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How Your Brain Morphs Stressful Family Vacations Into Pleasant Memories

RNCollins

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How Your Brain Morphs Stressful Family Vacations Into Pleasant Memories
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/16/well/family/family-vacation-memories-brain.html

By Nicole Slaughter-Graham / The New York Times / August 16, 2018

There may be a lot of bickering, but your memory creates a nostalgia-inducing highlight reel that makes you want to plan the next trip.
“In 2015, my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C., for our annual family vacation with our energetic son, who was then 8. There were no mishaps or disasters, but my husband and I spent most of our time bickering and stressed out.

Maybe it was the fact that we two born-and-raised Floridians were out of our element visiting 30-degree Washington in December. It could have been that we planned hours of walking, sightseeing and museum-hopping with no downtime. It went exactly as planned but it wasn’t exactly fun.

But as we sat in the airport awaiting our flight back to the Florida sunshine, all we could talk about was how we couldn’t wait to go on another vacation.

We somehow had transformed a stressful experience into a great memory. How do parents do this to ourselves?

We have two ‘selves,’” explained Dr. Omar Sultan Haque, a Harvard University psychiatrist and social scientist. “The experiencing self and the remembered self. In the midst of vacation stresses, we may be stressed and annoyed by family and children and the indignities of bureaucratic travel, but the remembered self easily turns nausea into nostalgia.”

Even though we think of vacation as a time to relax and recharge, traveling with children comes with a certain level of difficulty. It takes stamina, financial commitment and time.

The memories, however, are typically positive because of the value we infuse into the experience. “We tend to think of these kinds of experiences on the pleasure/pain level, but really, giving a child the gift of a vacation is more on the meaning/moral plane,” Dr. Haque said. The uninterrupted time together ideally allows for sharing new experiences, great conversations and laughter. These are the moments that have parents planning the next trip....”
8997652E-E512-48F8-8457-A34490E1B537.jpeg

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
 

DaveNV

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Undoubtedly why parents return time and again to Disney. The tidal wave of huge crowds, long lines, and incredible expense are washed away in a second by the gales of laughter from a delighted child.

There is something to be said for momnesia and spendorphins.

Dave
 

klpca

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No woman would ever get pregnant/give birth more than once without the brain having this ability.

It's a gift that we mostly remember the good parts of life. As I vacation, I am constantly reminding myself that there are always stressful parts of traveling, and that I won't remember them unless I choose to dwell on them. We mostly took the kids camping when they were little and they only remember the good parts. Even though we love to camp, there are stressful things about camping no matter how well things are planned. If you talk to our kids you would think that we were like the Walton's. I don't think that it was quite like that, but we have great memories of our camping trips.
 

WinniWoman

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No woman would ever get pregnant/give birth more than once without the brain having this ability.

It's a gift that we mostly remember the good parts of life. As I vacation, I am constantly reminding myself that there are always stressful parts of traveling, and that I won't remember them unless I choose to dwell on them. We mostly took the kids camping when they were little and they only remember the good parts. Even though we love to camp, there are stressful things about camping no matter how well things are planned. If you talk to our kids you would think that we were like the Walton's. I don't think that it was quite like that, but we have great memories of our camping trips.


I must be lacking this because I never forgot the pain of childbirth or any really negative experiences. That is another reason I only had one child and we only do certain types of vacations (no camping for me!) and will also no longer do connecting flights anywhere when we do fly.

I try to avoid stress at all costs- otherwise no point to being on vacation. Sometimes things go wrong- but I leave that for the unknown. Anything I can plan and try to control ahead of time I try to do to make things easier.
 

DaveNV

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No woman would ever get pregnant/give birth more than once without the brain having this ability.

That’s where I got the “momnesia” comment above. :D

Dave
 

b2bailey

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I recently read a book where the author said:
There are times in the midst of a difficult or stressful moment when we say 'we will laugh about this later' Her suggestion is: "Laugh now". I have tried it and it works. (Not applicable during childbirth.)
 

klpca

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I must be lacking this because I never forgot the pain of childbirth or any really negative experiences. That is another reason I only had one child and we only do certain types of vacations (no camping for me!) and will also no longer do connecting flights anywhere when we do fly.

