Racquetball! What a game. I remember playing with my Dad as a kid and then on up into my teen years. Neither one of us was that good, but we had fun. So when I recently learned of a nearby gym that had a racquetball court, I jumped at it. The deciding factor was not that I’m trying to lose weight or need exercise. The deciding factor was that I want to create memories with my kids. One day, I want them to say, “Racquetball! I love racquetball. I used to play that with my dad.” On Tuesday night, I started creating those memories with my boys.
5 Keys for Creating Great Memories with Your Kids
Let’s face it. No matter what you do, you’re creating memories with your kids. When they are adults, they are going to sit around with each other at family gatherings talking about those memories. What will they talk about? Will they be smiling or frowning? …laughing or crying? …grateful or disappointed? Obviously, not everything can be a good memory. But here are some things I learned on Tuesday for making great memories with my kids.
1. Do something they want to do
Racquetball worked for me as a kid and is working for my boys because we want to do it. I love going to John Maxwell conferences and I’m sure I’ll take my boys one day. But trust me, if I came home tonight telling my kids, “Guess what! We get to go see John Maxwell together! YAAAAAAAAY!” They’ll have a memory, but it won’t be good for me or Maxwell.
2. Remember that they are kids/beginners
I’m sure you can guess that we didn’t have any exciting matches between me and the boys on Tuesday night. I’m not a stellar player by any means, but I’ve been playing off and on for 30 years. This was my boys’ first night. Nothing could have ruined this memory like expecting them to play on the level of the adults I played with last week. We had fun because I let them be beginners.
3. Challenge them to grow
While I remembered that they were beginners this last Tuesday night, I also challenged them to get better. As we continue to play, they will get better. I don’t want to keep treating them like beginners then. I want to challenge them to be able to beat me (which, if you’re reading this boys, won’t happen for a long, long time, if ever). Both boys were excited because they each scored some points. They know they scored those points, I didn’t give it to them. They were challenged and feel good about the time together, looking forward to more later.
4. Encourage them extravagantly
When a baby tries to walk but stumbles and fall, we don’t rebuke him. We encourage him with smiles, cheers, and clapping. Do the same as you create your memory. Sure, there are going to be mistakes, but find the reason you can encourage them and cheer them on. For instance, a common mistake in racquetball is to chase the ball to where it is instead of getting ready for where it will go after it bounces off the walls. I still make that mistake sometimes. On Tuesday, I encouraged my boys to judge where the ball will be instead of chasing it where it is. Of course, this is tough for first-timers, so they often missed when they tried to judge. However, as they broke their habit of chasing the ball, I had something I could encourage them in even when they didn’t get the point.
And now, for the most important key:
5. Do it together
Two of my kids have been to some great camps this summer. Did those make great memories for them? Sure. But they aren’t family memories. Sending your kids to fun places and off with fun people is a good thing to do sometimes. But don’t let all your kid’s memories be with other people. Let them be with you. Find something you can do together and make it a memory.