HOW TO MAKE GOOD MEMORIES WITHOUT GRUMPY SIDE EFFECTS
Posted by Sarah Anderson
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re on the cusp of all things holiday and fun. The festivals. The fairs. The pumpkin patches. And the promise for more parties and holiday spectaculars just around the corner. It’s the kick off to a magical—if not insane—season, made all the more magical—and insane—with kids.
Not more than a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how magical/insane this time of year is.
Our family had planned and attended so many “fun” things that particular weekend we turned into tired, cranky, sugar-assaulted people of no use to each other or the world.
We wanted to be the fun parents. And to create memories. I wanted us to be able to look fondly back on weekends like this and hear my kids say things like, “Thank you!” “That was awesome!” I didn’t want us to be grumpy and short with each other. But with so much “fun” planned, we started running on less and less, our fuses getting shorter and shorter until it didn’t matter what we were doing. We were too exhausted to enjoy it.
And that’s when it hit me.
When it comes to making memories, my kids are taking note of the emotions that come along with them.
They see a stressed out mom.
A tired dad.
And they are living in sugar strung out bodies.
I’m learning if I want to create good memories that last a lifetime, then I have to do more than just plan for the fun. I have to be at a place to enjoy the fun. And they do too.
What that means for my family is something different than what it means for yours. For ours, it means for us to be at a place to engage fun in a positive and healthy way, sometimes we have to say “NO”. . .
To some birthday parties.
To some festivals.
To some fairs.
To some holiday shanningans.
Not because we are boring and straight-laced parents. But because we are learning ourselves. And we know to get the most out of an experience, we have to bring the most into it. Our best into it.
When my kids remember their childhood. I want them to remember fun experiences. But I also want them to remember happy parents in those experiences.
A mom who is at peace.
A dad who is present.
A family where stressed out wasn’t the norm.
Emotions make great memories. And to have the right kind of emotions, sometimes we have to say no to some things to make room for the emotions we want to last a lifetime.
I want my kids to remember…
Those only come when you give them space.
We are sowing “no’s” now so we can reap the kind of memories we want to have later.
We can’t do it all, which means not every memory can be made. But that’s okay. Because when we push ourselves too hard for too long for the sake of making memories, the only memories our kids make are of tired and grumpy parents who just need to sit down for a minute.
So figure out what matters to you. When we start to pare down our crowded calendar, we’ll start to get a clearer idea of what actually matters—and not just entertains us.
As we are on the brink of a season celebrating gratitude, peace, joy and connection with the people we love, we have the opportunity to dictate whether our calendars will rob us of those very things, or whether we will call the shots.
We can’t do it all. We don’t have to do it all. Don’t be afraid to say “no” this season so you can say “yes” to the sort of memory-making you want to go the distance in your kid’s lives—memories of a fun experience and happy parents.
Because when they get both, everyone wins. And mom and dad won’t need a nap.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries. Read more from Sarah on her blog, www.sarahbanderson.com.
The Happiest Place On Earth
by Sarah Anderson
Not long ago my family took a trip to the happiest place on earth—Disney World. The vacation was a success with minimal meltdowns, uncontrollable giddiness and excitement, bit still a reasonable (enough) amount of sleep. Plus, there was magic.
But it wasn’t just the magic of Mickey and castles, of roller coasters and fairy dust. It was magical for all of those reasons too. But for me, it was magical for totally different reasons.
We are a family who loves and thrives on structure—or at least we are family with a mom who does. I like to know what’s coming and when. I like regular mealtimes and bedtimes. I like naptimes and rest times, and I believe in eating all your vegetables if dessert is going to be an option. This is how our house runs most effectively.
And I am not naive. My preferences are not Disney friendly. Disney throws structure out the door. Bedtimes are very flexible—and sometimes begin in the stroller on the way back to the hotel. Disney has ice cream, cobbler, cookies and pastries at every corner. Broccoli is a little harder to come by. So going into the trip I was a little . . .anxious. Hesitant. This would disrupt my world, and nothing felt very magical about that.
But something happened on the first day. During what would have been naptime back at home, watching my two little boys lose their minds in amusement, silliness and delight while having the time of their lives, after no vegetable consumption, I offered my boys ice cream. They loved it of course. But I loved it too.
Because I was starting to see that at Disney, it was possible to be a different me. And not only was it possible, it was probably a good idea.
I remember not long after we had our first baby, people farther along in parenthood told us about the importance of getting away together as a couple. That we needed time away from our kids, and that, just as important, our kids needed time away from us.
The first evening at Disney, in the middle of a dinner taking place an hour into what would have been my boys’ normal bedtime, surrounded by ice caves, meteor showers, and interactive dinosaurs hovering over my salad and drink, I remembered that conversation with those seasoned parents. I finally understood why this vacation was turning out so much better than I thought it would, and would continue to, if I let it.
I realized that my kids need a vacation from the normal me, and they need a vacation with a different kind of me.
In other words, there are times when our kids need to see us in an alternative light. They need to see us have fun, without worry of our well-structured worlds imploding. They need to see us offer them dessert in the middle of the day for no reason, ignore bedtime with reckless abandon, and spend every waking moment with them for four straight days, because we want to.
For me, it took a trip to Disney to realize sometimes our love of structure kills our capacity for fun. Our love of control kills our appetite for laughter. And fun and laughter will go the distance in the lives of our kids more than structure or control ever will.
For a few days I wasn’t just my boys’ mom. I was someone to have fun with. And fun is every kid’s love language. Fun causes us to forget our responsibilities, to lose our identities and places, and to bond around a shared experience. It allows laughter to be a connecting force, and amusement a language that transcends words to become a tie that binds us.
Fun is every kid’s love language.
We are home now. When my oldest threw up in the car on the way home, it was safe to conclude the magic had ended. But the fun doesn’t have to.
I still love my structure, but it turns out structure seasoned with laughter, the occasional late bedtime and “just because” ice cream is healthier than I ever thought. And that can make home the happiest place on earth.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries.