Summer is an opportune time to create family memories. Shared fond memories are part of the glue that holds families together. Activities that are likely to stick in memory are ones that are unusual, filled with mystery, involve the senses, or engage emotions.
Formula for creating a memory:
- Choose an activity or tradition to emphasize. This can be a simple activity at home, like making your own ice cream or stargazing at midnight or you may choose a more involved adventure such as a week-long vacation.
- Fill the activity with CARE:
- C - Communication: talk about the activity in advance and afterward.
- A - Affection: share your love and affection with your family members while you engage in the activity. A simple, “I love you” or “I think you’re great!” is enough.
- R - Resilience: Help your kids transition in and out of special events, vacations, and new schedules. Teach them how to be adaptable and to enjoy the new experience.
- E - Enjoy each other: Share positive regard with your family members. Remind them of how much fun they are to be with and be sure to laugh together.
- Tell stories and share memories of the event. Choose an outstanding aspect of the experience to memorialize with a story or to illustrate a value. Tell the story multiple times over the course of the next month. Then repeat the story regularly at family “story telling” nights.
Our three kids remember all sorts of details about a yearly vacation my family takes. We have visited the same place for 19 years. The tradition itself along with the smell and sounds of the familiar place are cherished memories for each of our family members. We talk about this vacation all year long. We go out of our way to fit it into our busy lives (our young adult children still carve time out of their busy lives to attend). It is a source of joy for us as family. We have collected so many memories around this vacation tradition that we can tell stories for hours.
And then there is my own childhood to recall. My dad made milkshakes when I was growing up. And they were the best milkshakes in the whole world. Why were they the best? They were the best because each time he made them my dad declared, “These are the best milkshakes in the whole world.” They became the best for me and for each of my siblings; now his grandchildren proclaim, “Grandpa makes the best milkshakes in the whole world.” That’s an enduring memory. That’s a tradition.
Build memories. Tell your stories. They really will help hold your family together over the years.