Kids love holidays, that’s no secret. It’s common to hear them recount simple activities like lounging on a blanket and looking at the stars with their parents as siblings as some of their favorite summer memories. Small pleasures like these shape their childhoods and who they grow up to be.
Having said that, family vacations can often be very stressful for the parents. You’re tired from work and now you have to make all the logistical arrangements. You’ll be driving while your little angels throw tantrums in the back seat because they’re getting bored, they’ll have trouble sleeping because their schedules get disrupted and they’re not familiar with their surroundings, and all that excitement sometimes leads to very intense crashes.
Taking all this into account, it’s tempting to just send them to summer camps or road trips with the school, so you and your spouse can enjoy traveling together and finally have some peace and much needed rest. We know just how you feel but here are three reasons that might dissuade you from skipping on family vacations altogether.
As with language learning, the younger they are, the more beneficial travelling is for kids’ development. Research indicate that children who travel with their parents regularly get better grades and achieve higher incomes as adults. Studies have found that the most vivid memories from between the ages of 5 and 10 were from family vacations.
This is because when we’re in familiar surroundings and have a routine, our analytical capacity is sort of on automatic pilot. An enriched unfamiliar environment pushes children to explore and focus on details they had otherwise started to ignore, to filter out. This not only improves creativity and problem-solving skills, but it has also been linked to better stress regulation, concentration and planning skills.
It’s a combination between cognitive and sensory factors. Think about how they like to let the waves wash off the sand from under their toes, touch the grass as it’s waving in the wind, observe the marshmallows roasting on the campfire, collect pebbles. When they’re engaging in this sort of “play” they’re actually trying to explore their environment using all their senses. It’s the fact that you are there that gives them the courage to do this.
Travelling and meeting different kinds of people likewise increases their empathy and improves their social skills. They’re exposed to other perspectives and learn to relate to people that have grown up in a different context, with a different cultural influence. This enhanced ability to connect later helps them create more opportunities for themselves through the relationships they form.
It’s funny how we can lose touch with the people we spend the most time with. Outside of vacation, most of our conversation with our kids are about their school assignments, conflicting schedules, whether or not they did their chores and how they’re spending way too much time on their phones.
As they grow, with each developmental stage, your kids will become increasingly independent, with their own interests and social networks. At first, you’ll be glad they don’t cling to you as much and you get more personal space, but soon you’ll miss that strong bond you used to share with them, when they loved everything you loved and wanted to be just like you.
Family trips gives you a chance to be fully present with them, with plenty of time to talk. You’re essentially embarking on an adventure together, surpassing obstacles and exploring uncharted territory. This is fun as well as incredibly powerful in terms of bringing you closer together. You’ll get to see the world through their eyes and they’ll teach you how to truly enjoy splashing in a pool, playing soccer, eating ice-cream., building a sand castle, little things that give you insight into who they are and who they’re becoming.
We know just how much planning, stamina and financial commitment going on vacation with your kids requires. They get to shift between having fun and complaining while we do everything else. The thing is that we have two selves: the experiencing self and the remembered self.
Showing up to a closed museum, tummy aches and public embarrassment caused by an unexpected tantrum will feel frustrating in the moment, but once the trip is over, even in a short few weeks, all you’ll remember is the good times you had together and the laughter. And so will your youngsters.
When years pass, and they’re off to college, you’ll find yourself putting those vacation photos together synced to a song for family slideshow and relieving those moments you miss so much. Sure, one of them knocked over a glass and the waiter overcharged you for it, but they looked so happy eating that eccentric cupcake.
And what about all their questions about architecture, history and art that came from visiting museums and how you went to the bookstore together and bought an encyclopedia for kids because