Buy Vacations, Not Stuff: Why Creating Memories Is More Important Than Buying Toys

04/25/2017 01:32 am ET Updated Apr 25, 2017
The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation – Ray. L Wilbur.

We have just spent the last two weeks road tripping through California and Arizona and it has been so much fun! It was all about building family memories and seeing the world through the kid’s eyes was priceless.

Why is the Grand Canyon so big?

Is Arizona a state or a city?

Why are the rocks so red?

How come there is a big sand hill next to the road?

Can we get out and touch a cactus?

How much is one quarter?

How did we arrive in LA before we even left Sydney?

These are just a few of the many thousands of questions the kids asked as we drove through the changing landscapes and scenery of California and Arizona. There is nothing better than taking kids out of the classroom and putting them into the big, wide world to spark their curiosity, problem solving skills, imagination and endless possibilities. The questioning that happens and views they develop from a trip is equivalent to many days in the classroom.

One of the highlights of our trip for me was when my 10 year old son came back to the hotel room in Old Town San Diego and asked how he could be a dolphin trainer after a full day at Sea World. He got out his iPad, found the hotels WiFi, went onto his own email address and wrote this email…

Hello my name is Lachie. Today I went to San Diego SeaWorld. It was really fun but the thing that caught my eye was the dolphins show. I was so excited when it happened. So now I'm writing this letter (mail) to ask how old do you have to be to be a trainer? do you have to go to university? do you need special training and how long will it be if I can and last thing do you need to be chosen to be a trainer? From Lachie, aged 10 Australia

For the next few days, he checked his email and was super excited when SeaWorld emailed him back to tell him the path he needs to go through to be a dolphin trainer (with the added bonus of encouraging him to complete a university degree before turning his hand to working with the dolphins!). He was dreaming, creating and imagining the possibility of this life that was never even in his head a week earlier.

Another highlight was the spectacular reaction each of our kids had to the Grand Canyon. My daughter was blown away with the sheer size of the canyon and the questions started to flow – why, how, what, when. The eagles getting caught in the wind drafts also captivated her interest and she took video after video of these beautiful birds gliding high above the sheer rock faces.

It is these memories that will last in my children’s minds for the longest time. It is not the toys I gave them last Christmas or the stuff I bought them on the trip but the memories we made together as a family that will endure. It is the time we spent together as a family listening to each other, having an adventure and experiencing a different corner of the world.

Making good, happy family memories also helps kids to bounce back when they experience a set back. It develops their resilience. Having experienced happiness, they know they can be in this place and can again find that place either though the actual memory or the feeling that was associated with it.

However, building family memories do not have to include flying to a different country for a two-week road trip. They don’t even have to cost money! Good memories can be built as simply as taking time out to walk around the local lake, going out for breakfast or lunch together, going on a family bike ride, cooking together in the kitchen, having a family sing along, watching a movie together, eating your families favourite meal together, watching the sunset from the highest peak, hiking, picnicking or going to the local festival.

In this current climate of consumerism, it is not surprising that by the age of three that kids have accumulated some 250 + toys. Some of them will promote curiosity and imagination, others are just stuff. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you want and the cycle goes on and on. Getting out of this stuff and seeing the local area or the world with your kids is a much better way to spend your money and a much better way to raise kids to be travellers, sparking curiosity and problem solving and being big picture thinkers.

So, what’s your next adventure??

Anna Partridge is a Parenting Educator, School Teacher and Mother to 3 kids. She helps families raise confident, resilience and emotionally intelligent kids. Find daily inspiration on raising kids the positive parenting way on her Facebook page, website http://www.annapartridge.com or twitter: @_positiveparent

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS