This article was written for The Beacon, July 2015 edition.
Why travel with children? Children need structure, routine and familiarity; all of which are difficult while travelling. But we (parents) do it anyway, every year, sometimes more than once a year, and sometimes every weekend. Why?
People are wired for personal growth. It is our destiny to grow as human beings and engage in personal development. And the best way to do this is to have children, despite the grim stats on the subject. Did you know that parenthood actually creates marital dissatisfaction? Data collected by John and Julie Gottmann of the Gottman Institute in Seattle reveals this very truth! Two thirds of couples that have children experience a break down in their relationship. But there is hope! I had the opportunity to study at the Gottman Institute to bring the renowned “Bringing Baby Home” program to the North Shore; helping couples with this transition to parenthood.
So it all makes sense.....really....it's all a journey in self improvement; a journey that usually involves physically travelling with children.
There are many articles with wonderful tips about how to travel with children. Google “travelling with children” and you will find what you need. Start your journey by planning the holiday together with your children. Plan a list of activities for everyday and help your children create a scrapbook to record their memories. Buy a Polaroid camera so the kids can post their photos instantly in their scrapbook. Digital media can also be useful, but beware. Too many family photos get stuck in the digital world. They serve no purpose there.
Children love holding and looking at real photo albums; and it’s important for their development. While sitting together, looking at photo albums “help your kids talk about their experiences,” Dr. Daniel Seigel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson write in the Whole Brain Child, “Studies have clearly shown that the very act of recalling and expressing an event .... can improve immune and heart function, as well as general well-being.”
My final advice for a happy vacation is to simply remember that happiness requires a lot of work and that’s okay. Family holidays can equip our children with a strong and happy foundation. They strengthen families by bringing them together for a common goal, creating shared meaning, trying new things together and most importantly, talking about those experiences. Ultimately, your journey isn’t just one of personal development; you are raising a generation.
So who in their right mind would travel with children? We do (parents). We don’t want our children just to survive; we want them to thrive. And family holidays can provide the kinds of experiences that will help raise resilient, well-integrated, happy children.