One of the greatest ways a dad can bond with his children is by making memories together. That requires us as dads to do things with them. The key word is do something. When we are making those memories, take a minute to take a photo. Photos are a great way to preserve those memorable moments so you can look back hours, days, and years later on special moments together.
Here are 10 things you can do to make great memories with your kids. Your children will remember these escapades for their entire lives.
1. Outdoor Adventures
This might include camping, fishing, hunting, sky diving (!), or other adventures outdoors. Take a sweat-drenched selfie as you climb, or a nature shot of a tree-lined path. Every summer while my kids were growing up I would take either my son or my daughter wilderness camping. One year a couple friends and I all took our 15 year old daughters wilderness camping together. We camped for four days alongside a stream just above the tree line in the Cascade Mountains in central Oregon. None of the girls had been wilderness camping before, but they enjoyed themselves immensely despite having to haul their own backpacks up nine thousand feet of mountainside and spending the entire time with no toilet. They appeared to be quite happy and content to spend nights sleeping on the ground under the stars and eating freeze-dried food with their dads. I don’t know who had more fun around the campfire at night—the girls hearing our tired old adventure stories for the first time, or us dads getting to tell them to a fresh audience. What I do know is that not one of those girls has ever forgotten that camping trip—they never fail to mention it every time I see one of them.
2. Working together on a project
This could mean making something for mom or for a new baby, or building/fixing something for the house. I still have photos from when I was a Cub Scout as a boy working with my stepfather on a classic Pinewood Derby car. We didn’t win but that car went down in family lore to be shared with future generations.
3. Family vacations
Whether you can take a week, a day, or even a Saturday afternoon, take an intentional trip together. Get a group photo taken every time you vacation together, then get a photo printed at a local drug store each year that you can hang together. You’ll notice the kids will spend time looking over the photos even as they get older. We have photos of our family dressed up in goofy costumes on many vacations. It was silly but fun—and memorable.
Hobbies can be anything from chess to pinochle or cribbage tournaments. Flying gas powered model airplanes were big when I was a kid. Working on cars together, stamp collecting, bird watching, scale model miniature train sets, and a wide variety of sporting activities are all hobbies that need to be a part of our lives through memories if nothing else. I was a national level junior bowler when I was 12 years old. We traveled around the country that year entering different tournaments and had a great time. I wish I had some photos to better remember this part of my life. With cameras with us all the time on our phones, take a quick snapshot, even if it’s not the perfect frame.
5. Natural milestones
These might include graduations, generational photos, birthdays, father-daughter dances, religious ceremonies, the first day of a new job, a baby’s first steps, or crossing the finish line of your first 5k race. Keep a dedicated photo album of these milestones for each member of the family. Take a look back with your kids to celebrate their past as they may new accomplishments in the present.
6. Business trips
If you travel for business, take one of your children with you on a trip whenever possible. This time alone with dad in an unfamiliar and exciting environment creates lasting memories. It’s often the first time they get to ride on an airplane or stay in a hotel room by themselves. Take selfies as you go on your travels so you can share them with friends and relatives.
7. The first day of school
Take a dedicated shot of each child just before they leave for the first day of school each year. This is when they are always in their newest and coolest clothes with their hippest haircuts. Display them together to show off how they – and their style – have grown over the years!
8. Foolish photos
One of our most favorite family photos is when we had a Christmas photo taken one year. We were all dressed up in formal clothing and took several normal photographs. Then we took one with all of us making a foolish face. That picture was a huge hit and we sent it out in our Christmas cards that year. It is on the wall next to one of the formal photos.
9. Conduct family interviews
Have the kids interview members of their extended family—especially older generations. Many grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles have fascinating stories about growing up in different countries and eras. Have them ask what life was like. Take photos to capture their faces and expressions. They can even use video recorders at family reunions. This can help create a family time capsule and give kids the security of knowing about their family history and where they came from.
10. Pictures with your pets
One year we put reindeer antlers on our big old shepherd/Lab’s head and send them out as a holiday photo. Another time the entire family, including the dog, wore Groucho Marx mustache glasses for our summer photo. Yes, it’s kind of weird but the kids enjoyed it and they still talk about it. We are working up some of those kinds of photos now with the grandchildren. Hopefully, when we are long gone our descendants will look back at those photos fondly with a smile.
As you take photos of special moments with your family, consider sharing them on social media using #makeamoment to encourage and inspire other dads who are doing the same. Have a photo that you’d like to share with the NRFC to be able to use as part of our mission? You can submit it here.
Rick Johnson is a sought-after speaker and bestselling author of 11 books on parenting and marriage. He is also the founder and director of Better Dads Ministries.
Photograph submitted by Roy Gomez.