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10 Games to Create Long Lasting Memories With Your Kids?

10 Games to Create Long Lasting Memories With Your Kids?

I was probably eight or nine. It was before the age of the Internet and the release of the Nintendo. I had exhausted my regular activities (like riding my bike) and had run out of make-believe scenarios to play out in my backyard. Because my brother and I lived on a main road with few neighbors, we were always in the same boat… bored.

One afternoon, we bugged my mother to play with us. Being that she is an on the spot creative type, she invented a game called “Court.” She made up the rules as she went along. She played the judge and told us each what crime we were being charged with. We had to defend our innocence by pleading our case and in the end, she would determine who was guilty. She told us our “crime” and sent us away with one manila file folder and some loose-leaf paper. We both went to our rooms to plan our defense. Once prepared, we testified.

I will never forget playing that game of “Court” for the first time. I can tell you the room we were in and that it was a beautiful summer day, trees in full bloom. I can tell you the exact chair my mom sat in and where the chair was positioned, even though I haven’t been in that house or seen that furniture for over twenty-five years. My mother didn’t know it at the time, but that day she created one of the few photographic memories I have of her.

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Are you wanting your children to create a long-lasting, visual memory of you? If so, here are ten activities that if done rarely, are a sure proof way to remain picture perfect forever in your child’s mind. I hope you enjoy these activities that will help create a photographic memory for your child.

1. Have a Tea Party

When my two girls and I play Tea Party together, magic happens. I let my nine year old put makeup on herself and my four year old. They both put on their finest dresses. They get a grand opening when they come down the stairs as my husband or I announce them. I am their maître de and always have a towel hanging over one arm. I escort them to a small table equipped with a tablecloth and a lit candle. I begin by offering them water (in shot glasses because otherwise they’d never get used). I offer all sorts of exotic teas even though I only have two kinds. Everything I bring to them comes out on my expensive china, which makes them feel like millionaires. Sometimes I buy tea cookies but usually I just pull something out that I already have, like cheese and crackers. If I can find my bell, I give that to them too. They put linen napkins over their laps and I make their tea extra sweet since they are. We all speak in British accents and I bow to them constantly. Of course, I also take pictures, but more for me because I know their picture will be locked mentally.

2. Court

Looking for a gavel? Pull out your meat pounder. Then pick a crime. Need some case ideas? How about who left out the ice cream? Who stole the cookies out of the cookie jar? Which one of you painted on the wall? Who used all the toilet paper and didn’t replace the roll?

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3. Dance Party USA

This can be done totally on the fly with no preparation necessary. You turn off the TV, get off your computer, blast the radio, and then get your funk on. You do this until you are sweating bullets, can barely breathe, and are afraid you’re going to have a heart attack. Did I mention belting the song out as loud as you can while holding hands and twirling with your oldest? To do this well, you need to pull a muscle and barely be able to walk the next day.

4. Fort Building

There isn’t a week that goes by that my kids aren’t using the couch cushions to build a fort in the family room. However, wouldn’t they love it so much better if I built the fort with them? To make it extra special, try putting a card table in front of a closet and then covering it with a sheet. Assuming there isn’t a swamp of shoes and clothes on the floor, you can set up a mini-city. Spend the night in sleeping bags and watch a movie inside the fort while you all munch on popcorn. Let the fort stay up a few days to let the kids play in it before it gets taken down until the next year.

5. Tent Camping

If I have to explain this then you have bigger problems than trying to create a photographic memory for your kids. You can even pitch a tent in your own backyard for a fun change of pace.

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6. Film a Movie

Sit down with your kids and a notebook. Work together as a family to come up with a plot. Sometimes it’s easiest to pick fairytales that everyone knows so you can spend more time acting and recording, rather than figuring out logistics. This is a great time for dads to come into the picture. They can be in the movie or he can videotape. Think of the fun you will all have watching these movies together thirty years down the road.

7. Create a Photo Album

Decide on a theme such as Selfie Central (where you go around the house or city one day taking as many selfies as you can). There’s also Dress Up Then Mess Up (where your kids put on the tackiest outfits and accessories… and so do you). Another good one? Silly/Ugly faces. Take dozens of pictures, print them out and then store them in an album. You won’t believe how often your children will want to flip through so they can remember that special day.

8. Build a Card Tower or Dominoes Display

See Tent Camping (above).

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9. Read the Same Book, but Only Once a Year

Now it’s time to talk about my dad. Every Christmas Eve, no matter what, he always read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. After a few years of this, it wouldn’t have been Christmas Eve without my dad reading it to us. It’s one of my fondest and clearest memories of my dad and when I think back to it. Now when I bring the memory to to the forefront it makes me feel like daddy’s little girl all over again. Of course, I had to carry this tradition on with my own kids. There’s a certain intangible magic at work with special memories like this. Pass this incredible quality on to your children.

10. Spend the day acting like a kid with your kid(s)

You’ll need to plan ahead for this one. Events might include: water balloon fights, egg toss, participating in their lemonade stand, bike riding, chalk on the driveway, bubbles, board games, swinging with them as high as you can, etc. You do it all: you get messy, you get dirty, and you won’t regret it.

Conclusion

You will find one major commonality between the ten ideas above. Each feeds children the nutrients they need more than anything… your time, love, and undivided attention. It is an opportunity to make your children a center point and prove to them they are the most important thing to you. These traditions extend past the turkey dinner or Easter egg hunt. They are thoughtful, deliberate, and different. They are so cherished and different that there’s no doubt even one activity will create photographic and long lasting memories your child will have of you.

Featured photo credit: Browse more: carousel, fun, funfair, horses, night, traditionalTest Drive image Take a look how this image can be used! Traditional Carousel Horses on a Fun Fair Ride via picjumbo.com

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Published on December 14, 2018

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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