Thursday, March 3, 2011

Making Memories

More and more often in the world you hear of families going on expensive vacations, buying the best toys, offering only the best of everything to their kids, no matter the personal price they must pay.

I strive to offer the best to my child also, but I try to go about it a bit differently. The best is not defined by the price tag in our house. It is defined by the memory made. My son has as much fun at a county fair as he ever would at an expensive theme park. There is no need to buy expensive concert tickets, I can download some songs onto my computer or Ipod and we can dance around for hours.

My son is not quite four yet, so I realize that there will come a time when he begs for the best items, based solely on the price tag and what his friends have. My only hope is that by this time we have been able to instill enough good sense and good morals in him to understand you can not always have everything. As we have all experienced recently, the economy is a fickle beast and there is no reason to go broke buying for your children.

When I was growing up we did not go on huge, expensive vacations. We went to lots of state parks (by the way, Kentucky is beautiful!) and those vacations helped to form me into the person I am today. I love to be outdoors. I am trying to instill that same interest in my child. We go for walks in the neighborhood. If we go to the local park, in addition to the swings and slides, we check out the area too. We look for birds, flowers, and trees. We pick up leaves and acorns to play with. He picks up rocks that he finds on the sidewalks.

I encourage this behavior in my child because it serves several purposes:

1) It teaches him about nature and the cycle of the seasons.
2) It teaches an appreciation for beautiful things.
3) It encourages him to use his imagination and to be creative.

Take some time to sit back and observe your children. Years from now, what do you want your kids to remember about their childhood? Do you want them to remember that one year you took a great trip to the beach or the theme park or wherever? You could not do it again for many years until you paid off that large debt. Or do you want them to remember that his parents always took time to be there for him and sometimes you made some fun little weekend trips to the lake?

If you can afford the extravagant vacations and fancy toys, that is great! If you can not afford them, that is also great! No matter where you are and what you are playing with, the time you spend with your kids is all about creating memories. When your kids speak to you, don't respond blankly while you are really trying to plan what is for dinner. Take the time to listen to your kids and respond thoughtfully. Sometimes let dinner be late while you take 10 minutes to put on some music and dance around the kitchen with your kids. Let the kids help you cook dinner. Do something special on a Saturday morning, it doesn't have to be expensive. We sometimes get up and while he is still in his pajamas we will load into the car and run to the local donut shop. It costs $2-$3 for this but he thinks it is the greatest time.

These are the things you and your kids will remember.

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