North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


July 9, 2014

Danielle Cater: Making memories not that hard

NORTH JEFFERSON — Do you spoil your kids? Do you spend enough on them? What really matters when it comes to the well-being of your children? These questions are real doozies and I think the answers vary according to the family.

Ever since God saw fit to make me a mom, I have tried to do special things with my girls. If it was just going to Krispy Kreme once a month or having a water fight in the front yard, it’s always been a big deal to me to make sure I was making memories with them.

There have been times in our past that I was able to do bigger adventures with them such as the time we loaded up with some friends and went to Disney World. The whole time we were there I kept wishing they were a little older so that they could completely understand what an amazing opportunity they were given that week. But as you probably guessed, they were too young to remember and now they just relive it by looking at the pictures and retelling the stories that I’ve told them over the years.

As the years have progressed, so have the adventures we set out on. Whereas a kiddie pool in the front yard would have created hours of play time two years ago, now it would only serve as a 20 minute detour from griping about hunger or lack of fun things to do. But now we can do more advanced things like taking hikes and watching the races by our house.

A few weeks ago we decided, on the spur of the moment, to take the girls on a hike at Rickwood Caverns after church. Now, proper planning would have helped with this outing as we were in dresses and flip flops for the most part, but we were determined to have fun. Not having a clue as to how long this little hike would take, we told the girls we were going on a bear hunt and expected about a 10 minute circle through the park. Nope, it was over a mile long, muddy, slippery, rocky and hot, but I can tell you that we made some memories. We told the girls to look for bears at every opening at the beginning of the trail. By the end of the trail the best thing we could do was tell them that we had to be closer to the end than we were 15 minutes ago. They didn’t enjoy it and I can tell you that momma and daddy had a hard time wearing our smiley faces until the end of the hike, but those were memories made.

We even threaten the girls with it now. “Did you clean your room? Well you had better, or I’m going to make you go on a hike at Rickwood Caverns again!”

But on the other hand, we get some surprising results when we expect the girls to whine and cry instead of showing thankfulness and happiness.

This week at the river I made them some “dirt eaters” (which are small flower pots filled with chocolate pudding topped with Oreo cookie crumbled to look like dirt and gummy worms and a flower poking out the top). I was so happy they turned out so well, but I told my mom that I was just waiting for the first one to whine, “I don’t even like pudding!” It’s not that I expect ungratefulness, but I like to set the bar low so that I may be pleasantly surprised if they don’t throw it on the ground at my feet. Sure enough, they actually liked it. They realized that I had put some effort into it and it actually paid off.

It doesn’t really take a lot of money to make good memories with your kids, it just takes time for the most part. Sure, kids want to go to Disney World, Six Flags and the movies every weekend, but the thing they most want from their parents is their attention and their time. Just pull up at Yogurt Mountain’s parking lot and if their faces light up, then plan to spend some time there watching them munch on the toppings of their yogurt and laugh about their sour faces. Those are the memories that will stick with them forever. Those are the memories that will stick with YOU forever.

You see, spending time with your kids doesn’t just enrich their lives, it touches your life too. When we take the time to invest in our children’s lives, even if it’s just an ice cream break, then we are making advancements for our own future. When a child feels loved and heard and respected then they have the upper hand on life. They start to know their own self-worth and therefore see that they aren’t just the drag on the family or just another responsibility for mom and dad. Oh no, they are the branches of the family tree, they are an important part of the well-being of the family and they bring fullness to the family.

It doesn’t take hours to make new memories with your kids. It doesn’t take lots of money and it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out what your babies need in order to feel loved.

Make some memories with them this week. Carve some time out of your busy schedule to set up an adventure or outing with them. It will not only make the family stronger, but will also give you one more thing to be thankful for that night.

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