No, they probably won’t remember our family trips.
One of the biggest gripes people seem to have about travel with kids is that the kids won’t remember their trip. And? Let’s talk about a few things my kids won’t remember.
Being fed, must not be that important then. Diaper changes – So I can just leave this thing on then, right? No biggie? How about Learning to count. Visiting relatives. Celebrating Holidays. Going out for family dinners. Creating art. Playing outside. Being bathed. Learning to communicate. Being told they are loved. Bedtime stories. How about playing together as siblings? Nope. They probably remember any of it. At least not in the long term.
Although, they might not remember, each bedtime story brings them closer to me. It also assists in language development, improves attention and relieves anxiety – among other things. Each time I tell them I love them, their sense of worth is bolstered. They know they have a secure attachment to an adult who cares for them deeply.
Each time I fly with my kids they learn adaptability and patience. Each time we take a trip, my children benefit from the extra bonding time with their parents – free of the constraints and distractions of everyday life. Each time WE experience a new culture, we view the world through a new lens. We are learning, growing and evolving.
The fact is, kids may not remember a single experience form early childhood but that doesn’t mean that those early experiences aren’t actively shaping them into the person they will become.
Science says you should take your young kids on family vacations
According to Dr. Margot Sunderland, Vacations provide an “enriched environment.” This environment provides new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive and sensory interaction – which positively contribute to brain development. Since most family vacations involve time outdoors, your children will reap the many physical and emotional health benefits associated with time spent in nature.
Some young children DO remember
Most young children retain early memories before childhood amnesia kicks in
Kids actually do remember their travels, at least for a few years. Recent studies have shown that kids younger than seven often remember events that occurred very early in their lives. It’s only after the age of seven when they lose those early memories. For example, in a recent study, children aged 5 – 7 could recall 63% to 72% of the events from when they were 3. Children aged 8 – 9 years old, remembered only about 35% of the events. Some children even retain very early memories into adulthood.
For now, my two-year-olds remember some of their travels and will excitedly reminisce with me. I’ve found that showing them a photo of our trip without saying anything can elicit a recap of other things we did during our trip that were not pictured. We can always return to our favorite places when they’re older for some memories that are guaranteed to last into adulthood.
Hello, I’m still here!
I know I had two babies at once but I’m still here! Here’s the thing. They may not remember our trips but I WILL and those memories will last me a lifetime. I will never forget watching my newly turned two-year-olds having their very first horseback riding lesson by a local farmer at the base of the Swiss Alps. Watching them swim before they could walk in Hawaii. I especially love watching the look on people’s faces when they hear my toddlers speaking Hindi in India.
If my kids aren’t learning and growing, I am.
I learned to appreciate art in Paris – something a semester-long art history class failed miserably to do. In Denmark, I learned to be more relaxed in my parenting, to embrace free play and more. I faced my fear of heights in the Swiss Alps. History became real and meaningful to me after a trip to Rome. I learned that there is no one right way to live or be a great parent.
I really could go on but I would probably write a novel, you get my point.
All of these things make me a better educator, role model, and mother. Of course, one doesn’t HAVE to travel to learn new skills and be a fantastic mother. But I personally LIKE to travel and if you’re reading this you probably do too. Everyone makes sacrifices when children come along but for me personally, ending my travels was neither required or desired. So here we are. Traveling as a family, as it suits us, with no plans to stop anytime soon!
After all, our kids are only young for a season of our lives. I’m living with a little regret as I can muster, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I have today – and probably three weeks from now when my next trip is booked. I want to see the world with my kids so that’s what I am doing.
My kids are not simply along for the ride, they are growing, learning and developing in ways that would either be impossible in one place or would otherwise take years to accomplish.
Lasting memories or not, aren’t we are all better for having adventures?
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