Blink and you’ll miss it – that could be said about every season of the year, but it feels especially pertinent in winter. Often, as parents, we wish winter away. The long dark evenings are a drain on our mental resources, plus you have the perils of Christmas and presents to deal with. Many parents look forward to spring when the kids are playing in the garden with their favourite toys, there's less time spend looking after them and more time to relax with a cuppa.
However, don’t overlook winter as an opportunity to make family memories that’ll last a lifetime. This doesn’t just include Christmas, although that can be as big a part of it as you want. No, memories come in all shapes and sizes, and the good ones aren’t something you’ll regret taking time to make. So, here are a few ideas to get you started on making some wonderful memories this winter:
Create a Winter Bucket List
You might already have a family bucket list full of places you want to visit and things you want to do together. A winter bucket list, though, is more specific. If you look at general family bucket lists, there are usually a lot of things on there that won’t be possible in the winter. Even something as simple as visiting a local stately home can be more difficult because they may not necessarily be open. Plus, some obvious ones like playing on the beach at Scarborough are out!
The ideal winter bucket list should contain a variety of things you can do as a family, ranging from the completely free to the ones with a price tag attached. There are plenty of possibilities: bird spotting, ice skating, making wintery drinks together, visiting museums, galleries or even going to a new town to look around. Think of things that are possible in winter and create a bucket list to suit – also, put a date on it so you’ll get them done this winter rather than next year or the year after!
Take a Camera Everywhere
Fortunately, many of us tend to do this anyway via our smartphones, although we might not make good use of the pictures afterwards. Making long-lasting memories is easier when you take a picture to help remind you of the happy time. It grounds you (and the children) back into that moment, recalling all the pleasant feelings experienced at the time.
Of course, taking the pictures is only step one of this – you need to make sure that they’re accessible, so you can view and treasure the memories. Print some of the best ones off or have a digital photo frame active in the home cycling through your best photographs. Making memories is brilliant, just make sure that you take the steps to really remember them at a later date.
Schedule in Bedtime Chats
One of the best ways to imprint something on your memory is to talk about it and pinpoint the pleasurable bits. If you think about your own memories from when you were a child, it’s likely you recall memorable flashes of situations, such as the seagull snatching a doughnut out of your hand on a trip to the seaside or a big staircase in a museum you visited. It’s rare that you remember every aspect of a memory from start to finish, but it doesn’t matter – those flashes are the important bits.
So, take some time before bed after a memory-making day to sit down and talk about what was fun about that day. This maybe as simple as listening to your child talk about his or hers favourite dinosaur toys, talking about what happened at school or creating your own bedtime stories to talk about. Focus on the good aspects, even if something went wrong or someone got upset, and this makes it all the more likely that you and the kids will remember the day in the years ahead.
Go on An Adventure
You might raise your eyebrows at this one, thinking that adventures need to be planned in meticulous detail and who has the energy for that in the winter? However, some of the best adventures are spontaneous. Sure, you’ll need some of the basics like your wallet and warm coats, but the rest is up to you and the kids. Go out in the car and see where the road takes you. Or, if you don’t have a car, grab a bus or train timetable and see what happens. You’ll need to take some precautions, of course. If you’re travelling by car, ensure that you’ve got a sat nav or a map handy to get home. Equally, if you’re on public transport, you don’t want to miss the last train back. Apart from these few preparations, however, you’re free to have an adventure together.
Spontaneous adventures are a great way of making decisions together as a family. The kids will be involved in the decision-making (left or right at the traffic lights) and it could be more rewarding that meticulously planning everything down to the last detail. There’s definitely a place for planning in your winter memory-making activities but leave a little room for spontaneity too.
Make Some New Traditions
Families often have a lot of traditions suited to Christmas and New Year, but few that are based around winter itself. That can make January really drag on, as you’ve used up all your family traditions over Christmas and now the dark nights and cold days just seem boring. So, instead of letting it get you down, put down some memory-making groundwork by setting up some non-Christmas traditions.
Some museums and activity places, for example, close for Christmas but open again in January. Perhaps going to one of those could become a tradition that you look forward to as a family. Or maybe your family will buck the trend and go to one of the seaside resorts during the winter months, either for a day out or a longer stay. It might be cold, but there are always arcades to play in and it might even be more memorable than a summer trip to the same place.
If you can't do this, simply staying at home and getting out the box of craft supplies can be a great way to make new traditions. You can create your very own Christmas decorations, cards or even presents, it's great fun for everyone involved.
Ultimately, your memories are going to be as unique as your family, but the important thing is that you make them now and carrying on making them as the years go by.
How will you and your family be making memories this Christmas? Let us know down below in the comments box...