February is Heart Month, which is a perfect opportunity to expand our hearts in a variety of ways. From expressions of love to heart-pounding exercise or excitement, you can find plenty of options to make great family memories.

We often think of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, but this month provides an opportunity to show your love for all those around you. Take a few minutes as a family to write “Love Letters” to tell your mom, dad, son or daughter just how much you appreciate all the ways they enrich your life. Think of all those little things we never get around to saying, then put them down on paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s the effort that counts.

You can also give your heart a jolt by doing something that scares you. Really! Get your heart racing by trying something new or even a little intimidating. Reserve a karaoke booth and have a family sing-long. Go check out the biggest, baddest amusement park rides. Go rock climbing, ziplining, roller-skating or skiing. Push you and your family out of your comfort zone just a little and experience a thrill that you may never forget.

Many families make an effort to go for a hike or bike ride, but this February take the opportunity to go the extra mile. For example, instead of a walk around the neighborhood, venture out to that local three-mile trail and commit to doing the whole thing together. Or get on your bikes and explore the Violet Crown trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water and energy snacks to keep you going. It may take a little longer, but the rewards will be worth it.

There’s no better way to build lasting memories than to build them…literally! Maybe the kids would like a small playhouse or treehouse in the backyard. How about a small deck where the family can gather on pleasant evenings?

If you’re looking for something really simple, a planter box is a great starter project that will incorporate gardening into the mix. These types of projects are opportunities for everyone to be actively engaged with designing, planning, purchasing and building. The only limit is your imagination. But once complete, you’ll have a great year round space to make memories that stand the test of time.

YMCA OF AUSTIN offers a variety of ways for families to come together and spend quality time at eight area centers in Travis and Hays Counties. Visit AustinYMCA.org

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