I try to avoid stress at all costs- otherwise no point to being on vacation. Sometimes things go wrong- but I leave that for the unknown. Anything I can plan and try to control ahead of time I try to do to make things easier.
Well, this last trip was amazing but definitely got off to an interesting start. I had taken my dog to the dog park the evening before we left. As usual, I only took my car keys and my driver's license. I left my license in the glove box of my car. I realized where it was just as we parked my husband's car at the airport. We probably had enough time to go home but that would have *really* stressed me out, so I googled what happens if you show up at the airport without your ID. I used my Costco card for a picture ID, then had the super fun pat down. I also knew that they would also go through everything in my carryon, so I checked it in under my husband's ticket (yay Southwest - 2 free bags). It was surprisingly easy. My daughters came later and brought my ID. Now it's just a good story!
 
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silentg

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I find traveling less stressful now that are kids don’t go with us.
Some families do well traveling together(or so they say)
Our adult children like to do different things and are different pace than my husband and I.
I love my daughter, but we both agree we are not good traveling companions.
Our son, is easy going but he actually slows us down.
We all do better traveling with others. And we enjoy each other’s photos of fun vacations.
Just being honest, we definitely are not the Waltons.
Silentg
 

klpca

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I find traveling less stressful now that are kids don’t go with us.
Some families do well traveling together(or so they say)
Our adult children like to do different things and are different pace than my husband and I.
I love my daughter, but we both agree we are not good traveling companions.
Our son, is easy going but he actually slows us down.
We all do better traveling with others. And we enjoy each other’s photos of fun vacations.
Just being honest, we definitely are not the Waltons.
Silentg
Since we are pretty active we find that it drives some of our friends nuts, but our kids are just like us so we're well suited for traveling together. For our 5 day Tahoe trip we did two 3 -5 mile hikes, kayaked twice, played a round of disc golf, and then did family dart, corn hole, and ping pong tournaments. Plus played cards and other games. Some of the kids went rock climbing too. I'm whipped today.

We do great with our kids, others not so much. :D
 

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We probably had enough time to go home but that would have *really* stressed me out, so I googled what happens if you show up at the airport without your ID. I used my Costco card for a picture ID, then had the super fun pat down. I also knew that they would also go through everything in my carryon, so I checked it in under my husband's ticket (yay Southwest - 2 free bags). It was surprisingly easy. My daughters came later and brought my ID. Now it's just a good story!

Wow, I thought you had to have a government issued ID. Good to know, just in case :)
 

DaveNV

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Wow, I thought you had to have a government issued ID. Good to know, just in case :)

Had a friend who lost her ID in Las Vegas. She was able to get home on her Costco ID as well.

Dave
 

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If vacations were stressful, I wouldn't go on them. I enjoy being around my kids immensely, even if they are occasionally a pain on vacation. They are the best part of my life, and whatever's in second place isn't even close. We enjoy our family vacations, so the premise of the article is mostly lost on me.

Sent from my Moto G (5S) Plus using Tapatalk
 

Seaport104

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Had a friend who lost her ID in Las Vegas. She was able to get home on her Costco ID as well.

Dave

That is one of my fears, that I get to the airport and someone in the trip doesn't have their ID. All along, I thought government ID was a must so I have passport cards for my whole family that I bring for domestic flights just in case someone forgets their ID or loses their wallet/ID in the trip. Good to know I now have a 2nd back-up - Costco cards LOL. Who would have thought!
 

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switching from hotel rooms to condos/houses (timeshare and otherwise) not only greatly reduced stress, it also made the memories much better.
 

klpca

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Had a friend who lost her ID in Las Vegas. She was able to get home on her Costco ID as well.

Dave
I'm pretty sure that I read it on TUG. My husband was laughing when I told him what I was going to use - but it worked like a charm.

Btw, nothing stresses out my husband, and lots of things stress me out. I have always chalked it up to a Mars/Venus thing. I am trying to be more like him. :D
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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Btw, nothing stresses out my husband, and lots of things stress me out. I have always chalked it up to a Mars/Venus thing. I am trying to be more like him. :D
Yep. DW stresses much more than me. Doing timeshare has been great for her - more space, and going back to the same spots regularly is far easier for her.
 

DaveNV

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That is one of my fears, that I get to the airport and someone in the trip doesn't have their ID. All along, I thought government ID was a must so I have passport cards for my whole family that I bring for domestic flights just in case someone forgets their ID or loses their wallet/ID in the trip. Good to know I now have a 2nd back-up - Costco cards LOL. Who would have thought!

I don’t know that I’d count on it though. If the TSA agent is a fan of Sam’s Club, it could get ugly. :)

Dave
 

Seaport104

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I just realized that this article must explain why I look upon my family vacations of 26+ people so fondly because there are times during the trip that I am exhausted and stressed out!! Yet, I keep planning them!! When it's all over, it's like I don't even remember those times just the laughs :)
 
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