Being a parent is no easy job and it sure doesn’t come with any manual or return policy! It’s our responsibility to ‘provide’ for our kids: feed, protect, nurture and raise them into young adults with their toolbox full to prepare them for life on their own. However, it’s also important to create strong, loving bonds that we all will cherish throughout our lives. In today’s crazy busy world, how does a parent carve out time to make happy memories with their kids and to embrace as much joy as possible? It’s surprisingly easy, so let’s have a look at how to get started:
- Load up on affection
Tell your kids every single day that you love them, and be sure to add in lots of cuddles, hugs, hand holding and praise. While they may not remember a specific activity or event when they get older, they’ll always remember the love and respect they felt. The world can be cruel at times, but their home should be a haven filled with peace, love and happiness.
- Make routines & chores fun
Routines and rules are important for kids of all ages and stages, but it doesn’t mean they have to be serious or stern. Make family meals a time to share and laugh together, even while doing dishes. Bedtime can be enjoyable too with a bath (load up on toys!), books, songs, or whatever else is calming and cozy. As kids get older, add more chores to their list, some of which you can do together. You’ll be surprised not only at how helpful they can be, but how your relationship strengthens in the process. Our son Oaklan particularly loves helping out and confirms this with a huge smile whenever we get him involved. We don’t do our kids any favours by excluding them from household duties and a bit of hard work.
- Get outdoors & get active
Kids today may spend a lot of time in front of screens, but chances are they’d rather be doing something else if a fun opportunity arose. Be the fun they’re looking for! Carve out time every day for fresh air and adventures with them, year-round. Teach them to swim, skate, ride a bike, pitch a tent, dance, throw a frisbee or kick a soccer ball. Don’t know yourself how to do some of these things? Learn together! Not only are these healthy activities that boost us physically, intellectually and socially, you’ll be creating great memories in the process. Kids don’t need more ‘stuff’, they need our time and attention.
- Say yes more
We’d be total disasters as parents if we always said yes…or always said no. We can’t be ‘fun mom’ or ‘fun dad’ all the time or life would be chaos. However, we can’t take things too seriously either; they’ll be grown up and gone in the wink of an eye, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Seize special moments every chance we get. Kids hear the word ‘no’ far too often from the adults in their lives, so surprise them more often with a resounding YES! Let them see just how awesome and cool you are when you aren’t in ‘serious parent’ mode.
- Make a date for fun
Whether you have 5 kids or one, be sure to schedule one-on-one time with each child – regularly. Take turns picking activities, movies, games or outings, but make sure it’s just the two of you and that they’ve got your full attention (no cell phone or work emails). This is something we can do as parents long after the kids are grown, we don’t stop making great memories just because we got older. I think my parents have done a great job of this and I hope to do the same. Our relationships with our grown children will morph into something just as special and endearing, but different too.
When you think back on your own childhood, what happy memories come to mind? Was it an epic road trip, an impromptu food fight, or maybe the blanket fort you made with your mom or dad one rainy day? As parents now, let’s always remember those special moments and work to firmly establish new ones with our own kids. They only get one childhood, and it’s within our power to make it amazing for them!
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” – Abigail Van Buren