Tom laughed when I said that I wanted to write about how I had been noticing that our trip to Disney World was becoming an awesome teaching point for contentment in our kids’ lives.
“Disney World is pretty much the opposite illustration of contentment” he said.
But, stick with me for a moment and I’ll explain what I mean!
You can watch the video or keep reading below:
Like most things, if we don’t experience a certain level of contentment in our own life, it may be difficult to instill it in our kids.
Tom and I began exploring this topic last year when it seemed that we kept butting heads about happiness. I would tell him that I could be happy in a 500 square foot house or 5,000 and would try to convince him that what we currently had in life was awesome (probably why minimalism has come pretty naturally to me).
But really, I was background noise while he was looking at newer trucks on Craiglist, talking about investing in real estate and putting in, what I felt, was a minimal effort in the parenting department.
Why can’t he see how fortunate we are!?! Four healthy kids, plenty of food, adequate shelter (albeit not as fancy as the homes we show most days–but truly, WHO CARES!?!)
So what changed?
I wish I could pin point the exact moment or event, but looking back I think it was a series of realizations that none of the “things” in life that he thought would make him happy actually were. That our marriage, while not terrible, also wasn’t great. And that the kids didn’t run to the door when he got home.
In the past, recognizing this, I would have felt a need to facilitate his journey. I would have downloaded audible books for him to listen to or forwarded articles or told him about the things I had just happened to read that day. But I decided that this process probably needed to be of his own inspiration and design.
So I sat back.
It didn’t happen overnight, and there were times I wished that the process were quicker, but piece by piece the puzzle started coming together for him. He read many things online, listened to a book or two on Audible and wrestled with the abstract concept of identity.
Did I even have a role in it?
I’m not sure. I tried to be patient with the process and ask him about things that he was reading and learning (being careful no to have an agenda with my questions!). And I tried to be his biggest fan…no matter where he was at. I realized that even my silent criticism, the things I thought in my head, were coloring my perception of our relationship and it wasn’t one bit helpful.
Trying to switch my perspective to the positive changes he was making (and not expect perfection) was not always easy (and I’m naturally a positive person!), but it did pay off in the long run.
BACK TO DISNEY WORLD:
As we try to help our kids focus less on physical things, I’ve found that looking forward to Disney World has been incredibly helpful. Anticipating a trip is SO much fun with kids. What will we pack? Where will we visit? Who gets the top bunk? What should we bring for snacks?
In fact, in a study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, the study found that all vacationers experienced a significant boost in happiness during the planning stages of the trip because, as the researchers suggest, the vacationers were looking forward to the good times ahead.
Similarily, when you return from a good vacation, you relive the feelings of happiness when you recall the memories. If it is an especially good trip, these feelings can last for years! Talk about the non-physical gift that keeps on giving!
These seem like great reasons to get a vacation on the calendar :)
THE WHAT IF’S OF VACATIONS
BUT, what if we don’t have the money? What if our kids are little and a vacation sounds like more stress than staying home? What if our kids are older and don’t want to go? What if my spouse doesn’t have vacation time?
In the words of my high school weight-lifting coach: ANY EXCUSE WILL DO.
Honestly, for many years we didn’t vacation because of the exact reasons above. But I think we were missing out.
Now, we’re making regular vacations a priority (like our first vacation alone to Hawaii last year…we saved for a LONG time for that!) and we’ve been saving for this trip, too.
We’ve decided to put off things like upgrading vehicles and remodeling our house so that we can travel. It is possible, it will probably just take some planning, a little sacrifice (sorry to use that word) and making it a priority :)
26 DAYS TO GO!
And back to contentment in kids, sorry, I keep going off on tangents! We’ve been working to help them enjoy the planning process. We made our Disney countdown and they anxiously take off a loop first-thing each morning.
We’ve been watching YouTube videos so they can get an idea of what to expect since we’ve never been before and talking about all of the things we’ll do.
It has been really fun and is rubbing off on Tom and I, too (although we’re probably most excited for the warm weather since it has been frigid in MN lately!).
I’d love to hear about your experience traveling with kids, favorite places to go or how you make it financially feasible below :)
Here’s to vacations!
Let’s keep in touch!
And it you’re on Pinterest (and thought this was at all worth sharing ;) here is a picture for that: