Ask anyone about their favourite childhood memory and more often than not they will tell you about that time they went to a certain beach with their parents, that time they dive bombed into a pool and soaked their friends, or even that time they spotted dolphins off the coast. Rarely, if ever, will you hear somebody say ‘I cherish the memory of getting a certain toy or video game’.
And yet, in the months after Frozen came out in 2013, eBay was selling 12,623 toys every day in the UK. Plus,it’s estimated that the average annual spend on toys per child in the UK is hovering around the £550 mark!
Let’s look into the science behind why experiences stay with us longest so that we can all spend our money a little more wisely when aiming towards long term happiness rather than instant gratification.
Why do experiences stay with us?
Cindy Chan, an expert on consumer relationships says that ‘the reason experiential gifts are more socially connecting is that they tend to be more emotionally evocative.’ In a study at the University of Toronto, Chan found that the gift of experience strengthened relationships, as both the giver and receiver were emotionally involved.
What’s wrong with toys?
Nothing! However best-selling psychologist and author Oliver James says that many of the toys we buy for our kids are not actually valued or wanted. Indeed, surveys have discovered that between one-fifth and two-thirds of toys are not wanted, but Britain still has the second highest annual spend on toys in the world, just behind Australia.
How can we make the perfect holiday?
‘The first and simplest mistake that an awful lot of parents make is confusing what they find exciting about a holiday with what their children will,’ says James. ‘So many of the ‘interesting’ things about a new place are deathly boring to the vast majority of children – high culture, for example, in almost all forms. So your child, if at all typical, will grumble at the ghastly business of being dragged round.’
Children see the world differently. While you might like to go to a museum on modern art during your holiday, your child would likely rather be in school! Make sure you tailor your break away to the whole family; if you’re struggling with ideas, the following should help…
A survey by HomeAway holiday rentals ranked the best things people want from a holiday. 45% of people wanted to be on a beach, 43% wanted to spend time with family, 39% wanted to be in the sun and 28% wanted to be by a pool. The formula for a happy holiday? Sunshine and water.
So there is no necessity to discover Machu Pichu, explore the rainforests of Southern Asia, trek across the Serengeti, or swim near the Great Barrier Reef! (although that would certainly cement incredible experiences into your child’s personality) Simply grab a bucket and spade and go down to the coast for the day.
Enjoy that ice cream and watch your kids form memories for life. And be sure to enjoy the fact that not a single Lego brick is in sight (unless you’ve gone to Legoland of course).