Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Memories

During a recent conversation my sister asked me what was the best gift I had ever received?  I carefully considered the question, but found myself appreciating the memories surrounding a gift much more than the gift itself.  My favorite gifts are all surrounded by good memories and my favorite people, regardless of the type of gift or the occasion.

As parents and caregivers it is important to remember that memories made are much more precious as children grow into adults than gifts they are given.  The tangible gift may even be forgotten, but the feelings and memories surrounding the event can last a lifetime.  With summer vacation here, it is the perfect opportunity for families to create good memories together that cost very little or are even free, but will leave a lasting impression.  

Some of my favorite memories as a child are now on my bucket list to do when my own kids are old enough.  Here are a few ideas that are free or relatively cheap, but encourage family unity, good memories and developing good character...

1.  Plan a vacation - often planning is just as exciting as actually going.  By including each member of the family in the planning process, it is more likely to be a positive and memorable experience for the whole family.

2.  Weekly family night - schedules fill up so quickly, but it is so important to make family time a priority.  By scheduling a weekly family night that time is already set aside and teaches children that they are important and each member of the family has an important place in the group.

3.  Create a scavenger hunt - whether it is outside, inside, one day, or all summer, a scavenger hunt is a great way to create some friendly competition and can include just the family or be opened up to include friends, neighbors, etc.

4.  Volunteer for a good cause - volunteering is a great way to teach strong character to children and create new interests or passions that can last a lifetime.  Many organizations need volunteers all year long, but can especially benefit from them during busy summer months.

5.  Plan a community day - if you have access to a pool, play ground, or open space of any sort, planning a day for the community to come together can be very exciting to children.  Give each child a responsibility such as creating invitations, helping with the food, organizing games or making decorations.  

6.  Create a family play space - whether it is a nearby park, a fire pit in the backyard or a family room turned indoor camp site, have a space that is used frequently for play.

7.  Use technology - while technology is certainly overused and should be minimized {especially during the summer}, it can be such a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with family and friends who do not live close by.  Video chat is a great way to include special people in all your events and make sure they are a part of those important memories.

8.  Create a family bucket list - this is the perfect time to sit down as a family and create a summer bucket list that everyone can engage in.  Whether you are setting goals, planning trips, choosing books to read or making it a priority to explore your own city, it is memorable to create the list and check things off along the way.

My favorite memories are easy to recall and bring happiness to my heart.  What is your favorite memory that can bring a smile even on the most difficult of days?

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