How can we be more intentional about doing things together that will strengthen relational bonds and family ties in the future? I know it's important to make good memories, but it's tough to find time for it with so much going on in day-to-day life. Do you have any suggestions or advice?
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 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. But if you 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. 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 favorite 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 mom, 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 elementary school, public profession of faith, 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 Santa Fe Trail. If you're big baseball fans, you might tour the country scouting out all the best-known stadiums. A white-water river-rafting trip is a great way to create new bonds and strengthen family ties. 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 re-creating 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 someday. You'll be very, very glad you did.
Creating Thanksgiving Memories