It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re on the cusp of all things holiday and fun. The festivals. The fairs. The pumpkin patches. And the promise for more parties and holiday spectaculars just around the corner. It’s the kick off to a magical—if not insane—season, made all the more magical—and insane—with kids.

Not more than a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how magical/insane this time of year is.

Our family had planned and attended so many “fun” things that particular weekend we turned into tired, cranky, sugar-assaulted people of no use to each other or the world.

We wanted to be the fun parents. And to create memories. I wanted us to be able to look fondly back on weekends like this and hear my kids say things like, “Thank you!” “That was awesome!” I didn’t want us to be grumpy and short with each other. But with so much “fun” planned, we started running on less and less, our fuses getting shorter and shorter until it didn’t matter what we were doing. We were too exhausted to enjoy it.

And that’s when it hit me. When it comes to making memories, my kids are cataloguing more than the experience itself. They are taking note of the emotions that come along with them.

They see a stressed out mom.
A tired dad.
And they are living in sugar strung out bodies.

I’m learning if I want to create good memories that last a lifetime, then I have to do more than just plan for the fun. I have to be at a place to enjoy the fun. And they do too.

What that means for my family is something different than what it means for yours. For ours, it means for us to be at a place to engage fun in a positive and healthy way, sometimes we have to say “NO”. . .

To some birthday parties.
To some festivals.
To some fairs.
To some holiday shanningans.

Not because we are boring and straight-laced parents. But because we are learning ourselves. And we know to get the most out of an experience, we have to bring the most into it. Our best into it.

When my kids remember their childhood. I want them to remember fun experiences. But I also want them to remember happy parents in those experiences.

A mom who is at peace.
A dad who is present.
A family where stressed out wasn’t the norm.

Emotions make great memories. And to have the right kind of emotions, sometimes we have to say no to some things to make room for the emotions we want to last a lifetime.

I want my kids to remember…

Those only come when you give them space.
We are sowing “no’s” now so we can reap the kind of memories we want to have later.

We can’t do it all, which means not every memory can be made. But that’s okay. Because when we push ourselves too hard for too long for the sake of making memories, the only memories our kids make are of tired and grumpy parents who just need to sit down for a minute.

So figure out what matters to you. When we start to pare down our crowded calendar, we’ll start to get a clearer idea of what actually matters—and not just entertains us.

As we are on the brink of a season celebrating gratitude, peace, joy and connection with the people we love, we have the opportunity to dictate whether our calendars will rob us of those very things, or whether we will call the shots.

We can’t do it all. We don’t have to do it all. Don’t be afraid to say “no” this season so you can say “yes” to the sort of memory-making you want to go the distance in your kid’s lives—memories of a fun experience and happy parents.

Because when they get both, everyone wins. And mom and dad won’t need a nap.