How to create memories for your children

by Teresa Lundberg

Special to The R-C

Memories are the most precious gift you can give with your child. No doubt they will cherish the grand gestures you have made: the trip to Disney World, their custom-made birthday cake or the front row seats to the circus. You have the photos and video to guarantee they'll never forget those moments.

But we must realize as parents that there are far more cost-effective and less time-consuming ways to make those "remember when" moments. Often it is those small gestures and private instances our children remember so fondly. There are simple ways to forge these types of memories your children will reminisce about for the rest of their lives.

n Start small

Remembering that your child is discovering the world for the first time is a fact you can use to your advantage by making ordinary events extraordinary. Each fall, try planting a few bulbs with your child. Mark the spot, and then wait for them to appear next spring.

Take your child outside in their pajamas to stargaze. Point out a few basic constellations like the Big Dipper or Orion's Belt as you appreciate Mother Nature's beauty together.

Try giving them a special plate or mug to be used only on their birthday. Fortunately, a child doesn't quickly outgrow their ability to value the little things in life.

n Show your silly side

Kids love to be silly. It's a quality they don't often associate with their parents, so they'll be thrilled and surprised when they see you let loose. Simple things like silly string, shaving cream or crazy hats easily amuse toddlers.

Try inventing a silly song by selecting any sing-along tune and making up new lyrics together. Another act of random silliness has the bonus effect of improving picture time by taking a regular shot first of everyone smiling, then a silly shot where everyone makes faces. The portraits are more genuine because the family is enjoying themselves.

n Be spontaneous

Perhaps the only thing more memorable than a routine is breaking it. So remember to shake things up once in a while by breaking the rules and having dinner in the living room or a family pajama party where the kids are allowed to stay up past bed time.

Do things you normally skip, like stopping for ice cream when you're out doing errands, visit the local animal shelter, or take a trip on the merry-go-round when you spot a park. Make up holidays or allow your kids to select dinner for the night.

n Create kids-only spaces

Every child needs time alone to dream and recharge after a hectic day of memory making. Setting aside a private place for your kids is as simple as throwing a blanket over a small table or making a reading nook in a closet. Remember to respect their space and allow them the quiet time they sometimes crave.

Ultimately, you can't control what will make your child giggle or make them shake their head in the years to comes, but you can put your best foot forward to make each day special.

Remember to talk about the good times and look for links in the future to reconnect with the past. Making scrapbooks, putting together photo albums or writing stories in a journal help to celebrate and preserve memories. Bring those happy moments to life, and your child will treasure them for years to come.

n Teresa Lundberg is the Family to Family coordinator at the Family Support Council of Douglas County, 1255 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville, 782-8692.


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