Life has turned busier than ever, leaving less and less time for family activities. While this may not seem to matter much in the short run—you do catch up with your children over dinner and over the weekends!—the long-term impact of declining family time has long been a topic of research by social scientists and child development experts.
Research also shows that travelling with family to new places greatly enhances children’s mental and physical well-being. So here we’ve summed up 5 wonderful reasons to plan your next getaway with your children.
Research shows that family holidays leave a lasting positive impact on a child’s brain, as spending time with parents exploring new places and learning more about the world stimulates cognitive development. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve concentration and attention as well as lower stress levels in children.
On vacation you do activities with children that you won’t normally do at home. These playful activities activate what are known as the brain’s SEEKING system and PLAY system, which in turn stimulate the release of neurochemicals responsible for your child’s emotional and physical well-being.
Break from everyday stress
Numerous studies highlight the stress and pressure faced by tweens and teens of today. Even children as young as seven are prone to stress and anxiety brought about peer pressure and the many demands on their time. Travelling with family provides young children the much-needed respite from the stresses of growing up.
No one, however, needs a good vacation like today’s adolescents. With so much happening around them all the time, your teenager will greatly benefit from a holiday in a new, serene setting far from home. Even if they’re not much of a talker, a stroll with you on a beach far away from home may just get your teen in the right mood to strike a conversation.
Time away from technology
If you’re constantly stressing about the number of hours your child spends on gadgets every day, you’re not alone. As much as technology has become an indispensable part of our lives, parents everywhere are increasingly looking for ways for the entire family to log off, unplug, and connect with nature.
Tip: How to get your children to agree to leave the gadgets behind
Get them excited. Show them photos of the destination you’re planning to visit and of all the fun they’re going to have. Got a young snorkeling fan? Show the child photos of their favorite activities they’ll get to do at the destination. This will help your child visualize the experience and they’ll be more willing to part with the tablet. Also think of family activities the child can do during downtime—read, play a board game, or go for a stroll. Lastly, be firm. Set expectations right at the beginning that this is going to be a “tech-free holiday.”
Lessons in independence and interdependence
Involve your child in every aspect of vacation planning from start to finish—picking a destination, budgeting, organizing, research, packing, exploring, and even unpacking and resuming everyday activities when back home. Allocate responsibilities according to interest—if your seven-year-old loves water sports, look up the information together and then ask them to make notes of the important details.
Discuss money and set aside a daily or activity-wise budget (shopping budget, spending on meals, excursion costs). Encourage responsible spending by making your child in charge of tracking some of these items.
Involving your child in research and decision-making not only fosters independent thinking, it also teaches them the value of mutual interdependence. They learn how collective effort creates a better experience for all.
A happy child grows into a happy adult
Some of the best memories children carry into their adult life are of trips taken with parents and grandparents. Memories of time spent with family exploring new places and cultures are forever etched in the subconscious mind of a young child. Research shows that there’s nothing like a happy childhood to form a strong foundation for a fulfilling adult life. The memories you create with your child now will be their emotional anchor for life—something positive for them to turn to in moments when adult life becomes too much to handle.
To sum up, Family vacations are an opportunity for your children to learn more about you, and vice versa. A holiday environment gives everyone a chance to be more affectionate and expressive. And that’s worth all the trouble of planning and organizing a perfect family getaway.