One morning when I was 6 or 7 years old I went to my grandmother’s house. Upon arriving she told me I needed to help her pack because she and papa were going on a vacation. To a place where Mickey and Minnie lived. And there was something about spinning tea cups. “Oh wow…” I listened enraptured to all the things they would do as we helped get their clothes together and put in the suitcase. Sometime around lunch I asked if she thought my mom would let me go too, seeing as how I didn’t have much to do and all. “We can ask,” she said, “but I can’t promise you anything.”
With bated breath I passed the afternoon until we packed up in the car so we could ask my mother the big question. I had a great speech prepared. We arrived, went into the house, and were met with my smiling mother and a big packed suitcase for us both. I still remember that trip, I got lost at Epcot in Spain.
We should build anticipation for our children and here’s why.
1. It’s fun for them.
Events and activities are actually a lot more fun for children if they are able to anticipate them beforehand. Why? Hunger is the sweetest sauce. My grandmother capitalized on my imagination and youthful excitement by enticing me with what was to come. Nothing too extravagant, but just throwing out comments here and there to get me thinking about her trip. Instead of just “we’re going to Disney World” she made the entire process fun and exciting. Then when we got to Disney World, it felt like a dream fulfilled because she had allowed my heart to imagine the possibilities.
2. It’s fun for us.
Last week we went to the big zoo near us. The day before, which is when we decided to go, we started talking about the zoo with the kids. We showed the animal pictures, practiced animal noises, and watched a few videos to help build the excitement. We talked it up and the next morning when the kids woke up, the first words out of our daughter’s mouth was how she wanted to wear her pink John Deere tractor shirt to the zoo! I loved being able to get in on the excitement with them and think about the zoo from their perspective. To an adult, the zoo can be rather regular, but building that anticipation in the kids made it more fun for me too.
3. It makes normal things special.
The zoo is a little more special than the average day, but even building anticipation in everyday events makes things more fun. Pancakes for breakfast is normal. Sprinkle pancakes in a heart shape for a special occasion is different. I decided a while ago that if I didn’t make things special in our home then things would not be special. Material things aren’t nearly as important as experiences and part of what makes experiences memorable is the emotions you feel while you’re having them. If you encourage excitement and wonder in your children then they’ll remember those feelings about their childhood later, long after the events which inspired them pass away.
4. We learn to make things fun.
So much excitement and wonder in life has gone by the wayside with all the information in the world at our fingertips. Instead of staring at a small insect watching its every move with full concentration, we take one quick look and go back inside to google it. Things can be so much more fun when they are unknown, mysterious and leave room for the imagination. By building anticipation and talking up things we’re going to do – or talking about things period – we are training our children and ourselves to think and live and use our brains creatively.
Next time you are going out for ice cream, go to the park or go swimming just start talking about it. Talk about how good that chocolate will taste, how much fun it will be to master the cartwheel or how good they are getting at sharks and minnows. Make a big deal about the sprinkles. Bring the entertainment yourself and watch how your children come alive.