As that parenting adage goes, “the days are long but the years are short”. So, as the years race by and your children grow, you want to make some days really count, so you and your children have a treasure chest of fabulous memories to rifle through.
Instead of a vague “wouldn’t it be nice to” or “one day we’ll...”, getting together as a family and writing down a list of everything you want to do together will galvanise you into action. Dreaming big as a family can pull you out of the rut of work-school-weekend-sports-lolling-in-front-of-screens.
Every idea counts
Get together and talk to your kids about the plan. Get them excited and on board with your love list. Explain that the list can include anything: the simple (playing a board game as a family that simply requires putting aside screens); the inexpensive (meeting much-loved family friends for a walk and a picnic) and days out. Don’t be afraid to put big dreams down too like seeing the Northern Lights or going on a safari.
You’ll probably hear old favourites like going bowling together. But you’ll also be surprised by some of the ideas on your children’s list. Kids will love knowing that their ambitions count and it’s not just parents making the decisions. No one’s allowed to jeer or laugh at another’s ideas. You never know, you might get to the moon one day.
You can use these questions as prompts:
What’s your idea of a perfect day out?
What have you always wanted to do?
What do you wish we did more of in our family?
What did you love doing (visiting, eating, seeing) and want to do again?
Make your love list
You can either nominate someone to write down everyone’s ideas as a master list or you can each write your individual lists. Involve your kids with decorations using stickers, coloured pens and their own illustrations.
It may help to set separate themes: what you’d love to do in the holidays; weekend ideas; indoor activities to do together; local places you want to visit; everyone’s perfect holiday. You could also have a long list with a time frame for the more ambitious items: before you turn 40; before your oldest child starts secondary school; before your youngest child leaves primary school.
Now do it
Writing down goals has been shown to improve your chance of achieving them - so you’re half way there. Don’t let your beautiful and imaginative love list end up as a sad reminder of those short years. Together, choose the first adventure on your family love list, dependent on time and economies, and have fun together,
It’s worth taking a letter (or several!) from that that business-speak acronym SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) when you’re planning how to do some of the things on your love list. Instead of simply saying “one day we will go to EuroDisney”, plan “we will go to EuroDisney in August and we can achieve this by setting aside x amount for x months into a savings account”.
Display your family love list somewhere central
Put it above the kitchen table, on the fridge or a cupboard; somewhere where it’s a constant reminder to you all. You can use it to spark family meal talks about what the weekend plan is or what fun it was when you went for pizza or went to the zoo. Keep the excitement simmering and encourage your family to keep planning the next fun-filled adventure.
And remember when things don’t go according to plan, these set-backs can become favourite family stories that bond you together even more.
Capture and keep your love list moments
Remember to take lots of videos and photos. Print a few of your favourite photos and display them around your love list with other memorabilia you collect like postcards, ticket stubs, shells or the score of that epic game of Risk. Children can take turns writing in the date you did an item on your family list, so you can look back and see everything you’d done together.
Enjoy creating wonderful family memories.