Many years have passed since I walked into the little beauty shop down on Saratoga Street. It sat between the local print shop and our town’s only department store. Although I no longer remember its name, everything else about the shop is sacredly etched in my mind.
As soon as you walked in, you were blasted with the intense smell of hair permanents and the heat of old fashioned dome hair dryers. The few ladies working there were always bright and cheerful for a Saturday morning and their chatter filled the small space. They called themselves “beauticians.” Without fail, they invited me to slide open the cooler top and grab a bottled Coke as I made my way to a pleather swirling chair with a pump bar on the bottom. It was there that I sat for the next hour watching my mom get her hair fixed, dreaming of playing with the pink foam rollers and pastel-colored hair permanent rods.
The shop has long been closed, but it is special to me. Memories of happy times were made here and I still go there in my mind from time to time.
It is strange how our minds take us back to certain happy – or sad – times in our lives. A mere sight or smell can evoke vivid memories of a certain event or time in our past. This is our memory working at its best.
Positive, happy memories can be made through routine events and mundane activities. At a young age, I grew to expect and look forward to our Saturday trips to Saratoga Street. Together, my mom and I associated positive emotions with our activities each Saturday. This fondness would end up developing into a lasting memory in my life. For any child’s emotional development, recalling feelings of safety and satisfaction through memories are crucial to healthy growth and maturity.
From the time a child is born, he or she is changing daily, even though parents do not always notice. Every experience is new to a child, from learning to hold a bottle to eventually riding a bicycle. Their emotional, social and physical health is being formed through each experience, so when a parent provides a consistent routine in these controlled changes, the child knows what to expect and feels secure as he or she adapts feeling calm and assured. This feeling of safety equates to love. As life continues, so does its unpredictable nature. With a sense of mastery of these early life changes, a child who equates positive emotion to events will better adjust.
Those Saturdays spent spinning around in the hair chair and dreaming about playing with foam curlers hold a deeper meaning that becomes stronger the older I get. The meaning is that I felt love and attachment on those Saturday trips to the beauty shop. Quality time spent with my mother resonated with me as safety.
Children are more able to form memories of things that are attached to positive emotions. A mental scrapbook of these happy feelings can give them a reference point later in life on the most challenging days because uplifting memories not only take us back to events, but to the feelings attached – love and affection.
Give extraordinary meaning to the routine. Invest in making healthy and happy memories for your own family. Find one or two activities or events that make all family members content and attend them regularly. Plan events that bring meaning and happiness to each individual child. Going to the library to read books may fulfill one child, but not another. You may already have things you do in your home that make your children feel important, safe, and heard. Perhaps making Sunday morning breakfasts. Maybe grocery store trips on Monday nights are special. These consistent happenings are making of fond memories and building healthy emotions.
What routines do you have that could bring extraordinary meaning to your kids?
Lori M. Bender, MSW is a professional life and wellness coach in Columbia, SC. She founded Carolina Lifestyle Coaching, LLC and helps college students design individual stress management plans. Her education is in human development and she has worked in both the public and private sectors before establishing her coaching business. She is newly empty-nested, with two kids in college. Besides being married for 25 years, raising both kids is her most proud achievement. You can follow her blog or visit her on Facebook at Carolina Lifestyle Coaching.