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Expert Advice

8 everyday moments to share with your children

Why creating ordinary memories can have the biggest impact on your kids.

As parents it's easy to feel guilt about the busy pace of our lives.
We might be rushing off to work, doing household chore, or preoccupied on our phones all while we juggle parenthood and meeting the needs of our children.
It's no easy gig, that's for sure.
Out of a somewhat guilty conscience you might plan an elaborate family holiday, splurge on a huge birthday party, or go all-out on Christmas presents one year.
But before you let that guilt sink-in any further and start splashing-out on excess, take a second to consider the small moments you do have with your children.
This is important because it turns out those simple moments of making your kids Vegemite toast, or brushing their hair may be the meaningful memories that your children hold dear - not the outlandish ones.
A study conducted by Harvard Business School revealed the pleasure of remembering seemingly ordinary events.
Pairs of romantic partners were asked to list some of the conversations or evenings they had in the week leading up to Valentine's Day. The partners were then asked to rate their memories on a scale from "ordinary" to "extraordinary." They were also asked to rate their Valentine's Day evening on the same scale.
A few months later, they were asked to rate the same experiences again. The participants all found that they were much more interested in recalling the more mundane evenings and conversations together than the special Valentine's Day dinner.
The researchers concluded, "that individuals underestimate the future value of rediscovering today's seemingly mundane experiences."
As parents we often underestimate the mundane aspects of our children's lives and how the simple, day-to-date things can impact on their memories of childhood
Prince William and Duchess Kate enjoying quality time with Prince George and Prince Louis. (@kensingtonroyal/Instagram)

8 Ways to Embrace the Ordinary

Psychologist and author, Dr Susan Newman recommends some simple moments you can share with your children that will create long-lasting memories.
1. Initiate a wake-up routine
Create a special morning ritual for you to share each morning when your kids wake-up. Is it butterfly kisses, and a squeezy-hug? Maybe sing a made-up morning time song, or just sending the dog to jump on your child's bed.
2. Make 'getting dressed' a game
Have a special chair that you call it the "shoe store". This is where you help your kids put on their shoes and tie up their laces, but because it's a 'shop' invite your children in and make a game of it. Dr Newman says, "This will speed up getting ready and they will remember it as going to the 'shoe store.'"
3. Dance
After dinner is finished and before everyone gets stuck into their evening chores, turn on some music and let your hair down together. Dance around the house with your children for a few minutes and watch them smile.
4. Hold a tea party
Do you enjoy a cup of tea? Why not ask your child to join you. They'll feel very 'grown up' to enjoy an adult drink even if it's simply milk in a fancy tea cup.
5. Make family meals fun
Turn the monotony of mealtime into something memorable by giving each night a name. Is it Fish n Chip Friday, or Chicken Tuesday? Dr Newman says, "Naming the meal day tells children what is for dinner and becomes a unique part of growing up in your family."
6. Spend time together
Next time you have to bring in the washing, get dinner underway or wash the car, ask your kids to join you. Enjoy being in each other's company and see what conversation comes.
7. Have a chat
When you're going on a car trip or having dinner create a discussion about a current event that your children would be interested in. They'll appreciate engaging in a 'grown up' chat with you, and might learn some things along the way.
8. Bedtime rituals
Special night-time rituals as your children are getting ready to go to sleep can stay with them for a lifetime. Dr Newman suggests, "Have a quick bedtime ceremony even if it's only a certain way of puffing the pillow or patting your child's head."

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