“They Grow Up So Fast”
“They grow up so fast, enjoy it. Blink and they’ll be 20.” Is there a more annoying thing to tell a new parent? Knee deep in dirty diapers, sleep deprivation, and the constant worry that you’re going to somehow screw up God’s little gift to you… the only thing you want is to catch some solid sleep between now and when that baby is old enough to talk to you about what they want and crap in the toilet all by themselves.
I swear that the phrase, “They grow up so fast” is a weapon.
It’s similar to when your friends with babies learn that your wife is pregnant and they try to convince you that you need to practice changing diapers.
It’s easy to say but a pain to hear.
Then it Sank In
There comes a point, as a parent, when you realize all those well-meaning empty nesters aren’t giving you advice: They are sharing a regret.
They aren’t trying to harass you. They are saying, “Don’t be like me. I didn’t enjoy my kids enough. And now I’m haunted by couldawouldashoulda regrets.”
The Dad I’m Not
11 years in as a day and I’m fairly confident about the dad I’m not. I’m not the patriarchal type… I just don’t have it in me. I’m can’t be strict– I suck at it. I’m not the super spiritual dad, so I’m not going to lead family devotions.
I could go on. Trust me when I say the only “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug I’ll get is the one I buy for myself.
But the point is that to become the dad I am I had to stop pretending to be the dad I’m not.
I had to find something that worked for me.
Making Memories with My Kids
If you want to know the one thing I’m doing well as a dad right now it’s this: Intentionally setting up memorable experiences with my kids.
I “do stuff” well with my kids. My work has me home for long periods of time but also has me on the road for long periods of time. (About 10 weeks of travel scheduled in 2013) So I try to be intentional about creating cool things to do when I’m home.
And I’m fully aware that what I’m doing is making memories. I’m always out for the “Yup, that’s gonna stick” moment.
Types of Experiences
Now, as you think about creating memory making experiences for your own kids you might immediately think of expensive things. It’s easy to remember the really big things our parents did with us. But if you think about it harder there are probably lots and lots of things that were important to you which weren’t big, expensive things. That’s your bread and butter!
So let’s break down what we do so you can see how approachable it really is.
Free or nearly free
- Playing at the park
- Going to a “special park” 15-45 minutes away. You know, one with a cool playground or water feature.
- Running errands together but adding something as a treat. (Like frozen yogurt)
- Pet and animal sitting (Our kids love this!)
- Swinging by Costco just to snag samples.
- Movie night at home. (Red Box/Netflix/Amazon Prime + popcorn)
- Visit nearby monuments, state/county parks, museums, etc. (Being in San Diego means we’ve got TONS of this stuff.)
- People watching at a big event (ComicCon, etc)
- Going to a high school sporting event
- Weekly rituals (Farmers Market)
- Spontaneous game nights (Our Monopoly tournament was a huge hit)
- Beach Day (We go to the beach 15-20 Sunday’s per year.)
- Anything involving a fire pit and marshmallows
- Explore tide pools, streams, anything with water and wildlife
- Special meals at home (Our kids love fondue)
Costs a little ($30 or less)
- Local college sporting events (Season tickets to a local team are under $10 per ticket and send you to lots of games.)
- Zoo/Amusement parks (Season passes make this super cheap spread out over a year.)
- 1-on-1 meals somewhere memorable
- Going to the movie at the theater
- Take a class together
- Half day trips (Orange County, Julian, desert flowers)
Costs more but worth it
- Camping trips (After you have all the gear, camping is pretty cheap)
- Big college game or pro sporting event
- Fishing trips (Paul loves anything involving fishing)
- Staycation (Stay at a nearby hotel with a pool)
- Overnight weekend
- Water park, Disneyland, etc.
- 1-on-1 work trips, tagalong with dad somewhere cool