Parents making childhood holiday memories

What a fabulous time of year to talk about making great memories for your children!

Vacation time – or as we say in New Zealand, ‘holiday time’ – is the perfect opportunity for us parents to think about how we can help our children create great memories of their childhood.

It doesn’t have to be huge and dosn’t have to be amazing but just doing something different together as a family is so important.

Even facebook now understands the value of memories! They keep posting old posts to remind us!

No matter what your circumstances something can be done around making memories.

If your family has been through difficult times, whether it illness, financial, relationship breakups, whatever it is – you can still find small opportunities to create snippets of memory that your children can hold for a lifetime.

I remember as a child snippets of great times around New Year bonfires, traipsing home in the dark with torches along the bush clad gravel road, happily exhausted.

I remember long hot summer days spending what seemed like hours and hours playing on the lake on tractor tire tubes and old styrofoam surfboards with hordes of kids who were camping near our home on the lakes edge.

This year we made the great trek with our children up the west coast of the South Island to Golden Bay. It is so beautiful up there!

Lovely beaches and lush New Zealand bush. Great camping and not a huge amount of people.

It is our first year going away like this with extended family for Christmas. We were all so excited and looking forward to our first holiday in 2 years. The kids could finally spend some time with their cousins, we adults could finally relax on deck chairs and sit in the sun. Beach walks, bush walks, swims…

You are probably thinking ‘why is she writing this topic now, after the Xmas, New Year holiday is past?’

I could lie convincingly and say it is because I didn’t want to do it while you were all stressed in the lead up to Christmas, with no brain room left to think about it. But the truth is I was so busy in the lead up to Christmas I couldn’t think about it!

I am a doing thinker, and as I lazed on the beaches around Golden Bay I thought about the value of us making that great long trek up the South Island with our children. The three children were stuffed into the back of the expertly packed (by my husband as I’m not allowed to practice my expert packing!), overflowing car, towing an over stuffed trailer of camping gear and presents.

The value of the kids spending two days in the car together within poking distance of each other….hmmm. Lets think about that….

Actually it went reasonably OK. The children got on very well considering and played games together, listened to music and talked. They are at the age that things can go much more smoothly. Nobody is pooping their pants, or screaming their head off.

They have similar interests and we have enough technology (portable DVD and Ipod music) to distract when poeple need their time out from each other.

The freedom the kids have when camping with other families, cousins and friends, is so valuable. They wander off on adventures, child directed games, just hanging out. We adults don’t have to worry about too much tv, computer or technology games. A few safety rules are put in place around knowing where they are and looking after each other.

Even if you are camping on your own, I noticed my children all band together. Become mates for the duration and find adventures and games that everyone is happy with. Siblings tend to come together and the connections strengthen between them at these times.

The research overwhelmingly supports child directed play as enormously valuable in child development. Unfortunately they just don’t get enough of it these days.

Children learn to work things out together. They usually have a leader and they look out for each other and work out problems very quickly compared to when adults are around.

There were no problems at all for our Xmas camping group for two whole weeks. Amazing!

Great memories were made. It’s too early to say what stands out most for the children as they won’t start remembering the holiday until  much later…

I love to hear their stories about trips we have done in the past because the memories that stand out for them are often different than what I would have thought.

Trips and outings for families can take on my forms. One of our snippet memories of a family outing we went on when we lived in Australia was simply a bush walk close to our home which only took about an hour. The kids distinctly remember it because we explored the giant spider webs strung across between the trees and their father scared us all with trying to grab the giant spiders in his hands!

The point it is doesn’t have to take much – just a whole family out enjoying time together, exploring and doing new things.

I love taking my kids on adventures big and small, unfortunateky we don’t get the big ones very often but I think the small ones are so valuable.

Priceless childhood memories.

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