our way back home. Such great memories from every trip. Even if you only stay 30 minutes it makes your children so happy.
6. Go Have Lunch with Your Child in the Cafeteria – when your children are in grade school this is a thrill for them, it makes their day. They are so proud of their parents and want to show them off. Now, as they get to middle school this is totally unacceptable, so sad. They do however, appreciate it when you show up for open house and meet all their teachers. This is something that turned into one of those love/hate things as the years went by, with one child that was an overachiever and one that, shall we say, tried his best not to achieve but couldn’t always help it because he was actually so bright. These events, even though your children seem indifferent to them as they get older, do make them feel important and show them how much you care.
7. Camping in the Back Yard – or taking a camping trip to the closest state park. Camping is always bonding, I can’t emphasize that enough. A good camping experience or a not so good, it always brings you together as a family. Let’s face it; you are out in the wilderness, not many comforts of home, walking to the bathroom with the wildlife, what could bring you closer? I recall a trip where I had my teenage daughter riding piggy back because she had left her glasses in the tent and there was a snake on the path to the bathrooms. The rest of the way there and the way back she was on my back. Another time we were taking a hike and there were big webs with huge spiders every so many feet that we had to pass through. There we all were waving sticks in front of us like wild men just trying to get back to the main road. We ended up laughing so hard our sides hurt by the time we got back from both the bathroom trip and the spider incident. It stays as a permanent memory and a great one, like the time we almost set the picnic table on fire at one park…. Hmm.
Whether it’s the local pizza place you go to as a family to play football, playing a computer game together, watching a television show with each other, doing a craft project, baking cookies, or making mud pies in the back yard, all these things are great memories for your children. They are all priceless memories and simple to incorporate if you just make the most of everything you do. They don’t stay little for long; you have to use every opportunity you can. Someone told me once that if you don’t bond with them they will find someone who will and they are usually not the relationships you want them to have. So, my recommendation is, just go have fun!
Kelsey is the editor in chief for findananny. She loves to write article and ideas that parents & nannies would be interested in hearing. She helps society on giving information about nannies through online nanny finder . She is a professional writer & loves writing on any thing.