Being Mindful in Making Memories with Children

Memory and mindfulness has been on my mind this week- mostly, because I have been more mindful of how I cannot remember one night from the next. I have always considered myself to have not so great memory. It has served me okay, for I tend to not remember bad things. My husband and I joke that is why I am such a happy person- I live in somewhat of ignorant bliss with my involuntary selective memory. Recently though, EVERYTHING seems to slip through this brain of mine. I struggle to remember things as simple as what I cooked for dinner the night before or what I even did all day. I have been feeling like a robot mom on autopilot, and my RAM is not functioning.

In my forgetfulness and not so mindful living, I have started to wonder about the state of my son’s mindfulness and what he will remember of all of these things we are doing with him. Of course, a child’s brain is functioning in a whole different zone- some might say a crazy zone, definitely undeveloped zone, maybe a beautiful zone. Anyway, I have been working on becoming more intentional in trying to create meaningful, authentic memories with him. Plus, I have to practice mindfulness in order for me to help him learn to practice it too.

This last week I happened to come across this very topic at one of my favorite blogs I follow, Mind and Love, where Roger wrote a great post Mindfulness: It’s a Word, a Sense, and Feeling. I had to read it a couple of times to grasp mindfulness for myself again. Okay, I read it three times. I happen to know Roger is a very skilled writer, and it bugged me that I could not comprehend this concept. I had to read it that many times to get a sense of the word mindfulness because I have been living that far removed from it- plus, it is a deep idea.

After reading Roger’s post, he and I agreed mindfulness had to be experienced to truly understand it. Sometimes it takes the right frequencies, or the right type of mood of the moment to resonate with us, but we need to be in tune to feel that moment and remember it. Our senses have to be engaged. I will not try to define this concept which is so hard to describe, for Roger does better than I could.

I am happy to say I had an experience this week, an embedded memory now, where I felt mindfulness with all of my being.

It was fishing with my son during a local event in our town. Having baby Grant (who just turned 9 months!!) in our lives, one-on-one time with Abe and me is special. With the baby occupied on the hill with Dad, Abe and I did what fishing can be all about- we bonded over a little foam bobber. As we waited and willed the fish to come, we had only each other in that moment. We made up stories about the love birds (literally, the two geese) we saw across the bend. My son had quiet times focusing on the bobber, and in these delectable moments of quiet, I watched him, and I was filled with love. A flood of memories of my parents taking my sister and I fishing growing up, of course, washed through me. I shared these stories with him.

Everything from the perfect weather, the beautiful peacefulness of the setting, the nostalgia, and the human connection I felt with my son resonated with my heart. It was a perfect night, a perfect song in my mind. And still, I have to wonder. Will Abe remember it?

What Gets Remembered

I am no expert on memory-obviously, but it would make sense to me that these mindful moments and memories have a correlated relationship- the more mindful you are, the more memories you have.

Also, there is the loose “Rule of 7” where it takes 7 times of doing something to remember it. In parenting, the “Rule of 7” could also be associated with consistency, I think. The things that were consistent in life, or a repeated occurrence are established in holistic memories. Sitting down to family dinners comes to mind. I do not quite remember particular dinners, or the food my parents made, but through consistency of making it a family activity, I remember this as what I did. I also think of playing catch in the yard with my sister.

From the repetition of doing these activities, special memories emerge that engage the senses and stand out, like the one time I missed a catch and it hit me square between the eyes. Fishing too is one of the repeated things we did which produced opportunity of special memories. Not only do I remember it as just a thing my family and I did, but there are those precious memories like my sister getting her finger stuck in the real, my dad’s patience as my sister and I cast our lines into the shore, me dropping my pole in the water when I got a bloody nose, and my mom catching a coke can.

I am proceeding forward trying to be more mindful of what it takes to create memories- mindfulness, engaged senses, and repetition.

5 Mindful Memories to Build with Children

1.) Sitting Down to a Family Dinner– I hope this is on the top of the list in value for families. It can be stressful with picky eaters or crabby kids- and parents. The opportunity of conversation and bonding over good food is self-explanatory. We recently have started to try to “bring something to the table” to teach. Abe and I will read about something or intentionally look something up to teach Dad, and Dad is supposed to do the same to teach us. We struggle with consistency, but we hope to make this a regular memory of something we did. My sister has a digital photo frame on during dinner nearby. I always thought this was a great idea too.

2.) Drawing Pictures and Making Stories– Our stories are often a ONE SENTENCE story. We just take the time to draw pictures separately and together, and then make a story for the picture. I hope to make a video of Abe and I doing this. He loves it, and it has helped him working on phonics as we spell words out together. He has even written words for his story. Plus, I have gotten some good ideas of actual books. I have developed one, and hope to blog about the process of really publishing it soon. For us to truly publish a book we developed together would be amazing!

3.) Kicking a Soccor Ball/Playing Catch– Playing catch in the backyard with my sister was huge, and I hope Abe and Grant will have this bonding activity as brothers. Abe is not so great at catching, which we are working on, as the milestones say 3 is about the age. I did find out he loves kicking the ball back and forth. We engage imagination, making up rules, and celebrating our “skills”.

4.) Cuddling at Bedtime/Gratitude– Our bedtime routine takes a while, but I love it for so many reasons. We brush our teeth, change into PJs, watch a YouTube show- usually Ryan’s Toy Review, read three books, say prayers, come up with THREE things we are thankful for, kiss and hug, and hopefully he sleeps:).

5.) Fishing– Of course I want to pass down this legacy of my grandpa and my dad to my boys. I hope many, many stories come out of our future fishing trips as a family.

Thanks for reading! I would appreciate any other comments on childhood memories or what you do to build great family memories these days! I love to hear from you.

