Life moves incredibly fast if you don't take the time to enjoy yourself. You want to savor each moment, and you can't do that if you don't stay active with your family. Consider these tips to make meaningful memories.
1. Keep a Schedule
A schedule will keep everyone focused and satisfied. Without a steady schedule, chaos ensues. Beyond everything being topsy-turvy, each day starts looking like the last. Days can go by the wayside if nothing is planned. Keep a schedule of things, like when to wake up, get ready, eat, take naps and go to bed. Then, you will know what you have time for. Have an idea of the kind of activities you want to do during the day. For instance, you need to limit times for everything, and you want to plan a wide assortment of things to do. For example, plan a scavenger hunt for an outdoor activity, but plan reading a quiet, alone time.
2. Think Outside of the Box
Don't stick to usual activities to have fun. Sometimes, the crazier the idea the more fun kids have with it. For instance, let kids body paint with water colors while they're in a kiddie pool. Create a moat around a castle tent with the same pool, or allow them to take a "shower" outside in their bathing suits with the garden hose if you have suitable privacy. Let kids use wet-erase markers on your light-colored fridge to play tic-tac-toe, practice writing or to give them a "spelling bee". Get involved in their video games, and try to beat each other's scores. Ask your kids for ideas, and plan them out ahead of time. Before long, you'll be making amazing memories they'll never forget.
3. Mix Costly Activities with More Economical Ones
Activities don't have to be over-the-top to be effective. Kids are happy with economical activities too, but that's not all they want to do. Utilize the library. They have books to check out, but they usually have a "story time", a place where they can play, and you can check out movies for free. Have a fun movie night with pizza, popcorn and other treats.
4. Make Activity Coupons
All of your great ideas can quickly be forgotten when you need them most, and it's a good idea to keep activity coupons in one place when you're planning out the week. Mix and match your activities. You can draw them by random, or pair them up according to your needs. If you have kids of multiple ages, you'll need to pair activities up. For instance, while your baby or toddler naps, you'll need quiet activities for other kids to do. This can include coloring, painting, drawing or reading. Allow kids to pick out activity coupons too to encourage the adults to do things they normally don't want to do.
5. Be Equipped
This is a big one. Let's say you want to go to Disneyland, but you don't have the right stroller or baby carrier. It's going to affect your arms, back, legs and feet by the end of the day. If you have the right equipment with you, you'll have a happy baby and toddler too because they need something else to do other than be in your arms. Toddler harnesses work wonders too. With older kids, you need to keep a fanny pack with odds and ends, which can include money, quarters, lip balm or sunblock. Lugging around heavy stuff is not ideal when you're out and about. Make it easy on yourself and on the kids by staying prepared.
6. Have a Backup Plan
You're going to have rainy days, flat tires, late paychecks and times when your toddler won't go for an afternoon nap. Make a simple backup plan for each situation. Backup plans can just be as exciting. For example, when the lights go out, out keep solar or battery-powered lanterns on-hand. Use them for lighting, make some hot chocolate and tell stories. If your toddler won't go down for a nap, put a movie on, and plan for a late night of blankets and PJ's.
At the end of each day, look back and reflect. Some days are going to be better than others, but your family will remember all the amazing possibilities you gave them. Don't forget how blessed you are and what an honor it is to have your family. Make each day count.