Health & Well-being

5 reasons why you should take a family holiday

Family Holiday

Actually, you probably don’t need five reasons, right? Just the one will do – pandemic life!! Reality is, sometimes a family holiday can seem like a whole lot of effort. The implications of disrupting the routine and structures that make family life run more smoothly can put us off packing up the car and heading off on an adventure. But if we’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity and means to take a trip, there are loads of good reasons why we should.

1. Holidays are good for bonding

Breaking away from daily routines is great for family bonding. A holiday, no matter how far away from home you travel, takes us out of the context of ‘normal’ and shifts us somewhere different. That in itself is a wonderful opportunity for bonding and connection. Free from the distractions of work and home life, holidays bring the gift of focus and time to take more notice of each other. Sure, we can connect over everyday domestic life, but a family holiday amps up the connection simply because there is less distraction. We’re sharing a new experience and the sense of togetherness is profound.

We’re sharing a new experience and the sense of togetherness is profound.

2. Holidays are good for our health

Taking a break is good for stress relief. The time away from the consuming busyness of everyday life gives our bodies and minds a chance to take a deep breath, pause and then hit refresh. It can feel stressful to get away, but when we do take a break, we get to come back with recharged creativity and productivity.

3. Holidays are educational

There’s a whole wide world out there beyond our garden fence, and it’s really interesting. When we get out and explore, we learn new stuff – adults and kids alike. And when we learn together on a family holiday, there’s even more shared experience. (Alternatively, you could teach your kids all the things you already know about the places you visit and appear really knowledgeable.)

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4. Holidays are great for making memories

Some of my richest childhood memories are from family holidays. We never went to Disneyland or Fiji, in fact we never even boarded a plane as a family, yet we had unforgettable adventures that were formative to my journey of growing up.

I remember our first trip to the snow (all the way from the ‘winterless north’) and how it felt to slide off the inner tube Dad had procured from the nearest tyre shop and get snow up the back of my hand-knitted woolly jumper. I remember our month-long road trip around the South Island and the camaraderie earned from hour upon hour in a van with my three brothers. I remember that we were each allowed to bring two tapes (yes, tapes) of music of our choice, and if I hear any of those songs 30 years later, I’m right back there on the road to Arthur's Pass.

Kids won’t remember what they were doing as much as they will remember how they felt.

Memories are made when we do something new. You don’t have to travel far and you don’t have to spend a lot of money – the time together as a family, a break from the norm regardless of what you’re actually doing, is highly memorable. We also don’t have to put a lot of pressure on ourselves as parents to deliver unforgettably wonderful holiday itineraries. There’s an adage here at Parenting Place – kids won’t remember what they were doing as much as they will remember how they felt. Holidays can feel exciting and exhilarating. They can also feel warm and fuzzy, thanks to the enhanced connection value of simply being together. And they can feel cold and damp, if you take your kids to the snow without appropriate waterproof clothing. All gold for the memory bank of feelings.

5. Holiday adventures can build resilience

I know that by facing my fear and having a go, I’m doing some important role-modelling for my kids.

Going on an adventure is not only fun and memorable, adventures also have huge potential to grow kids’ resilience and self-confidence. There’s nothing like trying something new to push us out of our comfort zones – again, both the kids and the grown-ups! I’ve got a real problem with hydro slides. They’re ghastly. BUT, I know that by facing my fear and having a go, I’m doing some important role modelling for my kids. Plus, they’ll actually have even more fun on the slide if I join them.

Holidays present wonderful opportunities for adventure. You don’t have to bungee jump, and you don’t have to spend exorbitant money on the latest adrenaline buzz, but try and find at least one activity that pushes everyone just that little bit. Caving, rock climbing, treetop walks, mountain climbing, midwinter swims, hydro slides, luging (yes, also terrifying for some people!) – all great ways to get brave together as a family.

Holidays also offer plenty of opportunities to engage with new people, which for some kids can be a massive challenge to comfort zones. You could encourage your shy kids to order food and drinks for the family at a cafe, or to ask for what they need or would like when presented with options. Everyone can come home from a holiday with a little more resilience in the tank.

It’s been a big year (already!), with everyone facing stress in some shape or form. If you can carve out some time for a holiday, there are a long list of potential benefits for the whole family. Whether you pop down-country to stay with the cousins, or go inter-island for to visit someplace new, you’ll also be doing New Zealand a favour – appreciating our amazing country and injecting a bit of much-needed cash into local economies, while having some fun at the same time.

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam is a passionate communicator, especially on topics relating to families. After 20 years in Auckland working mainly in publishing, Ellie now lives in Northland, with her husband and their three daughters, where she works from home as content editor for Parenting Place. Ellie writes with hope and humour, inspired by the goal of encouraging parents everywhere in the vital work they are doing raising our precious tamariki.

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