This spring, I found myself under the Florida sun, feet in the sugar-white sand, and book in hand.
With my seven and nine year olds happily building a sandcastle nearby, we were definitely doing vacation right. I couldn’t help but notice a little girl just under the age of two, running along the surf. Squealing in delight, she’d run back and forth from mom to dad. They’d pick her up and spin around or kiss her cheek. Then, she’d squirm and wiggle until they put her down to be off and running again. Mom and Dad would smile and laugh, obviously adoring their little one on her beach day.
All I could think was, “I’m so glad they took her on a vacation she won’t remember.”
Although it can’t be denied that family vacations have positive impacts on children who are old enough to remember them, what about these little ones who are simply too young to remember anything from it?
While taking a little one on a vacation definitely comes with its challenges, like babyproofing and hauling all the baby gear you rely on, it’s always worth it. Here’s why:
WE remember it!
Raising very young children can be monotonous. “The days are long, but the years are short” is absolutely right. Spending some of those long diapered days on a vacation helps us as tired parents remember these precious days so much better. Without the distractions of work and home, we can really enjoy and bond with our littles. When they are grown, we’ll still hold the memories of chubby baby legs running to us in the summer sun.
It makes us slow down.
We are forced to slow down and vacation at the pace of a baby or toddler. Naps are needed, so we can nap, too! The very littlest will never need the non-stop excitement of Disney or an exotic location. Just some sand and water or a campground will do. If we slow down, we get the chance to experience the wonder of the many small pleasures our world offers. They notice things we don’t and delight in things that might seem ordinary to us. A wiggly little bug or the satisfying splash of throwing a rock in the water. It’s all joy.
They LOVE the stories and pictures as they grow older.
“I want to swim in dat BIG pool!” is what my nearly two-year-old exclaimed upon seeing the ocean for the first time. That story still makes her smile now at age nine. Kids love hearing about their baby and toddler selves and vacations provide plenty of stories and pictures to share. I try to make a photo book of each vacation, even when I can’t keep up with everyday photos. The kids may not remember the vacation, but they love to look at the photos. They can feel the love of their family through the photos as well as your smile as you tell them about their first vacations.
You might be surprised by what they DO remember.
My twins remember quite a bit of the beach trip we took when they were only three years old. I was surprised when they brought up details we don’t have in a photo book.
But I was also only three years old and can remember riding with my family on the train to visit my grandparents in Seattle. I remember my grandpa lifting me up to see out of the Space Needle and my grandma laughing when she asked what I wanted for breakfast every morning and I always said, “Pancakes!”
Those are precious memories not only because my grandparents are gone now, but because I have always felt their love through memories like these. Since vacations offer very different experiences than everyday life, you might be surprised by what stays with your kids throughout the years.
So pack the car, buy the tickets, reserve that hotel room, house, or condo. Take your babies to see the small wonders of the world.
Even if they are still young, it will be a trip to remember.
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