[Birth onwards] A child’s memory starts from birth however, at this time, the brain can only take in sensations. These might be sounds, smells, touch or even movement. Gradually, as a child’s brain develops and starts to think in ‘language’, it becomes easier for your baby to have and remember ‘memories’!
I have so many good memories from my childhood, even the sensations like super-cold milk at kindy and stinky sewerage smell in Spain. Going with the notion, ‘use it or lose it’, I am always encouraging Master 3 and Master 1 to remember good times! Otherwise, the many wonderful moments can be lost to ‘pruning’ (where the brain literally lets go of neural pathways that are not used) and filled with episodes of Peppa Pig or hours sitting at the dinner table!
At this point, Master 3 can easily remember the day Master 1 was born and the highlights of a trip to Seaworld and the day Granny came and we made a special balloon for her. Be it a big or small memory, the more you talk about them and remember them, the more your child will build up a ‘bank’ of special memories.
How do we remember?
If there is anything that reminds us of a good memory, we stop and have a talk about it. Whether it’s:
- playing with a toy icecream ‘you had a strawberry icecream like that at Seaworld didn’t you?’
- reading a Spot book ‘that’s like the balloon we made Granny for her birthday’
- talking about when Master 1 came along ‘how did you feel when you first saw him?’
- remembering special people, particularly those we don’t see often
It might seem unnecessary but talking about an event helps make it a conscious memory. Kids love to remember!
I have made ‘memory’ books for Master 3. This involves remembering to have your camera out at special times then later printing a mini-book with a photo to each page. It might be about a particular holiday or even just the Christmas holiday period or a birthday.
We also spend a lot of time just sitting with my phone and looking back at the photos and videos. We talk about what life was like back then – ‘look we were at a different house’, ‘look how Master 1 has grown’, ‘wow look at your hair’ and have a good laugh at many memories!
Master 3 was quite attached to a goose at the park we visit. But one day it died and the people that took care of it left a little photo and message at the park. So we have had a brief talk about death and explained that what we have left is the memories. Each time we go there, we remember something about the goose and again consolidate the memories in Master 3’s brain.
I mostly enjoy creating memories by breaking up the routine. If we lived our life the same way every day, getting caught in the routine of everyday life, we wouldn’t have much to remember but a blur! So I break the routines up by doing something ‘memorable’ here and there, such as:
- dancing while waiting for them to finish eating, instead of just standing there. They laugh!
- letting them go outside and play in the rain
- tango-ing Master 1 to the change table instead of just picking him up
- getting the boys to ‘reach for the moon…’ to dry under their arms after a bath. Strange but they love it and I’m sure they won’t forget it easily
This is a good opportunity to remind you, as a parent to have FUN in your day. See Outrageous is the key word! for more information on why and how you should make sure you find fun everyday!
But sometimes, the routines ARE the memories, such as:
- the daily push on the swingset with Daddy
- making up a ridiculous song that includes the boys’ names whilst they are eating
- helping Mummy pick her yoga poses whilst they are in the bath (yes my way to fill in the time!)
- our BBQ breakfast at the beach each weekend in summer
I also encourage Master 3 AND Master 1 to take in sensations like:
- playing music (nursery rhymes to classical to Brazilian) and commenting on it to help their brain take ‘conscious’ notice of it
- stopping to look at details of things like the feel of the leaves on our tree or the rain falling from the sky
- massage on the head when washing their hair
- holding them upside down/piggy back rides
- giving them a sniff of cinnamon or the essential oils I use in their room
Many of these things, can obviously be done from birth, whilst your baby is living in a world of ‘sensations’. Even if they don’t consciously remember it later, it will certainly develop neural pathways in their brain.
My husband and I also enjoy planning activities that the boys will have as memories, mostly just involving family time which is obviously a good foundation for creating memories! And these memories strengthen our family unit. Our aim is to have fun while we can, as you never know what might happen. Being involved in these activities with the children makes the memories more special to them as all they want is for Mummy and Daddy to join in too 🙂 Here are just a few examples:
- Australia Zoo and Underwater World – although not cheap, they are priceless for the excitement and therefore memories they keep
- making mud, playdough and cooking
- planting a vege garden
- beach trips
- all of us playing hide and seek
All of these experiences add up to, ‘remember when we…’. And hopefully with a smile on our faces!
Please share any memories you create with your family, as I am always up for inspiration and probably other parents too!
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