sunset at night

As summer is winding down, and fall scheduling is back in high gear, intentional family moments will have to be sought after and fought for during the next few months. A few weeks ago, I gave some suggestions for end of the summer tradition ideas and thought it  important to have my actions match my talk. Let me tell you, I didn’t want to…

There’s always a reason NOT to capture spontaneous memorable moments.

  • I’m busy.
  • I have work to do.
  • I don’t have any money. We can’t afford it.
  • The house is a mess and chores need to be done.
  • I’m tired.
  • I need to catch up on my overloaded “in box.”
  • I have a few calls I need to make.

Yet on this day, I remembered my commitment last summer to being a “Yes Mom” in the little things.  A mom who cares enough to say “No” in the hard moments, but captures the magical ones with a big, fat “Yes.”

So when this daughter requested, “Mom, can we take a picnic outside tonight,” I said, Yes.”

happy girl

Now, hear me on this. Don’t get all HGTV/ Food Network-y on me. We have built up expectations that magical moments need to cost us time and money. That is NEVER the case. Those moments that will be remembered years from now are the ones where you were just available, and I need to continually remind myself of that.

Look below at what our gourmet fare consisted of that evening. Pretty impressive, isn’t it? 🙂

I almost told my daughter “no” to her request because we didn’t have any “official” picnic food on hand. She reminded me about our hot dogs (which I had just purchased Buy One, Get One Free the night before) and chips. Quickly, the two of us set off to boil hot dogs, put them in buns, grab some cookies, chips and ketchup and jump in the van. Our teen boys moaned for a minute, but we didn’t give them the option. Our spontaneous picnic came together in less than ten minutes, and cost us only our time. The food was already bought (with coupons) and the lack of excuses…priceless.

spontaneous picnic

This evening wasn’t about the amazing open air alfresco spread with an assortment of various cheeses spanning three continents. It was just about spending a few moments together and breaking bread…even if it was just $0.99 Harris Teeter hot dog buns.

As busy families, working women, stay at home moms, single adults – what ever stage of life we’re in, it’s so easy to prioritize the non-essentials. I do it all the time, and some how I make time for those moments that won’t even be remembered a month from now.

You can be guaranteed that this magical moment is etched in my memory for a lifetime. (And to think I almost missed it because I was too busy).

sunset with children

When did our baby get so big, or could it be that my husband shrank?

father and son

So why not take a few minutes and shake up your after school snack or dinner time hour this week?

Remember, it doesn’t have to be elaborate to make memories. There’s something about the simplicity of eating outside that allows that to happen all on its own. You don’t need a beautiful lake in your vicinity, you just need a few minutes of creative intentionality.

Here are a few inspiration ideas that cost zero money, but more importantly, minimal preperation time:

  • Picnic table at your local park – (Summertime Brunch and Tablescape)
  • Beautiful meadow with wild flowers that engageyour senses  – don’t forget the blanket.
  • Switch yards with your neighbor for an hour.
  • Hop in the car and ask the kids to direct you for five minutes. Where ever they lead you…stop and eat there. (Yes, it could be interesting, but your kids will talk about it for years).
  • Do you live near a friendly neighborhood farm? Borrow their corn field for an hour (after asking, of course).
  • Find a local creek. Dabble your feet in the water while you enjoy the freedom that comes with bare feet.
  • Are you in the city? People watch at your local city center or find a bench near a fountain.

I would love to hear your creative ideas, and I will add them to the list.