Creating Epic Family Memories
Creating Epic Family Memories
Many families will be taking off over the next few months for vacations. Parents might be tempted to just drift through these trips (or just survive the stress of travel and near-constant togetherness), but these can be powerful times in the life of a family if we’re intentional about them. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about how to create epic family memories.
1. Decide to Have A Servant Heart
When you plan your camping trip, staycation, cruise, or Disneyland jaunt, remember it’s not for you. This is a unique time for you (dads in particular) to serve your family through planning and coordinating, cooking and cleaning, entertaining the kids, etc. If you’re more tired at the end of your trip than you were when you left, that’s probably a good sign.
2. Set the Tone With Your Attitude
You’re the emotional thermostat for your family. If you complain the whole time about everything that goes wrong on your getaway, everybody will start complaining. But if you’re joyful, grateful, and flexible no matter what happens, that happy attitude will infect everyone.
3. Study Your Family
Especially what your family likes to do. Some people in your family probably think the perfect family getaway is going out and doing stuff 12 hours a day, every day. Others might just want to lay on a beach all day for a week straight. Other people in your family want to stay inside and watch movies all day. So mix it up each day with a different plan that will suit each person’s unique preferences.
4. Be Intentionally Together
Lock your phone away. If you take your kids somewhere really cool, and you’re staring at your phone the whole time, they won’t remember the place at all. They’ll remember how frustrated they were that they couldn’t really share time with you. The most epic memories they’ll have are when they’re sharing an experience with you, everyone going “Hoooohhhh! Can you believe that sunset?”
5. Go for the Experiences, Not the Sights
When we took our family to Asia, we went to one of the most beautiful spots on earth, Halong Bay in Vietnam. We’re talking jaw-dropping scenery. But none of my kids remember the views. They remember taking kayaks out in the bay and almost sinking them. On that trip we took them through palaces, museums, and temples, and they don’t remember any of those, but they do remember how I taught them to drive a motorbike out in the rice paddies. Experiences make memories.
6. Go Places Where you Know People
In Southeast Asia we did a lot of cool stuff, but it’s the people we spent time with that my kids still talk about, church-planters and their families. In Japan, we could have stayed in a hotel the whole time, but we stayed with a missionary family we knew. Our kids quickly made best friends. They remember people a lot longer than they remember places.
7. Make Your Trip God-Centered
Look for ways to connect your experiences to Scripture. If you’ll be climbing a mountain peak? Recite Psalm 125:2 at the top (“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore”) and ask your family how they’ve felt the Lord surrounding them lately. If you’re going to be on a boat? Read a verse like Ephesians 4:13-14 (“Grow into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching”) and ask your family what kind of waves have been blowing them around lately. Kids will remember this kind of living object lesson from Scripture far longer than they remember any Sunday school lesson.
I’m praying for intentional, Christ-centered, memory-making times with our families this summer.