Family memories are slippery little suckers.
Creating them reminds me of that little kid in the TV advert for tinned spaghetti who spent his whole time chasing pasta around his plate with a plastic fork.
The harder you try for one particular one, the less likely you are to get it.
I learned that the hard way recently when I asked my 12 year old to tell me his favourite childhood memory.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Mantra. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
To my knowledge, he’d never even pondered it before and yet he answered without even a pause.
It wasn’t the outrageously expensive weekend to Melbourne with his Dad to see his favourite footy team play.
Nor was it any memories from our wild (and I have to say usually wet) camping trips to beautiful beaches and crystal rock pools.
It wasn’t even the trip we took to France and Abu Dhabi.
The happy memory that had stuck in his brain was a weekend several years ago when he and his Dad got stranded at a house on the NSW coast when a big cyclone hit. The rain pelted down for the entire time and apparently the 2 of them worked their way through the whole of Lord of the Rings series.
My kids are getting older now and I’m suddenly aware that family holidays won’t last forever.
What is about some holidays that make them stick? Why is it some tales become family folklore? “Remember that time when……”
We recently visited the Mantra Hotel at Mooloolaba and it was one of our best holidays ever.
It slowly dawned on me that maybe we have worked out a few shortcuts to happy family holidays.
Here are my top tips.
1. Kids are more likely to remember ice cream cones on the beach than fancy meals.
The Mantra apartment we stayed in had a kitchen that was fancier than our one at home. When we discovered the local supermarket was in the same building complex, we decided to eat our meals in and enjoy our view. The dishwasher and family sized fridge made it no harder than cooking at home.
Instead, we spent our food budget on things we knew would make us all happy.
Double scoop ice creams with warm Nutella over the top (I am not kidding – this is a real thing in Mooloolaba), electronic motorbike races at the video arcade, a trip to Underwater World, bike and kayak hire and stand-up paddle-boarding.
Our camera is full and so are our memories.
2. The big ticket items aren’t always the big winners.
Although I’ll have to wait maybe 17 years to verify my theory, I’m pretty confident that I know what memory my 9-year-old son will keep forever from our holiday.
I don’t know that he’ll remember how much he loved the warm spa that was right beside the outdoor swimming pool. He may not remember that he and his brother spent nearly two whole afternoons in it, laughing and playing together more than I’d seen them in months.