When you are next shopping for Birthdays or Christmas, take a step back and just think about whether spending £70 on the latest Hatchimal toy is worth the money when you could get a cheap mini-break somewhere for almost the same price. Let’s face it apart from the initial gratification of a toy they ‘have wanted their whole lives!’, said toy is usually forgotten about within a week. My son prefers a cardboard box to his all singing and all dancing toddler karaoke machine!
Research has now shown that the cognitive-development benefits from a holiday are paramount in a child’s growth. The play and seeking systems in our children’s brains are triggered most when on holiday and are rarely used at home. The play system can be from something as simple as feeling sand under their toes or splashing in the ocean, whereas the seeking system is activated when children are outside of their routine and seeing new things in nature or noticing differences in cultures. A trip does not have to be a two week holiday road-tripping across the USA. A two night mini-break in the UK or Europe would be enough to trigger all the senses and have a profoundly positive impact on our children.
When travelling with children it’s important that whilst the holiday needs to suit everyone, children are unlikely to enjoy exactly what adults enjoy. So try to avoid a trip of high culture or a boozy week with friends, there’s nothing wrong with mixing in a little bit of everything – but it’s important that these trips have a positive impact on children and they grow up with a sense of adventure and a craving to see more of the world.
The moments and memories of a holiday will bring joy and happiness to children forever. We all have the trips we remember as children and how much we loved them. A toy or gift just doesn’t offer that and they shortly lose their appeal. Psychologist Oliver James recently recorded with the Telegraph his findings and has been pleading with parents to spend less on toys and spend more on experiences and holidays that will last forever. As well as the learning benefits you also have the quality time with family, it’s too easy when at home to be distracted as there are always jobs to be done. When on holiday everyone relaxes and parents are more likely to make an effort, spending proper quality time with their children.
Children that are taken on holidays whether in the UK or abroad are not just learning about new places but developing a respect for other people and cultures. They are growing in confidence and having experiences outside their comfort zone. They are becoming more travel saavy, growing in worldly experience which will be invaluable for everyday life.
The benefits of travel to children are endless; it’s easy to have reasons and barriers as to why we can’t go away – too much money, not enough time – being the obvious excuses. There is no reason why in your high-powered job you can’t make time for a quick family trip or weekend away – why not incorporate the two and bring the family away with you on the next work trip. Most employers understand the need for family time.
For those where money is the issue then try something closer to home, a weekend at the beach or camping in The Lake District is just as good. Making sacrifices for our family is part of life and a holiday to further your children’s development and mental well-being is above all else what is most important to set them up for life – so if you can quit Starbucks for a year in order to book a mini-break then it’ll be well worth the lack of caffeine!
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