As the single mother of two young daughters who are experiencing the highs and lows of co-parenting, I’m always looking for ways to make their lives easier. And one of the very best tools I have found is a memory jar.
This wonderfully simple invention is not only for children of separated families. Memory jars have a fantastic place in children’s life’s whatever their age and situation. And adults too.
Children today are indescribably busy because they have pressures that were non-existent in our childhood, alongside the demands of technology and the increasing speed of everyday living. As a result, we as parents, must encourage downtime and reflection.
It’s important that children have the opportunity to stop, take stock and be thankful for the positive things in their world. If they whizz through life too quickly without conclusion or afterthought they can become exhausted and complacent.
Enter the memory jar, which is simply way of recording happy memories! What could be better than that? An opportunity to harness the good in life, allowing us to reminisce and evoke feelings of happiness created from past events.
What’s a memory jar and how can it help my child?
HOW TO MAKE A MEMORY JAR?
A memory jar is simply a container in which children (and adults) write down all their happy memories. Creating a memory jar is so easy … its child’s play. Here’s what you do:
- Simply take a jar or container.
- Optional: Decorate it with colours, ribbon and/or stickers.
- Optional: Label it. For example: [Child’s name] Memory Jar.
- Prepare some small pieces of paper and place by the jar with a pen.
- Alternatively you can buy a personalised jar online.
- That’s it. Your memory jar is ready to go!
HOW TO USE A MEMORY JAR
So, every time your child does something that makes them happy, they (or you) write it on one of the pieces of paper and put it in the jar. If they go to daycare or school, ask them what they did and remind them to add the positive things to the jar. It’s the little things that matter with a memory jar. Did they eat a yummy piece of chocolate cake, have a joke with a friend or were they praised by a teacher? Moments of happiness, pride, peace or contentment can all be written on a piece of paper and popped into the jar.
Then, pick a time, the end of each week for instance, empty the jar and read what’s on the pieces of paper i.e. the happy moments. Relive them, laugh about them and tell each other why they made you feel good.
HOW CAN COLLECTING MEMORIES HELP CHILDREN OF DIVORCED OR SEPARATED PARENTS?
For children who move between parents and houses a memory jar is a fantastic tool to make the handover as happy and positive as possible. This is because children need to feel content, not only about where they are going, but also about where they are leaving. Therefore, just before handover is a perfect time to empty the memory jar and look back over the happy moments you’ve shared together. It’s a content conclusion to their time with you. You may even discover something you didn’t know. A moment they consider worth remembering that you didn’t think was important to them.
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HOW CAN A MEMORY JAR HELP CHILDREN TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE EMOTIONS?
A memory jar is invaluable if your child is feeling unhappy, despondent or overwhelmed about their life. At times, children struggle to view their life in a positive light. A common issue is what’s known in psychology as memory bias. In other words, this means they remember what they want to. It can result in them remembering the past as being great, which in comparison makes the present day not as good, and ultimately creates feelings of negativity, anxiety or even depression. However, the weekly use of a memory jar can remind children of all that is good in their world, allowing them to view their current life more favourably and in-turn feel happier.
MORE IDEAS TO STORE YOUR HAPPY MEMORIES
- Memory jars don’t have to be individual. Why not start a shared memory jar for the whole family? There’s a great deal of pleasure in emptying the jar and sharing moments that have shaped your lives.
- Memory jars make beautiful bespoke gifts. An individually crafted memory jar given as a gift for a wedding, birthday or to a new mother is sure to delight.
- Don’t restrict a memory jar to notes only. Memorabilia can be added on a whim. Anything small enough that conjures a memory is perfect. For example, a cinema ticket or a small keepsake prize.
- Start a memory jar at the beginning of a New Year. Use it to record all the special moments throughout the year. Looking back through the jar at the end of the year will be magical.
- Create a memory jar for a special holiday. Whilst away write down your memories and collect souvenirs. Then when you get home decorate a jar and stash your holiday memories in it.
Above all, remember that we go through life experiencing ‘things’ one after the other, almost without a heartbeat in between. Many are good, some are great. Yet because we have over 2,500 and 3,300 thoughts in heads per hour, much of what we experience is forgotten. Don’t let these wonderful moments fleet past. Collect them. Store them to fuel the rockier times in life. For a memory that makes you smile, is a memory worth keeping.