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WISH YOU WERE HERE
Family Vacations, Great Memories, and Childhood Development
out together under warm sun, feeling sand between the toes.”
also did the Disney experience three times, and my favorite family trip of all was a Disney cruise we took some years ago. I’m starting to think my kids might have been a little spoiled, but honestly, I wouldn’t change a single vacation. It’s important to take trips as a family, especially when the kids are younger. Did you know research conducted in Britain found that 49 percent of people say their happiest memory is from a family vacation? And a lot of these people said those happy memories help them get through tough times. I can vouch for that. All our family vacations have given me a collection of great memories. Plus, it turns out taking trips together is also good for a kid’s brain development.
The one thing my kids can’t say is that we never took family vacations. One of the most important things is quality time spent with your loved ones, so over the years I’ve made sure we took time away from work and school for us to bond as a family. And there have been so many opportunities for family bonding. My brother-in-law has a condo down in Florida, and for years our Memorial Day tradition has been to drive down there and hang out on the beach for a week. It’s a great place to unplug and really relax. My wife and I would soak up some sun on the beach and give our kids the freedom to roam on their own for a while. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m more fond of snow than I am of sand, so we also spend a great deal of time skiing out west. We
Being in a new environment does more than create cool memories, though that is important. According to Dr. Sunderland, “enriching experiences” activate areas of the brain associated with concentration, planning, learning, and stress control. “The brain fertilizers triggered in enriched environments are also associated with higher IQ in children,” she adds. “So, spend time exploring together in a new space and you’re making your child smarter.” Another reason taking trips with your young kids is important is because one day your kids are going to grow up. My daughter didn’t join us for the Memorial Day trip this year, as she was studying abroad in Madrid. We still had a good time, but it wasn’t the same without her.
“An enriched environment offers new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive, and sensory interaction,” says child psychotherapist Dr. Margot Sunderland. “Think: family together in the pool, walking together through the forest, touching long tall grasses waving in the wind, toasting marshmallows on campfire, hanging
Family vacations can change a lot over the years, but I think it’s important to keep planning them.
Any time spent with your family, whether it’s on a cruise or around the bonfire in your backyard, is time well-spent.
Dr. Casey Bearden
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