More

Ditch the expensive birthday parties: 6 ways to make real memories for your kids.

There's one main thing kids want us to spend on them, and money isn't it.

Ditch the expensive birthday parties: 6 ways to make real memories for your kids.

Julie is a 33-year-old mom of two living in San Diego. She found herself stressing out about what to do for her 3-year-old's birthday.

Then it hit her: Did she care about lavish birthday parties when she was young? The answer was a resounding no.

"I can't recall any birthday party I had growing up," Julie told Upworthy. "My fondest memories of my childhood came from the little things my parents did with me."


So Julie scrapped her plans for a large birthday party and put on a small family gathering instead. Her daughter still had a blast.

In parenting, it's easy to forget — it's the small things that matter. So how can we create those "small moments" that our kids will treasure?

We talked to parents all over the country and asked them what they do to build these small happy moments with their kids, without the stress. Here are six simple, but cool ways that real parents have found to create fun, lasting memories with their kids:

1. Turn car time into karaoke time!

Even a routine car ride can build great memories. Just ask Alonzo from Massachusetts who looks forward to that time with his 13-year-old daughter.


Alonzo's daughter caught him by surprise with a quick selfie before their daily drive started. Photo from Alozno, used with permission.

"When I pick her up from school, I make a point to listen to her music as we drive around and I even get into it with some singing of my own," he said. "But most importantly it's a time for us to talk openly like daddy-daughter buddies. We both truly enjoy that time together."

2. Take a picture of your child once a week. Then make a 52-photo slideshow (it will blow your kids' minds.)

A dad named Brian shared this, and it's a simple (but brilliant) activity to do for anyone who is expecting to have a baby soon. Just be sure to have your camera ready. Here's how to start:

  1. Pick a day of the week
  2. On that same day, take a picture of your child every week for a year
  3. Label the pictures, "Week 1, Week 2, etc."
  4. Put them all in one folder on your phone or computer

"By the time the child reaches his or her first birthday, there will be 52 photos that you can play on a slideshow for friends and family," Brian said. "Watching the transformations unfold week-to-week during the first year of life in a slideshow format is truly breathtaking."

Here's an adorable example of the subtle transformations our babies can make. GIF via stutterfly29/YouTube.

Of course, parents will take countless photos of our kids throughout the course of their lives, but Brian believes that having photos designated for this particular project is totally worth it.

3. Celebrate even bad weather, with one-on-one time.

Erin, a mom of four boys in Connecticut, believes in spending quality alone time with each of her kids to help create memories. Even if it means getting dirty in the process.

Erin gives her son the green light to get dirty on rainy days, and he loves it. Photo from Erin, used with permission.

"Whenever it rains, I take my 20-month-old outside, strap on rain boots, and stomp in the mud puddles," she said. "That's our way to spend time together and it makes him so happy. Rainy days can create the best memories."

4. Plan a "Daddy Camp-In."

Camping is a lot of fun, but what about camping indoors? Amy, in Georgia, explained how her husband Sam treats their two daughters to a fun adventure they call "Camp-In."

Amy snapped a photo of the end of the daddy-daughter camp-in. Photo from Amy, used with permission.

"Sam will prepare dinner, organize an indoor hike around the house where the kids will see strategically-placed stuffed animals masquerading as wild animals, tell funny stories, and sleep in one of the kids' rooms," Amy said.

"Our daughters love it and they talk about it for days before and after each one."

5. Make a family time capsule for the year.

Seven years ago, Ed in California started a tradition where each family member keeps mementos of special events throughout the year. It could be anything from a photo to a movie ticket stub.

At the end of each year, the family goes through all of it together and it becomes a fun tradition to relive those moments often forgotten about during the hustle and bustle of daily life.

But then they do something else.

Ed's daughter is preparing to bury her family's latest time capsule. Photo from Ed, used with permission.

"We place all of the year's memories into a time capsule and bury it with the agreement that we won't dig it up for 10 years," Ed said. "Since we started this seven years ago, we are due to dig up our first one three years from now. My daughter says we can never move because of the capsules!"

It's a great idea for turning memories into traditions.

6. Start the ritual of "Magical Mornings."

Aimee is the founder of FamilLeague and lives the life of a busy entrepreneur. Even though she's always on the go, she always takes time to curl up in bed with her 5-year-old daughter Athena before each day begins.

"We call it 'Magical Mornings' where we lay in bed and talk about what we're happy and grateful for," Aimee said. "It allows us to be clear in thought and in a good mood before the chaos of the day begins."

The life of an entrepreneur doesn't stop Aimee from enjoying some quiet time with her daughter Athena. Photo from Aimee, used with permission.

The best news? We don't have to break the bank to create amazing memories with our kids. We don't need extravagant parties or expensive gifts.

As a matter of fact, many of the best things we do with our kids don't cost a dime. Because in reality, the main thing our kids want us to spend on them is our time. And that's the way it should be.

Here we are, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people are tired. We're tired of social distancing, wearing masks, the economic uncertainty, the constant debates and denials, all of it.

But no one is more tired than the healthcare workers on the frontline. Those whom we celebrated and hailed as heroes months ago have largely been forgotten as news cycles shift and increased illness and death become "normal." But they're still there. They're still risking themselves to save others. And they've been at it for a long time.

Mary Katherine Backstrom shared her experience as the wife of an ER doctor in Florida, explaining the impact this pandemic is having on the people treating its victims and reminding us that healthcare workers are still showing up, despite all of the obstacles that make their jobs harder.

Keep Reading Show less
Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less

Kids say the darnedest things and, if you're a parent, you know that can make for some embarrassing situations. Every parent has had a moment when their child has said something unintentionally inappropriate to a stranger and they prayed they wouldn't take it the wrong way.

Cassie, the mother of 4-year-old Camryn, had one of the those moments when her child yelled, "Black lives matter" to a Black woman at a Colorado Home Depot.

But the awkward interaction quickly turned sweet when the Black woman, Sherri Gonzales, appreciated the comment and thanked the young girl.

Keep Reading Show less