Our family revels in tradition. We're talking Valentine love notes, Leprechaun hunts, Easter eggs, end-of-school-year parties, summer traditions, back-to-school parties, Halloween themed dinners, pies as far as they eye can see at Thanksgiving, and a huge annual "Holiday Kick-Off" each year complete with a special dinner, gingerbread house making, a viewing of Elf, and holiday jammies. Having grown up with what I would consider an enchanted childhood, I'm doing my best to provide my kids the same thing.
As much as I love (over)celebrating everything, I've become weary of "stuff." As a mom, I catch myself attempting to instill values dissociated with THINGS. "Stuff doesn't make you happy, people make you happy," and "People are more important than things..." As a family we're attempting to build relationships and memories rather than a focus on material items.
I asked my kids recently to provide me a list of things they'd gotten for Christmas and birthdays over the last few years. While they did recall a few things, their lists were short. I then asked them to tell me about a few adventures we'd had as a family. Can you guess the results? Their memories were amazing!
We choose experiences. No more things - and here are 3 research backed reasons why:
1. Happiness from "stuff" is temporary. Literally.
"One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them." says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor that has been studying money and happiness for over 20 years. He argues that money can buy us happiness, but only to a point.
2. Experiences become part of you.
The things we own don't define us, but our experiences, (both good and bad) make us who we are. We are the sum of our total experiences so why not try to have as many positive adventurous experiences as possible?
3. Shared experiences bind us.
We all have inside jokes with those we're closest to. Challenges, journeys, adventures, experiences - when shared, they make us feel more connected to one another. The equation here? Create more shared experiences and you'll get more bonding time as a family.
As a parent, I want my kids stepping into their adulthood with a strong sense of belonging and with elaborate memories of navigating the ups and downs of all of our family adventures, and I want to provide them as many opportunities as I can to do just that.
With our new family focus this year on these ideals, we've planned an epic #FamilyForward adventure with the folks of Mom It Forward and Family Forward. We'll be spending a long Labor Day weekend at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. Family Forward's aim is to give families experiences, ideas, and skills to embrace bonding in this digital age. Check out how other bloggers are doing it by following the #TravelForReal hashtag online.
Traveling 2,500 miles with 3 kids ranging in age from 6 to 16 over a span of a week with one hotel room and a very full schedule is inherently going to be exciting and challenging. We'll feel every single emotion in that span of seven days, but most importantly, we'll be feeling those together - as a family!
It will be impossible not to make life-lasting memories.