The first month of 2019 is flying by. I’m seeing friends declutter their homes and organize their living spaces following both New Year’s resolutions and the advice of Marie Kondo in her new Netflix show, Tidying Up. Seeing all the material possessions friends and family members are clearing out (yours truly included!) has me thinking about the importance we place on our things, and whether they really bring meaning and value to our lives.
Most psychology experts agree that experiences, and not things, are what ultimately add value to our lives. And if you think about it, it’s hard to disagree. I know all of my childhood memories involve things I did together with my family. Spontaneous trips and activities and meals far outweigh the memory of any toys I owned. And even now as I listen to my four-year-old recount his day to my husband in the evenings, I notice that he doesn’t tell him which toy he played with. Instead, he tells him about where I took him… to the beach to feed seagulls, to the playground where we saw a turtle or to the grocery store where he got to drive the racecar cart.
With most children, I don’t believe it truly matters where you’re going as long as you-as the parent-are present in the moment and work a little to make it memorable. Finding things you can all enjoy doing together is key, and will provide them with a lifetime of rich experience that carries long into their own adulthood.
Growing up, my husbands family bought a giant van and road tripped to a number of National Parks. My parents also took my brother, sister and I camping a lot. So naturally, time spent outdoors is especially important for both of us in how we bond with our own two boys today.
One of my favorite childhood memories is camping at Huntington Beach State Park on the south end of the Grand Strand. All five of us slept in a tent, explored the park and neighboring Brookgreen Gardens. I learned to ride a bike without training wheels on another trip to that state park and went crabbing for the first time. To this day I couldn’t tell you what clothes I wore on that trip, what sort of car we were driving, or what my bike looked like--but I can accurately describe the feelings of playfulness and curiosity and fun we shared as a family.
I’m lucky enough to still live near where I grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina… an award-winning vacation destination that makes creating experiences fairly easy. From a baby’s first visit to the beach to a fun trip to the waterpark to riding the 200-foot oceanfront SkyWheel, there are ample opportunities for creating lifelong memories here.
But I still need to make more of an effort to do so. And if you-like me-haven’t set a goal for 2019, maybe take an opportunity to think about whether prioritizing experiences over things might be worthwhile. Spending less on birthday parties and trips down the toy aisle and spending more on time together as a family seems like a win for everyone.