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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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