Travelling with kids is hugely beneficial and teaches life experiences that cannot be taught in a classroom or learned from a book. It opens children’s minds and makes them curious about the world we live in, as well as teaching them humility, and a sense of awareness. It also makes children braver and instills confidence in them, forcing them to step out of their usual routines and to try new and wonderful things.
Family travel also gives you valuable time together. Children will benefit from their parents not being bogged down from chores that often get in the way of everyday life. You as parents will be able to devote more quality time to your children, and collectively experience new and exciting adventures together. You’ll learn the same things, see the same sights, and make memories that only you, as a family, can share, therefore strengthening the bond between you all. Holidays are definitely very beneficial for family cohesion. One more reason why you have to go on a trip with the whole family now. And at Iberostar’s beachfront resorts, children stay for free—another great reason to travel with your kids! Knowing the importance of keeping children engaged, these resorts provide a range of activities and games for little ones to enjoy.
That said, however, traveling with children isn’t easy. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but on some occasions they can also be a source of stress, particularly for children who feel out of their comfort zone. The build-up can be a little stressful, especially the packing and logistics, while children can often find themselves a little out of sorts, faced with different foods and different settings, and not in their normal routines. Sitting them down and talking to them about their fears is a good start, as is making it fun to learn about the country or place you are going to.
If you’re still stuck for ideas, practicing some mindfulness techniques is a great way to combat any anxiety for an upcoming trip, as well as enhance the overall experience. Here are some ways to help kids (and yourself) unwind…
WHAT EXACTLY IS MINDFULNESS?
Put simply, mindfulness is a way to keep your mind fully focused on what’s happening, what you’re doing, the space you’re moving through… It may sound easy enough, but as we can all attest to, stopping your mind from wandering off course and not become preoccupied by obsessive thoughts or worrying about future events is actually extremely difficult, and this is often what causes anxiety and stress.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
With simple techniques such as breathing and meditation exercises, it is possible to be able to practise staying in the present, and you don’t need to change anything in your lifestyle in order to do it.
WHY IS MINDFULNESS GOOD FOR KIDS?
Not only is there evidence to suggest that mindfulness can help increase children’s attention span but it can also help calm them down when they are upset. Teaching kids some mindfulness techniques will give them the skills to be able to recognize their thoughts are just “thoughts” and to deal with their emotions. It replaces impulsive reactions with thoughtful responses. Without mindfulness we tend to be reactive, whereas with mindfulness we can respond in a more rational way.
HOW DOES IT HELP WITH TRAVEL?
Travel is rewarding in so many ways, not least because it affords the opportunities for us to be able to be a little braver when we seek out destinations that are completely new to us, and to experience cultures, languages and situations outside of the norm. But it’s this exact element that can cause children to be worried.
Perhaps you have a child who is anxious about flying, or being in a car for long periods of time. Or maybe they’re concerned about the different food that they may have to eat. They may even be worried about being away from home.
Mindful kids are more adept at being able to cope with change, they feel more confident, and are more connected with the people around them. This will certainly help when they have to meet new faces.
They also tend to be better sleepers, and with travel comes different time zones and long journeys, so a good sleep routine means everyone in the family will be well-rested for the exciting and adventurous days ahead at your destination.
HOW CAN YOU PRACTISE MINDFULNESS?
The first thing to consider is that in order to teach your children mindfulness, you will have to do it yourself first. After all, you have to practise what you preach.
Most people have little time to dedicate to the formal practise of mindfulness, so here are some quick and easy exercises that you can incorporate into your daily life and will leave you better equipped to explain it to your kids:
Take a break
Instead of checking an email, or grabbing your tablet to click on social media, why not take a mindful break? Put away the smartphone, and just sit for a quiet moment and contemplate your surroundings. What can you hear? How do you feel? Try to be present in that moment and if your mind begins to wander to thoughts of work or any worries, try to bring your focus back to the present.
Just one breath
You can do this at any time of the day. Just breathe in, and breathe out. Focus your attention on how this feels in your chest and stomach. It’s a great way to focus your mind, even for just a few seconds.
If you have to walk anywhere uninterrupted for around 10 or 15 minutes, this exercise is a great way to develop your focus. At first, people often concentrate on the sensation of their feet touching the ground. Then you could just as easily focus on your breath or move the attention around your body, part by part. The key, though, is to develop a relaxed attention, and when your mind wanders away, bring it back gently.
When you take the first bite of any meal, just take a moment to really pay attention to the taste. Look at the food carefully, feel the textures in your mouth, smell it and notice how your body reacts to it. You don’t need to keep this up all the way through the meal, but use it every now and then to focus your attention.
Find a convenient time and try some mindful listening. We get used to so many sounds around us that we naturally tune them out.
If you live in a city, you might be hearing car engines, train announcements and people talking loudly on their cell phones. If you’re In the countryside there could be leaves rustling, birds singing or a dog barking. Take a moment and digest what can you hear right now.
Or, put on some music and really listen to it for a short period: try to hear the music without thinking about it the lyrics or what they remind you of. Try not to let your mind wander to things it reminds you of and just allow the music to flow over you.