Creating memories instead of gathering stuff

by Brittany Gilbert

Like most parents, I find myself complaining about how much stuff we have in our house. We have several junk drawers with things we haven’t made ourselves throw away, and our kids have a large playroom full of toys that they hardly play with. While we’ve been extremely blessed to receive toys and other presents for our kids’ birthdays and at Christmas, we are also guilty of buying in excess.

I grew up without much, so I have a tendency to get my kids all of the things they are interested in because it makes me feel good to give them things. The problem with this mentality, and we all know it, is that we end up trying to out-do ourselves each year.

With the addition of our third baby, I find myself craving more meaningful experiences with my kids. I want my older kids to have wonderful memories of their childhood, and I want these memories to revolve around experiences and not things. You don’t have to save up a ton of money for that expensive vacation, either. There are simple and practical ways to make memories with your children.

Get outside

Sure, it may take 30 minutes to get everyone ready for a bike ride outside, but it’s so worth it. The fresh air and Vitamin D will be good for everyone in so many ways. This is also one of the least expensive ways to make memories as a family.

You may already be doing this by helping your child practice a skill by playing catch, kicking the soccer ball around or playing basketball together. It’s important to know that memories are also made in the daily routines that we may take for granted. Our kids will know when we sacrificed time away from our computers catching up to be with them, and they will be thankful.

Look to your friends and community

We have so many friends who are way better at this than we are. Their Instagram and other social media pages are full of the adventures they go on as a family. Hikes, fun family games, crafts and local places to visit are among the ideas that you can find if you look around at what your friends are already doing.

Also, find local resources, like the library, chamber of commerce and churches, to see their calendar of events. Our fall calendar was filled up this year because of all of the fun events different businesses and churches had going on. Our family has already made some great memories just by taking advantage of free opportunities in our town.

Start new traditions that revolve around others

It’s amazing how good it feels to help others instead of focusing on ourselves. Christmas is a great time to focus on others by creating an Advent calendar with opportunities to serve. There are many organizations in need of a lot of assistance during the holiday season.

Operation Christmas Child, Dream Center, soup kitchens, Angel Tree and Toys for Tots are just some of the ways to get involved and help those who are in need. If your family is in a position to give more, you might even consider providing Christmas dinner for a family as well as donating gifts.

I can only think of positive outcomes from focusing on creating positive memories as opposed to filling our homes with more things.

When I consider the values that I want my children to have, none of them revolve around toys or anything tangible. However, I do want them to value family, tradition, kindness and serving others. Instead of wanting to give them all of the “things” I didn’t have as a child, I choose to shift my focus to instilling in them the qualities that I believe are important. 


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and a daughter and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].