MAKE YOUR FAMILY VACATION MEMORIES LAST
Summer is coming to a close, and as school ramps up, those sweet, fun memories of your hard-earned family vacation start to fade. They get lost in the shuffle of Meet the Teacher nights, buying books and new clothes for those always growing kids and just all around RL.
Trying to juggle the real world becomes paramount, and your kids are on to the next new thing, and you start to wonder if they even remember all the fun times or appreciate every sacrifice you made to make their summer vacation rock!!
Hell, you wonder if you can recall those great memories yourself.
But, preserving those memories and reliving them isn’t as difficult as you think.
Studies show that visual, verbal, smell and taste help recall memories. Ever hear a song, or have the scent of honeysuckle transport you back to a magical moment in your childhood? You can use these same cues to create everlasting, great memories of your family vacations for your kids (and yourself, bonus!!) for years to come.
Sure, photos, we all know that pictures are memory builders. But with smartphones and social media, we have thousands of images socked away on our phones and Facebook, Instagram etc., but are we using these pictures to the best of their use?
Who really looks at them again? And no, very few of us will print them out and put them in photo albums circa 1980? Not me, and I was a verified photo album geek! However, what you can do is load up some of your faves as screen savers for your widescreen TV, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
I suggest the TV because everyone gets to see the revolving photo album, which can spark conversation, thus solidifying the memories even more.
In her article for NPR on kids and memory, story is a powerful component of making memories stick, says Carol Peterson, Ph. D. When a child creates a chronological narrative, these memories will last, she said in the article. Seeing your vacation photos help create the story.
So when we return from vacation (okay, when I say we, I mean my techie husband), loads up some of the best shots from the trip to our screen saver for the TV. When we turn off our TV, photos scroll through, and even on busy days, we can see our happy vacationing faces in high-def.
Of course, I also recommend printing out just a few pics and putting it into frames or blowing up into a canvas for your kids’ room. Maybe even buy a souvenir picture frame to create a more tactile memory. It’s a twofer!!
Make a vacation playlist! We are a very music-friendly family. My husband is a software engineer and codes to music, I write to music, our son plays music on his iPhone in his cruiser cupholder like a mod version of the 80s ghetto blaster. Spotify is on much of the day in our house. Plus, I like to make playlists (a throwback to my mixtape days of yore), so this last vacation, I got the idea of making one for our Italy trip. It’s been on loop for both my son and me since we got home. While we were out, I used Shazam to capture songs in restaurants, gelato shops, cafes and even some museums, then created a playlist on Spotify from there. You can link Shazam and Spotify, making it easy to create a playlist from the songs you hear. Watching my son’s face with his lips curled in a little smile, bobbing his head to the beat of his Italy playlist, I can only hope that when he hears these songs years later, they will transport him back in time.
Extra points for making a slideshow of pictures to the playlist or, better yet, a mini-movie with the soundtrack. If you make it a family project, even better!
Plus, scientists have found that the brain “…links music, memories, and emotions” through a “hub” known as the medial prefrontal cortex, according to Dr. Petr Janata and his team. Much research shows the positive effects of music on the brain, from helping with everything from ADD to Alzheimer’s patients, so let it play, I say, get connected and dance around the living room or cruise the neighborhood blasting your iPhone.
TASTE AND SMELL
Basil, honeysuckle, lavender, dried up pine needles were on our trip. Flavors connect with the brain, and maybe recreating these aren’t as easy as the two above, but if you like to cook or garden, add these elements to your repertoire. Try making a dish or dessert you had on vacation together and see what conversations these stir up.
I’ll try something simple like this gem my good friend and photographer, Emily Carroll, taught me; basil leaves wrapped around mozzarella balls, drizzled with olive oil and stabbed with a toothpick, à la Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I’ll buy the live basil plant, and until I kill it with my brown thumb, its fragrant leaves will permeate our kitchen, creating one more link to our vacation in Italy.
These tips aren’t just for exotic vacations; they are for all vacations! From summer fun with the family at the lake to camping trips or road trips to Disneyland, okay, I’m dating myself here, but you get the idea.
You took the time, energy and money to plan a summer vacation; now it’s time to get your ROI. So take just a little more time when you get home to put together a short family vacation montage for lasting memories and some family bonding.
I’d love to hear and see what you come up with, so share the love!
Love, Peace and Adventure,