9 Comments

  1. Hi Erin! I am no expert on memory either, mine is very bad because of reasons I have written about, which has bothered me more and more lately. I also don’t have a great memory when it comes to my own kids because of my life being so hectic. However, I can take solace in the fact that my children have sooo many memories and remind me of them constantly! It feels great to know that I changed that for them. A huge part of writing this blog is so I can remember and write things down, thus working my memory and it does spark other memories. We have always eaten dinner together, such important family time. I did not know about the Rule of 7 and have to work on that. I am going to make note of your suggestions so I can have these memories with my grandchildren. I am trying to be more mindful of my grandchildren when I am with them and not be on twitter or anything that distracts me from being in the moment with them.
    I love your bedtime routine – hold onto those things and don’t get tired like I did! I miss my little kids.
    If I had to do it again, I would be keeping a journal and writing in it every day – even if it was only a few sentences, but it would be enough to spark all the memories of that day. xoxo Love you, my friend!
    .

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    1. Hey, Sandy! Sorry I am so behind in replying. I actually have been meaning to go back and read why your memory is bad. I still need to do that. Having your kids reminding you of all of the things you did is the next best thing though. It is maybe even more heart-filling that they are sharing back what you gave them!

      I am glad I too am writing my memories down during this stage of life. I am trying not to get tired like you, but I think we are similar in having very unquiet minds. The kids and my mind keep me quite awake.

      Glad to share the Rule of 7 with you. It is pretty loose, but it is something that circulates in a lot of education training I have been to. There are other studies that suggest repetition is needed even more to get it down to memory. Anyway, I think we could all be more mindful definitely. Love you back! I know things are so busy and stressful right now for you. Thanks for taking the time here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Erin! The memories I have of childhood are definitely built from the repetition you mention; catch with dad, family trips to the Sierra Nevada, and Holiday activities. When I meditate and recall mental images of those moments, I definitely delight in the nostalgia that comes over me.

    I never thought to make a connection between mindfulness and memory, but that definitely makes sense. I have definitely felt days blurring together as I get older and my routine becomes less varied. Definitely gives me more to think about. Thank you for sharing.

    Roger

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    1. Your memories sound wonderful. There is something very special about the game of catch.

      You thinking more about the connection between mindfulness and memory has me thinking about it even more too! I am wondering if I have been so unmindful throughout my life that I struggle to have vivid memories like I feel most people have. I have been trying very hard these days to be in the moment, and I hope to see some improvement with this blurry memory of mine.

      Thanks for your timely mindfulness post, Roger. I appreciate you weighing in here as well!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can totally relate to you losing memory of what happens and what you do in a day or a week. Sometimes I would forget what I did yesterday, how did the whole day pass with no single memory in my head about it, I go completely blank, not even a small one like cooking or doing the dishes.
    One extreme example was losing an entire year. I remember I once was talking to old friends form a job I left, and when talking I realized I lost an entire year of memory. I had no idea what happened in that whole year. That was insane!

    One thing I decided to do to be able to hold on to at least the good memories or things I did or get a sense of what I spent my days doing, I started writing in a journal, not my diaries but just bullet points of the things I did today and any good encounters that took place.
    And I intentionally document the good stuff only, because I know I will forget all of it anyway, so when (if) I get back to it, I will only be reminded of the good and productive stuff.

    Unlike you though, I somehow tend to remember memories from my past that are not so pleasant and fail to remember the good ones; my selective memory sometimes works against me. lol

    I never heard of the rule of 7 before, but it does make sense that repeating an action/activity would help you remember it. I love that you are paying this kind of attention to the memories you are building with your son. It does make all the difference, believe me the things children remember from their childhood can either make their personality or break it.

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    1. Oh my! A whole year?! It is amazingly sad how everything runs together. It is hard to distinguish what has happened on a year to year basis. The journal with bullet points is a great idea. I have been meaning to do something like that too. I used to try a journal, but I’d turn it into something that took too much time. For now, blogging has been good for me, but the bullet points would be so much quicker and more thorough with all that happens.

      Ah man. Haha! I guess I need to be thankful for my selective memory of good things. I hope your mind does not dwell too much on the bad. Brains are so mysterious. Why do our minds choose to remember some things and not others. My only answer is mindfulness right now, but our brains must be wired to retain and forget. There is only so much room up there, I guess.

      Yes. Children’s minds are so precious. I hope my children’s memories serve them well. I will try my very best to give them the best. Thanks, Ray!

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  4. Beautiful post!! My parents love taking pictures. My Dad always had a camera in his hand, and he never failed to capture precious moments! I love looking back at those pics and talking abut them with my parents. Some of the moments from the pictures I remember. Some moments I don’t remember because I was too young or I might have simply forgotten, that makes the pics of those moments precious to me. They serve as a reminder of some precious moments I had with my family.

    My mother also liked taking videos of me and my siblings, especially on christmas while we were opening our gifts. We would have to wait for her to setup the camera and sometimes for her to get working batteries! 😂 It used drive me and my siblings crazy! I appreciate it now though, now that we get to look back at them!

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    1. Hey, Charli. Yes, I need to stop and capture the moments both figuratively and literally. Though, I take many pictures, there are so many I miss; most of the time because I use my phone, and I misplace it on a regular basis. Your parents seem absolutely wonderful with their involvement and all of their efforts to capture the togetherness and memories. My parents did too. I am also so thankful to my parents for the albums they put together.

      I think/hope my kids will LATER appreciate me making them wait to open gifts while I try to find my phone/camera. Haha!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😂😂 I can completely relate to you misplacing you’re your cellphone often! I’m sure your children will appreciate the beautiful memories you capture later on and look back at those moments and laugh! 😂

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