Why is it important to make happy memories with your kids? How can you make happy memories? Why is it valuable to help your kids recall those fond memories?
Stop and have a think. Maybe have a cup of tea or your favourite drink and cast your mind back to the days when you were a kid. Do you remember any special holiday season with happy memories? How did it make you feel now even as an adult? What was it that made you recollect those days with nostalgia?
My father worked 24/7 and the only day he took off was the first day of Chinese New Year. I remember that special day when my father would put on a pair of ‘batu’ (leather) shoes, long pants and freshly ironed short-sleeves shirt.
He would take us out for dinner once a year. The absolute posh place was the roof top open-air restaurant at Katong Park. We would enjoy delicious satay and Coca-Cola.
Now even thinking of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, grateful that I have had some precious memories to cherish with my family.
Making Happy Memories
The Happy Memories Bank pays the highest and life-long dividends to your kids. It will be the most precious legacy you can bestow upon them.
Making happy memories with your children especially during the holiday and festive season creates a loving, solid and secure foundation for them to grow up. You give them a childhood that they can look back to with fondness, and it is that which makes life that much sweeter for all.
Creating and sustaining family traditions that focus on simple, fun, enjoyable and engaging activities will help your children appreciate the beauty of living and the goodness that they are privileged to share. There is no better time to create family traditions than during the holiday and festive seasons.
Take time to leave a legacy of happy memories for your children in small but significant ways. Those times of side-splitting hilarity and fooling around, making mistakes and scoring aces will fill your heart and those of your loved ones with so much energy that it would propel you to the moon.
Happy Memories Bank Ideas
1. Complete a jigsaw puzzle
Ask your children to choose a big jigsaw puzzle and dedicate a table where every day everyone has to work on the puzzle. It is pure joy when each person in the family contributes a little at a time.
Sometimes, we do the simple and obvious pieces and then we wait for someone else to complete the tricky bits. Working collaboratively builds team spirit as well as emphasises the importance of individual contribution.
Once the jigsaw is completed, you can donate the set to another family. Or better still, frame it up as part of the family keepsake.
2. Read a book and have a Q&A
Choose a big book that appeals to all in the family, preferably on general knowledge. It could be a book about animals, aeroplanes or acrobatics. Whatever book takes your fancy, get your kids involved.
The objective is that the parents will set 10 questions and the kids will answer them and the one with the top scores get a special prize and of course the rest will get prizes too for their participation. Trust me, try this. Make your kids work for it and it will be fun.
3. Bake cakes and cookies
Nothing tastes as nice as your home-baked cakes and cookies. Allow the kids to choose their favourite recipes and help them along. Shop with them, bake with them and then let them invite a few friends and family members to a tea party. It gives them agency that they can make others happy too by making delicious cakes and cookies.
Take photos and build up a portfolio of all the different cakes that your children bake over the years. They will make such terrific memories for you and for them.
4. Make a hamper for charity
Pick a charity. It could be an organisation or a family you know, who is going through a hard time. Ask the children to use their savings and buy some special treats for that family.
Buy a basket to fill the goodies and decorate it as creatively as they can. Then make a card and write words of joy to cheer the family. Drive the kids to the organisation or family to personally hand in the special gift. It will teach them the joy of giving.
5. Host a Thank You Party
Allow the children to decide who they would like to thank at the party. Invite the special guests and help each child make a simple thank you card. It does not have to be a fancy party. Just host a simple party of cakes and cookies.
The most important bit is encouraging your children to be thankful and to acknowledge those (adults and children) who have shown them affection and kindness.
How will those happy memories be used by your children in the future?
In starting and depositing into your children’s Happy Memories Bank, you are sharing with them one of the most important joys of living. Having made happy memories, helping your children recall them is equally fruitful.
You can jog your children’s memories with open-ended questions. Use the “who, what, when, why and how” question tags to encourage your child to compose their own interpretations of the happy events. In guiding your children to reminisce, remember to reinforce and praise their contributions in completing the jigsaw puzzle or making the delicious cookies.
Charles Swindoll, an educator and author once said, “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Making happy memories is one important way of creating a lasting sense of belonging and shared identity as a family. It builds security and provides a strong sense of safety.
The Happy Memories Bank is particularly valuable when the children experience personal crises. Recalling the happy times they have shared with their family gives them courage to share their problems with the family to ride the tides out.
Children who are encouraged to reminisce and talk about their happy memories also develop stronger intellectual skills and nurture emotional intelligence. Not only do they learn to use words to recall the events, they also learn to talk about their emotional responses and that of others in the shared activities. It sensitises the children not just to what people do, but how shared activities affect how they and others feel.
Remember that 100% accuracy in recalling the shared activities is not the objective of the recollection. We must realise that there are different personal interpretations of the same events. So do not contradict the children when what they recall does not match with your personal recollections.
Studies have shown that children who make happy memories and then recall them around the dinner table report higher levels of self-esteem and exhibit greater resilience when faced with adversity.
Making and recalling happy memories are some of the best gifts that parents can bestow upon their children. Memories created on special days and festive seasons have an enormous impact on the wellbeing of children.
It does not matter how much money you have in the bank or how many ‘A’s your children have attained in the last exam. What matters most is this: Give your child opportunities to make and recall happy memories.