I recently read a survey asking this question: “What makes your family great?” Among all the different answers, the most common was, “The time we spend together.”
Ladies often come to me complaining that they don’t have enough family time. My answer to them is that there is only one guarantee to having family time: schedule it.
You cannot develop family memories if you are not spending time together! Evaluate your schedule, allow some spontaneous activity every now and then, and delight in the simple joy of being together!
Develop Family Traditions
Family traditions have been very helpful in creating family memories at the Chappell home. These fun times create a sense of unity and belonging, and they bring the family together in a unique way.
We have a lot of traditions. Some are deep-rooted and enduring. For example, we always read Luke 2 on Christmas morning before we open presents. Another example is our traditional stop at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Flagstaff, Arizona, whenever we are returning from the family farm in Colorado.
For years, my husband drove our kids to school in the mornings, and they had a little tradition in the car. They all tried to be the first person to say, “It sure is a beautiful day!” Then they usually ended up singing some silly song along the way. I think the song made them glad that we only live a mile away, but it was tradition nonetheless.
Some traditions flop right out of the gate and quickly become non-traditions—like when we slept out in our backyard in a tent. That was one we’ll never forget! But for some reason, no one wanted to do it again. Don’t be afraid to try something adventurous as a family, even if the final consensus is “let’s not make that a tradition!”
Make Memories by Talking
We make memories by talking, and one of our favorite places to talk is at the dinner table. We have always tried to make dinnertime a happy time, not a time to discuss detentions or negative things. My husband eats pretty fast and typically finishes his meal before the rest of us are even half through. So he usually begins the conversation by saying “Let’s tell a…” He ends the statement with “favorite dinner,” “best vacation,” “most embarrassing moment,” and so on. Each person at the table takes a turn sharing answers. We laugh. We cry. We savor the memories. We love it!
Another good time for talking is at bedtime. What kid wouldn’t rather talk than sleep? When the children were little we used to go to their rooms and tuck them in. Of course, they would always want a story. As they got a little older, we would sit on their beds and just talk. Sometimes the talks were short, other times they were long. Now that they are older, we have a new tradition. They come to our room and say goodnight to us. They all gather around our small queen-size bed and talk for sometimes hours! It doesn’t get any better than that.
Make memories. Video them. Photograph them. Put them into scrapbooks and photo albums. Look at them often. Some of our best family nights take place when we pull out old family photos or videos, and simply spend the night reminiscing!
I read the following quote recently: “My grandmother made me a scrapbook because I was once too young to remember; I am making scrapbooks for my family because one day I may be too old to remember.” Preserve the memories for your children and for yourself! You will be glad you did!