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Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories

Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories

At the centre of my childhood were simple experiences rich with texture and wrought with meaning.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to appreciate the beauty in the simple togetherness my mom wove into the fabric of our family.  Our family didn’t have a lot of money so my mom got creative.  I find myself using many of her ideas with my own children and I enjoy coming up with my own.  Time is the precious gift our children want above all.  Here are some of my favorite memory makers!  I would love to hear about yours.

No Bedtime

I will never forget the night my mom first announced it was a “NO BEDTIME” night.  We simply couldn’t believe it was true.  It felt like Christmas!  She armed us with movies, mattresses on the floor, blankies, snacks, board games, flashlights, and let us overdose on tv, and time together.  We often didn’t even make it though the whole night, but this ritual continued throughout our childhood and it was one night over summer that we looked forward to most.

Last summer we began the tradition with our two little ones (8 & 10).  They had so much fun together and made it until 5:30am!  The greatest delight as a parent is to see camaraderie grow between your children and this definitely fosters bonding.  Our children felt they were breaking all the rules! School isn’t even out yet and they are already asking when “No Bedtime Night” is making a comeback.

I say let your children create a memory that will last much longer than the inconvenience of dealing with tired children the next day. Say bye bye to bedtime and let them play (although an after nap is usually required)!

The Picnic Remixed

My children and I packed a picnic lunch and headed out for a day of adventuring.  Nothing summons a rain storm like me packing a picnic.  With crocodile tears streaming down my son’s cheeks, I needed an alternative stat.  I had the picnic blanket and all the fixings but I needed a dry spot.  Our van was the only nearby option.  Necessity is the mother of all invention, and I quickly folded down the seats and spread out our picnic.  I even earned bonus points because I turned on a movie.  The tears were dried and we all ate in glorious peace; a new tradition was born.  Van picnics are now a “thing” and are often requested.  

My daughter, at 11, is getting too old and too cool for van picnics (most of the time).  The grown up version of this looks like us camping out in front of Starbucks, enjoying their free wifi while sipping away on a half sweet-extra hot-no espresso-coconut milk-caramel macchiato, and watching YouTube videos together. She teaches me how to be cool while I teach her how to kick it old school! 

Budgeting 101

One of my favorite ways to get a glimpse into the little humans our children are growing more into every day, is to let them plan a date for us.  We set a budget and then watch the wheels turn as they come up with their perfect way to spend their money and their time.  

We have done pottery making, lunch out, axe throwing, bike riding, rock climbing, “coffee” dates, swimming, arcade games etc.  Not only does this allow them the freedom to choose, but it also reinforces the responsibility of having to weigh decisions with how much money you have, which is a great skill to practice.  (We have been known to add a little extra to the budget for ice cream after!)

Bikes, Bridges & Bubbles

A family bike ride is always fun, but if you add bubbles and bridges – it’s even better!  Last  summer we took our children and biked across the High Level Bridge in Edmonton and stopped half way to blow bubbles off the bridge deck.  It was so fun to watch the bubbles float off over the bridge deck and into the great wide open.  It was also the perfect spot to take some really nice pictures together.  

We continued across the river and grabbed one of “Edmonton’s Best Cinnamon Buns” at the Sugar Bowl.  There is a park across the street with a rock large enough to have a family picnic on!  A very unique experience.  The kids finished off the afternoon playing in the park. Simple, sweet, family fun.

Midnight Pop & Chip Party

Another memory making idea that harkens back to my own childhood.  I will never forget the night my mom woke me up at 2:30 am for a pop and chip picnic in our living-room! The treats were delightful and the time together even sweeter.

It can be hard to find time to get to all the things that need to be done in the day DONE – let alone give one-on-one time to your children! The midnight hours, however, are usually more open.  I encourage you to set up a picnic in the living room and surprise your child with a snack they love in the middle of the night.  

I didn’t mind being woken up for this special date with my mom, and it definitely created a lifelong, and sugary sweet memory.  Totally worth the loss of sleep I promise – at least for your child!  My mom may not remember the moment as fondly as I do – but 30 years later it still ranks as one of my favorite childhood memories.

Pond Adventuring

My kids love pond creatures. During the summer we can be found armed with a couple of little fish nets, an old ice cream pail, and out by the scummiest water you would never dream of setting foot in! The kids love seeing all the little things they catch and usually have a competition about who can get the first snail, minnow, leech etc.  

Fill up the pail with water from the pond, scoop the net through the pond and gently dump the critters into the bucket water. Pro tip: Cut off a couple inches of a pool noodle and tie it to the handle of the net, in case a net goes swimming in the pond.

My kids beg to do this, and it is such a versatile activity.  Have a half hour? Hit up a near by storm pond or community “lake”.  Have a day? Take a drive out to a lake or National Park.  We particularly enjoy Elk Island Park and the park staff are always happy to help identify things.  They also have the pond kits available, just ask for them at the Visitor Centre.

Feel free to manage expectations (and the number of swimming things that come home with you) with our motto, “Catch, Observe, Release”.  Make it a goal to name 5 things you see.  Feel free to google, to roll up your sleeves and get in there with your kids, and to have a lot of fun! 

 Lunchtime Time Out

Here’s an idea to get you in the summer state of mind.  The final days of school are counting down and I don’t know about you, but my kids are getting whiny…and I don’t feel like packing lunches anymore.  Solution: a solo lunch date.  One of my favorite places to go is Pizza Hut for the all you can eat buffet – and because it’s a special occasion, we eat dessert first!  

I love getting to dream up summer plans, reminisce about the past school year and hear all about who’s fighting with who etc, with my children on these dates. The best part is you get to enjoy a solid hour of one-on-one time. Plus, all their friends get jealous and who doesn’t want to be the “cool mom”!

Ice Cream In A Small Town

This is my girl friend’s idea and one I can’t wait to give a go this summer.  She packs up her children and they drive to a small town just to get an ice cream.  I love this idea!  I love that I can make it fit with the amount of time I have, gas in my tank, I can adjust the distance we go by how well behaved the critters in the car seats are, and we get to see some of the places in our beautiful province.  Also, who doesn’t love a good ice cream?!?! Emma’s Cafe & Convenience in Cold Lake is positively precious and loaded with incredible homemade goodies and ice cream!

Alberta is filled with great little towns, and fantastic ice cream stops and I can’t wait to explore both.  I believe learning is best done with our whole body and what better sense to engage, than taste!

I hope this summer you curate memories with your children that will last a lifetime, just like my momma did for me.  Remember that memory making doesn’t require doing something grande or expensive in order to create magnificent, impactful, memories.   To get additional ideas and to see more stories of our adventures in memory making, check out my blog. I would love to hear what you do to make memories in your family.  I’m always looking for new ideas.  Happy Summer of Memory Making!



Layna Haley is a wife, mom, and full time people lover! She is the founder of the Christian charity, Experience Kaleo, that works to empower women and help them live out their strengths. She is especially fond of Dr. Pepper, fine linen and all things Tiffany blue. Layna is passionate about living with intentionality, making moments count, and women’s role leadership. 

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