Sunday, October 26, 2014

Make Time for Traditions

This time of year always reminds me of the memories and traditions I had as a child. As a parent, I now understand how difficult it can be creating and maintaining some of these traditions. 
On Halloween, we scramble around trying to get the perfect costume for our children, rush out of work to meet those trick-or-treating hours, and try to squeeze in dinner along the way.  Seems like more of a hassle than anything else.  With that being said, I never remember Halloween feeling like a hassle when I was a child. I am sure it was for my parents, but they never let that get in the way of our experiences.  I can still remember the stops we made every year and where all of the “good treats” came from.  And looking back, our journey around the countryside was so much more than getting candy.  Packing in a van with pillowcases in hand was something I looked forward to all year. My cousins, siblings, and I shared so many laughs and moments we still treasure and reminisce about.
I have similar memories from holidays in November and December. Regardless of how hectic the holiday season became, my parents made sure every moment was special for my siblings and me. Whether it was dinner with extended family, baking cookies, or watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, these became memories I will always cherish.
I am sure we all have traditions or memories from our childhood that stand out in our mind. Chances are, a lot of them are centered on the holiday season.  This tends to be the time that, regardless of how busy our lives are, we take the time to do special things with the important people in our lives.   
Becoming a parent has really opened my eyes to the importance of making the most of every second. It seems like our children grow up in the blink of an eye.  Our lives are hectic: our children are involved in countless activities, it seems like our houses become cluttered by the second, and every time you turn around, the mess you just cleaned up has reappeared. Personally, I often feel defeated by the stack of papers I have to grade, lessons to prepare for, dishes to clean, laundry to fold, etc., but I have made a personal promise to myself and my children to give them my undivided attention for 15 to 30 minutes every night regardless of how busy our schedules are for the day.
 Setting aside this time with my family to do something from our seasonal activity wall has proved to be a magical experience for all of us.  Whether it is going on a nature walk, baking, painting a picture together, taking a trip to the library, or some other random craft,  I have realized that I don’t have to wait for holidays and special occasions to create memories and traditions with my children that will last.  The dishes, laundry, and madness of daily routines will always be there waiting, but my children will only be young for a short period of time. I don’t want to look back on the memories we shared, wishing I would have spent more time with them. I want them to know right now that they are my number one priority.
If your children are grown, or you are not a parent yourself, this message still applies. Don’t wait to spend time with those people that mean the most to you in your life. Don’t let the opportunity to create memories and traditions slip by. Too often we find ourselves looking back wishing we would have spent more time with children, called our mom more often, or made extra time to listen to our grandparents’ stories. Stress and chaos can hinder our outlook on what is important in the moment. Don’t let the time pass you by before it is too late.
So, as you prepare for Trick-or-Treating, in the madness of the event, think about the traditions and memories you are creating with your child. Enjoy the chaos of the holidays. When your children look back on their childhood, chances are they won’t remember your stress, they will cherish the time you spent with them.