A Memory Making Mom

Since we’re just getting to know each other, how about we start with a confession. My turn. Sometimes I get (gasp!) bored playing My Little Ponies. Did I just say that out loud? Now that it’s out there, it’s rather liberating. And it’s true—I can play polly pockets, ponies, cars, puzzles, peek-a-boo, etc. for a good 20 minutes or so, but then my attention span starts to wane a bit.

I’m fully aware of this flaw in myself, and it’s always something I’ve wanted to improve on. So last year I decided to do something about it. I made a goal to be a “Memory Making Mom”.

This goal originally seemed rather daunting, but I was determined to make it work. I’ve learned two tips along the way, so even an easily distracted mom like me can make memories with their kiddos.

1) Use the senses. How many times have you heard a song or caught a smell, and suddenly you were taken to another point in your life? I love baking and my kids have always been big helpers in this department. (Which may have everything to do with licking the spatula at the end.) Since my oldest was 2, she’s been perched on top of the counter, cracking eggs, pouring sugar, and, our favorite, smelling the vanilla. I love the smell of vanilla, so anytime we use it we take a moment to sniff in the aroma, smile, and say a collective “Mmmmm!” before measuring it out. I never thought much of this ritual until a few months ago. I started measuring out the vanilla when my daughter yelled out, “Wait! Mom! WE DIDN’T SMELL IT!” I hadn’t realized it was something special to her.

I’ve always believed there is great power in music, and I try to use that power while making memories. My kids know that any activity--from making dinner to doing chores, requires a soundtrack. Many times I play the same music during certain events. We sing the same songs at bedtime, and my kids listen to the same music as they fall asleep. My hope is, one day they will hear a song and a memory will come with it. They’ll smell vanilla somewhere and their mouths will start hankering after mom’s chocolate chip cookies. There’s a lot of power in the senses.

2) K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Sister. Last month my husband and I took our kids to Disneyland for the first time. An insane amount of planning went into this—hours were spent reading reviews, searching hotels, and packing for the long car ride. My oldest, who is 6, is smack dab in the middle of the “princess fantasy stage”, so we knew she would be walking around with stars in her eyes and a grin that could not be removed. On the way home from our trip we asked her, “What was your favorite part of our vacation?” Her answer? “Swimming with dad in the hot tub!” Mind you, they were there for maybe 30 minutes. I know she loved the other stuff we planned, but that half hour with her dad was her memory.

For Valentine’s Day I decided to do a big Valentine dinner for the family-complete with pink mashed potatoes, heart shaped biscuits, fancy drinks and candlelight. I asked my daughter to help me decorate the table by cutting out hearts from construction paper. She thought it was FABULOUS. She didn’t mention one thing about the dinner I did-but cutting out decorations? She now has plans to cut out shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, eggs for Easter, and flags for the 4th of July. Boom. A memory that simply requires scissors and construction paper.

In each situation, I had planned my heart out, trying to create memories for my kids. But the things that stood out to them the most were the simple moments.

My memory-making goal is a work in progress. But my hope is, the more memories we make, the less guilt I'll feel when I tell my son, “My racecar is taking a nap.”