When I was 6 years old, in the dead of the night, my step-mom tiptoed in my room as to not wake my sisters. She whispered in my ear that she had a surprise for me. I rubbed the sleep away from my eyes and shuffled after her. She scooped me up and placed me in her giant bed so we could watch The Little Mermaid together. Twenty-five years later that is still one of my fondest memories. I can still remember how special I felt, cuddling in my parents' bed watching my favorite movie while my siblings slept. It was a simple moment, but a big one for 6-year-old me.
Before we know it, our little ones are grown and gone. As we rock our newborns, we might as well be rocking in rhythm to the ticking of a clock. Childhood goes too fast. We as parents can and should make our children's time with us memorable. Here are 15 simple activities that will leave a lasting impression on your kids.
1. Midnight movie
Adults get how awesome bedtime is. Kids, not so much. Your child will think it is downright awesome if they get to stay up or wake up past their bedtime.
2. Ditch day
Pick a day to take off work and for your child to skip school, and spend the entire day together. To make it even more memorable, pretend to drive them to school or something equally boring and then surprise them with an activity you know he or she will love.
3. Food fight
It will be messy, but it will be fun! You don't necessarily have to do this inside. Plan an extra messy meal with easy-to-throw food and have an outside dinner or picnic and then let the war begin.
4. Three words: Trampoline. Dish soap. Sprinkler
It's a good time, but with Mom and Dad doing it too, it's an awesome time!
5. Backyard campout
Pitch the tent in the backyard and tell ghost stories well into the night. If possible, sit around the fire pit and make hobo dinners and roast marshmallows.
You might not have the leave from work or the money for a lengthy vacation, but you can still have a mini vacation with the family. Book a night at a hotel close by and let the kids go swimming and eat junk food while watching movies.
Have a sleepover where Mom and/or Dad sleep in THEIR room with them. You are on their turf.
8. Play in the rain
There is nothing better than dancing around and stomping in puddles when you're a kid. The next time the rain starts falling, head on out for some fun. The fact that you are with them makes it extra exciting.
9. Mud fight
Kids love it when mom and dad break the rules in the name of fun.
10. Let them make dinner
With a little help from Mom or Dad, let them decide what to make and how to do it. Encourage creativity while teaching them the ropes. (I should add that it might not be a bad idea to have a backup dinner just in case!)
11. Monthly date
Take each kid on a one-on-one date with Mom and Dad. Do something they love and put all the attention on them once a month or every other. It can be big or small. As long as it's with you, they wont mind.
12. Send a package
Even adults, who bought and paid for something, get excited when they know it's arrived. Imagine being a kid and unexpectedly getting a package with your name on it!
13. King for a day
Offer up the throne and let him/her call the shots for a day (within reason of course)!
14. Bring your child to work day
If you can, take them to work with you one day and let them see what you do. They will love all the attention they get from your co-workers as well.
15. Snowball fight
Assemble a pile of snowballs for each player and surprise your kids with a snowball fight. To make it even more fun, make a snow fort for each team. When you're done, head inside for some hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
It doesn't take a lot to impress kids. You might be surprised by how excited they get when they know Mom and Dad are part of the fun. Don't worry about giving them jaw-dropping experiences. The little things will be just as memorable, if not more. Now is the time to make simple memories our kids will carry with them well into adulthood.