I don’t remember what I got for my 10th birthday, but I do remember my grandma baking me my own miniature cake. She did this with all the grandkids—a big cake for everyone and then your own smaller cake so didn’t have to share.
I also don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year (or the years before), but I do remember being really, really happy. I remember things like going to look at Christmas lights, the smell of apple cider on Christmas Eve, playing for hours outside with my many cousins, and my grandpa scratching my back.
Chances are, you have similar memories, and most probably don’t involve presents at all.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the season and worry far too much about giving gifts and making our kids happy. But at the end of the day, some of the best things we do is slow down and give kids our time. We can go outside with them. We can put down our phones. We can play games, even as they get older and grumble about it.
Here are 15 ideas to slow down and make time for kids this year. While my kids are getting older now and some of these no longer apply, I can’t help but think back to all these little things…and challenge myself to apply it now even though they are older. I hope they give you some ideas, too.
I will go to any park you want and play on every piece of equipment.
It’s easy to play for a few minutes at a time before going back to your phone or book. But kids will remember if you truly take the time to interact and play with them on the playground. When my kids were little, we used to do a park challenge. We’d go to four or five different parks within a few miles of our home, and we’d set the timer for each one. They loved trying to guess what park we’d hit up next, and it was a great adventure.
I will watch with intent and care every single time you say, “Watch this.”
Really stopping and watching is the key here. Back when my kids were little, I would tell them they were in the Olympics, and I was going to judge whatever amazing thing they’d mastered. It was so much fun for them, and there were lots of “Watch this,” opportunities.
I will spend time with you outside even when it’s a crummy day.
There truly is no bad weather; you just have to wear the right clothes. This is a common phrase in Norway, and it’s a good one to apply with kids, too. Outside time is so incredibly good for all of us.
I will watch that movie you love, even though we’ve seen it approximately 246 times.
And I will laugh, smile, and sing along with you.
I will read one of the long books and won’t skip any words or pages.
It might not be my favorite, but I promise to have an open mind when reading it.
I will play your favorite board game, even if it’s Monopoly.
This is a special nod to my teenage son. We have an epic Monopoly battle planned.
I will take you for a really long walk…no shortcuts allowed.
Whether we’re walking to the park or just around the neighborhood, there are so many good adventures that start with a walk.
I will play rock, paper, scissors or Tic, Tac, Toe as many time as you ask.
The mom of any child knows just how challenging it can be to play the same game over and over again. But it’s a great gift to be able to give. They love it every single time.
I will put my phone aside for an entire day.
If you have teens, get them to put their phone aside, too. This is a challenge that will benefit the entire family.
I will play hide and seek with you, even when you’ve clearly run out of hiding spots.
Some of those classic games are the best for making memories.
I will scratch your back or rub your feet, no matter how tired I am or stinky they are.
This is a good activity while relaxing in front of the TV.
I will play catch or basketball with you until you are exhausted.
If you have a really active child, then you know how much of a commitment this can be! Don’t stop until they do!
I will make a fort with you and whisper secrets, complete with great snacks.
Forts are some of the best childhood memories you can make.
I will paint a picture or your nails any color you want.
This activity is mostly about doing something together.
I will listen closely when you tell me something amazing, even if I’ve heard it 10 times before.
These little stories won’t be around forever. Soak them up…every last word.
How will you give back to your kids this year through the gift of time? I’d love to hear you answers.