The Best Family Entertainment Money Can't Buy
They grow up too fast.
That’s what they say. Even though it’s hard to believe in the midst of the fiery trials; when the baby refuses to sleep through the night, when the toddler won’t say anything apart from “no,” or “mine!” And when your attention is demanded in every waking moment. There might be times during the early years and challenging stages when it seems as if it will always be this way.
However, time moves quickly, and more so with each passing year. Watching it happen with 4 kids - 11 including nieces and nephews - I can attest to the fact that one day I blinked and we had moved from babies and toddlers to late-childhood and teenagers.
Suddenly my oldest nephew is an adult and my oldest niece is driving to work! My son is in high-school, and he and his “little” brother are taller than me! The girls are doing their own hair and picking out their own clothes. I’m no longer needed to “be” a Barbie or a character they designate in the latest game of “what do you want to eat” at the imaginary restaurant.
Everyone feeds themselves and can cook real food! They open their own doors, carry their own bags, and brush their own teeth!
I realize that it’s true! They do grow up too fast!
So fast, in fact, that it's difficult to notice, while it happens right in front of your eyes, just how much they change in a few short years.
Hang On to the Memories
If I could give one piece of advice to new parents, it would be this: take videos of your kids.
In this smartphone age, the home video is more accessible than ever before. Back when I was a kid, it involved a heavy tape recorder braced on the shoulder of one of my brave parents and a VHS tape with limited recording capacity. Despite the ordeal, they still managed to capture authentic childhood moments which, many years later we can enjoy watching. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Taking videos as the kids are growing, before they’re up and gone, provides you with priceless family entertainment for years to come.
It’s your ticket to the past, a trip you can take the whole family on with something for everyone. All will be amazed to see how far they’ve come, how much they’ve grown, and how consistent distinct personalities are.
Having spent several years at home with four kids in the toddler to mid-childhood years, I amassed a collection daily life recorded. Some eight years later, my eldest and I sifted through the files, creating titles based on the central action of each piece or something one of his sisters or brother said. Titles such as: “Sing Cleaning,” “Chocolate Milk Bread,” “Now you know my ABCs,” and “Can I watch the bideo?!”
We spent hours chuckling as we sorted them out. And when next we had everyone together we watched them as a family. There was more laughter in the room than any other form of entertainment has elicited as we revisited years gone by.
When to Hit Record
Life is meant to be lived, so you definitely don’t want to turn every day into a documentary set with the camera rolling ad nauseam.
Also, your clips needn't be super long. A well-timed video here and there will have your treasure trove stocked in no time without taking away from enjoying life in the moment. And of course, be sure to store your clips safely away as they will increase in value with the passing years. I keep mine on an external hard drive.
My favorite approach to catching the kids on video is what I call the “sneak attack.” If you can manage to sneak a video without them noticing, you’ll be sure to capture them authentically. The moment they realize they are being videoed, you are sure to get a performance.
It's fun to sneak up and video the kids when they are in character, playing some imaginative game together, or having conversations with each other. We often have their cousins around, and when the bunch are busy playing or otherwise interacting, I can usually video them unnoticed. I always hope that later in life, as teenagers and adults, they will still have the strong relationships with each other, and these videos to remind them of their first friendships.
Videos in which the kids are aware are wonderful in their own regard. Until those early teen years when some don’t want to be on camera anymore, you can collect rare performances. Some kids need prompting, some take it and run with it, happy to have the spotlight. Here is where you can see how consistent personality is from those toddler years onward.
Family get-togethers, trips, and outings are other opportunities to capture the time. Later in life, you can walk back through the memories together, reminded of little details you might have otherwise forgotten.
For someone like me, who is especially nostalgic and sentimental, having recorded memories is an invaluable treasure. To gather the kids together and wander through the past, sharing the joy and humor of their yesteryears is bittersweet. It reveals just how quickly the time has passed and how much they have grown. And it reminds me to cherish the time we still have with everyone under one roof - because the next time I blink... they’ll all be grown up.