As an adult, one of the first things you do when reflecting on your past is to look back on your childhood memories and family memories to recall all of the amazing experiences you had growing up. You may also look at these memories, realize how amazing and enriching they were and have a sudden inclination to create the same if not similar memory for your children. Very rarely do you look back and reflect on the items that someone purchased for you, and if you do, you probably realize that most likely that item(s) is no longer in your possession or has since become broken or less interesting than it once was. It certainly does not spark that same sense of nostalgia and love that your cherished childhood memories do. In essence, one of the greatest and yet rewarding experiences of being a father is creating memories with your children.
Creating memories with your children does not have to be a daunting task or one that should make you stressed. Furthermore, the best memories are ones that often don’t cost a single cent! So if you think you can win your kid’s love by spending money, STOP SPENDING MONEY! Your kids more than likely will remember what you spent your money on them nor how much you spent on them. What they will remember is the lasting family memories you create with them and spending money instead of creating lasting memories could even possibly create resentment amongst your children.
The number of opportunities to create memories that last a lifetime is countless, but if you are like many and creativity is hard to come by here are some suggestions to make those childhood memories that will stick with your kids forever:
- Take an interest in their interests: Maybe dolls or cars are not your things, but for your child, it is a huge deal! If not the biggest thing in their life. Take some time to embrace their interests. Have a conversation about why a specific toy is their favorite toy. Just having a conversation about their interests is enough for them to know to look back and think, “yeah my dad was a great dad, he took time to know me and what I was into.” Furthermore, partake in one of those interests. If they like dolls, play dolls (kids get a kick of it when you make their dolls act like a total goof and create havoc in the dollhouse) if it’s cars make the best race track ever. You may even find opportunities to cross your interests with their interests and that is one of the greatest experiences of all!
- Set some one-on-one time aside regularly: Probably the most important vessel in creating memories for your child is setting aside some special one-on-one time for them regularly. Try to do this at least weekly. One-on-one time doesn’t mean awkward silence at a table staring at each other over a plate of cookies and trying to divulge your innermost secrets with each other. It simply means just spending some time together. Perhaps it means playing catch, going for a bike ride, or taking a walk on the beach or around the neighborhood. Doing this often will not only create memories of you being there for your child but oftentimes these opportunities allow for your child to open up and share their innermost secrets with you.
- Teach them a new skill: With anything major you have learned in your life you most likely can look back and recall who taught it to you and you are more than thankful for that person doing so. Taking the time to teach your child a skill like riding a bike or swimming will undoubtedly help in creating memories with you but it also equips them with major life skills. If you aren’t the greatest swimmer, cyclist, or athlete that’s okay. Maybe you can teach them how to paint, fix a car, cook, or do carpentry. With any skill you try to teach, DO NOT play the gender role car. Girls and boys are both capable of doing the same great things. That’s why they both have opposable thumbs.
- Share a hobby: Try to find something you are both into and immerse yourself in it! Having a shared hobby creates a common middle ground that you both can share in. If you have multiple kids this could become a family hobby. A common hobby is great for creating family memories! Looking back on your childhood you could probably recall family camping trips, fishing trips, and holiday traditions; all of these things stem from a shared hobby or interest!
- Document, Document, Document: A picture is worth a thousand words some may say but its price tag in creating family memories is priceless. With the amount of data available on digital cameras and mobile devices, it’s easy to document those memories. But unlike the old days of film where you were allotted a handful of pictures some people become interested in over documenting an experience and miss out on the experience altogether! And when you are out creating memories with your kids, save the social media posts for later. Documenting is great for recalling old memories and jogging the memory but don’t let it ruin your experience with your child by overdoing it! Remember you want to be remembered for being that dad who created awesome memories, not the one that was glued to their phone the whole time!
Creating memories whether it be childhood memories or family memories is one of the greatest gifts a father can receive. Memories should be lasting experiences and play a major role in forging a lasting bond between a father and his children. Lastly, as my father used to say in terms of memories, “it doesn’t matter how much it costs or how much it’s worth as long as you enjoy them.”