This weekend, I was having a lovely cuddle with my baby boy. But then I found myself thinking, “Gosh, I’m not going to remember you like this.”
The thought sprung up from nowhere and it was a real shock. I actually got a little upset because I realised that my thought was true.
The thing is, because we see our children just about every day we grow with them. This means we don’t tend to notice the gradual changes that happen over time. I look at my seven-year-old and it’s hard to imagine her as a teeny, tiny baby. Sure I have the photos and the videos, but it’s not the same as the real thing.
It’s why creating special memories of your kids is so important – and why you should also ensure your kids have special memories of you.
Let me explain
Childhood is such a special time
As a child, do you have special memories of times you spent with your parents?
Funnily, it’s the little things that seem to stick. For example, I can vividly remember my mum making my brother and I jam sandwiches when we got home from school. I remember visits to the scrap paper shop at weekends to choose stuff for arts and crafts, and I can still hear my dad screaming at me to “keep pedaling” as he towed me up the dreaded Bickleigh Hill at the end of our regular family bike ride!
As kids, we didn’t always have the latest toy or the most expensive holiday, but we did have quality time with our parents. And looking back, that’s what I remember most from my childhood.
I believe this is the reason why children spell love as T-I-M-E.
And it’s why Antony Douglas Williams said:
“Spending time with children is more important than spending money on children.”
But let’s be honest, this goal isn’t always easy to achieve – especially during the summer holidays!
Give memories, not money
As a mum, I’m sure you greet the six-week break with mixed feelings. On the one hand it’s great to have your children around, but on the other you can feel a lot of pressure to keep your kids occupied so they don’t tell you “I’m bored!”
Children crave and need the attention of their parents – but it’s not always easy to meet their needs.
It’s tricky to juggling all the usual day-to-day chores, plus work, plus the kids! In turn, it’s all too easy to switch on the TV, plonk on a DVD, hand over the iPad or buy a present (or two). Even worse, in this connected, digital age, Smartphones and apps can be so distracting – and children can find themselves competing with Facebook, Twitter or phone calls.
But do we really want our kids’ earliest memories to be of a half present parent who’s forever tippy-tapping on their phone or computer?
Make more time
I admit that I really struggle with the whole work-life balance thing. I love my job and find it very easy to lose a day writing. As a result, I have to be more focused to ensure my children get the quality time with me that they need.
So to help me create memories this summer, here are some tactics that I’m trying.
- Plan ahead
Try booking days out in your diary for “mum time”. If you’ve got children of different ages, this can work really well to ensure that different children get one on one time with you over the summer. Chat with your child to figure out what they’d like to do, decide how you’re going to do it, and then mark it on your diary or calendar so that it becomes a fixed appointment. This will give you both something to look forward to and ensure that quality time is had.
- Incorporate daily, uninterrupted “child time” into your day
Even if the kids are around there will be stuff that needs to be done. Perhaps you have some client calls to make, the washing to do, or some errands to run. You don’t need to stop these things, instead, weave some quality time into your day. This could be something as simple as preparing lunch together, doing some arts and crafts together, or going for a walk.
- Encourage your kids to get involved with the day-to-day stuff
What day-to-day stuff can you do with your kids? Perhaps you could set up a reward system so your children can earn pocket money. And if there are more hands working on a task, the job is going to get finished that much quicker.
- Just talk – without the distractions
Turn off the TV, switch off your phone and move away from the computer and just be together. Play the games that your children like to play, read their favourite book and get involved in their world. Remember what it was like to be a kid – and make your child the focus of your universe.
Make this summer extra special – for your kids
It was David O. McKay who said that, “No amount of success can compensate for failure in the home.”
I think he’s right…
At my calculation, I reckon I’ve only got another ten summers with my eldest daughter before she becomes an adult and wants to do her own thing. Life is so short and the time when your children are little is even shorter.
Therefore, I’ve decided to create more memories with my children this summer and ensure 2014 is a holiday to remember. Are you in? If so, please share your memory-making suggestions in the comments below and let’s inspire each other with ideas to create lots of quality time with our little ones.