Just like many modern families, we are on a pretty tight budget. We live month-to-month and sometimes struggle to make ends meet.

We don’t have a lot of fancy things. Our furniture is either leftover from college days or handed down to us. We buy clothes from thrift shops. We don’t have cable. We make a lot of meals from scratch. We aim to live responsibly and to be good stewards of what God has given us.

But sometimes, every so often, we chose to splurge. Usually when we spend money outside of our budget, it’s on a family outing, because we prioritize making memories as a family.

One day, I calculated there are only 936 weeks from our children’s birth until they turn 18. Crazy right? So considering that around age 13, we become not-so-cool and our teens may no longer chose to spend time with us, we have about 676 weeks in our children’s childhood where we are in charge of the plans. On hard days, this may seem life forever. Yet, really, this is a blink of an eye.

For many of us, there may never be a day when we have plenty of money for expensive vacations and lavish outings. If we sat around and waited to be in a good financial place, it may be too late. This is why our family has decided not to wait around for those times. We do all we can to make memories now.

Sometimes, our outings require a financial sacrifice, and we’ve decided to just go for it. We periodically take an overnight trip or splurge on tickets to a local amusement park.

I have to say, I never regret the money we spend. I don’t believe occasionally spending money on family fun is irresponsible. Yet on the other hand, there are plenty of budget friendly outings we do on a more regular basis as well.

We go get ice cream at a fast food joint, or take a trip to the library. We pile in the car for a drive together or load up the stroller for an evening walk. We play at the playground and in our backyard. We visit the beach and local gardens.

Whether our outings cost money or are free, there is always something special about getting out of the house and being together. As a mom, I find I can relax a bit more. I don’t have the messy house, laundry or dishes to distract me. I try to keep my phone put away (except for taking pictures of course). My patience is usually stronger and I can focus on the things that matter. I can detach myself from some of the responsibilities of this world, and just purely enjoy my kids.

Yet, if getting out is hard to do, there are plenty of ways to make special memories at home, too. We love making pillow forts, doing craft projects, or dancing around the house together. We have family traditions that make the ordinary day seem extraordinary. For example, we take time for family breakfasts, sometimes even on weekdays.

After one of my children passed away, I’ve been reminded that memories are priceless. I want my children to grow up remembering the times we shared as a family. I want them to feel as though our family was thriving, not just surviving. I want to be invested in their interests. I want to give them experiences that cause them to completely forget about electronics and just to be present in the moment. I want to sometimes be the fun parents. I want them to look forward to their time with us. I want them to savor their childhood and not grow up too quickly. I want them to have memories to share with their own children someday.

My desire is that making memories won’t become another parenting burden we put on ourselves. Instead, I hope it will become freeing. May we allow ourselves to forget the messy house and chores, and just go soak in our children’s sweet and joyful spirits, all while creating memories that will be treasured forever. 

Christiana Whallon

I am a wife and a stay at home mommy to three beautiful children, two on earth and one in Heaven. I love traveling, cooking, and being in nature. You can read more about our daughter, Jaylee Hope, and help us celebrate her memory at https://www.facebook.com/JayleesJourneyofHope