Lighten Up And Create Memories In The Process

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Even Happier QuestI’ve been happily singing along in the mornings and worked hard last week to acknowledge The Kid’s feelings. Case in point. I picked her up from a band concert on Saturday and she got upset when she realized we weren’t going directly home. We were going grocery shopping instead. She was in her uniform and hot. I just wanted to get errands done.

I was immediately faced with complaints and attitude but the new me ignored this instead of reacting. I said that I knew she was hot and hungry but I would make sure to shop as fast as I could to get it over with. We would have the rest of the afternoon to do whatever we wanted. By the time we got there, the attitude was gone and we had a fun time.

She even split the list with me and helped the trip go faster. That definitely wouldn’t have happened if I’d responded in my usual way and told her to cut it out and suck it up. I’d call this task a success. The next item to work on to Lighten Up is one that’s especially important to me and I think I’ve done a good job of this already.

Create a Treasure House of Happy Memories. I’m not sure that I would put it in those words exactly because I don’t talk like that. I don’t think I’ve ever uttered the phrase “treasure house” unless maybe I was referring to a ride at Disney. The point is though that we should work hard to create happy memories. Happy memories tend to lead to happy adults.

I have lots of memories growing up. Easter was usually at my Great Grandmother’s house in the country. Thanksgiving my aunt, uncle and cousins flew in and we celebrated at my Grandmothers. As a single mom without any local family, it’s important to me to establish traditions that The Kid can fondly look back on years from now. We may not be your typical family but we can still have traditions that we carry on and some we start from scratch.

My hope is that she has fun with each tradition and looks back on them with a smile on her face. Maybe she’ll continue some of these with her family some day but at the very least I want them to be happy memories of growing up with me.

When she was born, I started Friday Night Dinner. Every Friday we eat out at a restaurant of our her choice. It’s something to look forward to and gives us a chance to try a place that we wouldn’t pick just any old day. We’ve only missed a couple Friday Night Dinners in the past 13 years. (Shhh, it’s been her planning sleepovers. I’ve not missed any.)

We reserve Spring Break for road trips and other adventures. One year we did the International Tour of Texas which included Dublin, Paris, Rhome, and Palestine. It’s rather like vacationing with the Griswalds but we’ve seen the world’s largest rocking chair, smallest national park and other oddball attractions.

New Years Eve is a food fest at the Quest Household. I usually get off work early that day, we head to the grocery store and buy a random mish mash of food we want to eat. There are no rules and it doesn’t matter if something goes with something else or not. We’ve ended up with the strangest combination of things – macaroni and cheese, lemonade, sushi, chips and dip, ice cream. We come home and spend the evening watching rented movies and eating our smorgasbord as the ball drops.

I also try just about any Groupon I can that I think we’ll enjoy doing and haven’t done before. Some of the happiness comes from learning something new. Even if we screw up, I can recall the laughs we’ve had trying. We’ve gone zip lining, taken a pottery class, learned to knit, tried bubble tea, learned to rope and ride. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Studies have shown that traditions and stability helps to create happiness, and happy memories contribute to happy people. Hopefully I’ve created a bunch of memories to carry The Kid through life. I know I’ll remember these years for the rest of mine.

What are some traditions that you have in your family? What’s one of your favorite childhood memories?

PS – As research for this post, I asked The Kid what her favorite happy memory was so far. She said it was watching me jump of the plane on my skydive. She said it was exciting to watch me do it.

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