Creating happy memories with the kids

Lee Shen-Li with Gareth and his grandfather at the Ostrich Farm.

Shanti Jacqueline remembers huge family Christmases, birthday celebrations, holidays with the extended family and getting together with her cousins. When she had her son, Carl, now 14, she wanted to replicate some of those experiences for him.

“My memories make me keep doing things because I know they make me happy, and others too, and they allow me to realise that life can be fun despite the daily stress. That’s what I want ultimately for Carl,” says the busy working mum.

According to Krystine Batcho in an article entitled “Childhood Happiness: More Than Just Child’s Play” in the magazine Psychology Today, “... research suggests that the impression of having had a happy childhood is associated with greater social connectedness, enhanced sense of self and healthy behaviours.

“Adverse impressions of childhood are related to greater difficulty in relationships, self-insight and dealing with distress.”

If who we are today is a product of what we experienced, then the importance of great memories cannot be denied, especially in childhood. Some parents, like Shanti, take time to create these experiences for their children.

Forming connections, knowing roots

On one of their holidays, Shanti took Carl to the Gold Coast in Australia with her cousin and two children. Until today, all three kids say that trip two years ago was their best holiday ever.

“During the trip, they were content to just muck about with each other in the lounge of our apartment. Simple stuff really,” shares Shanti, who says it made her understand just how important time together with family is.

The CEO of Tune Hotels, Mark Lankester, is in the business of creating great holiday experiences. His work keeps him busy all year round, but he makes sure he carves some time out for a family vacation every year. This Christmas, he is organising a big journey to Edinburgh to meet up with the rest of his extended family.

“Family holidays are about spending time together away from home and having a great experience. They’re about discovering new and interesting things. Children learn through seeing different cultures and society. I am half British and half Chinese, and my grandfather has Scottish blood. We’ve managed to trace our lineage back to the 1700s, and this year, about 30 of us from around the world are gathering in Edinburgh for a great family reunion.

“I believe the experience will be wonderful for my son, for he will be able to see where he came from and what his roots are,” says Lankester

Lee Shen-Li, a homemaker, keeps her sons rooted by encouraging them to participate in traditional festivities. Her older son, five-year-old Gavin, loves the lantern festival.

He enjoys eating mooncakes at his grandmother’s house after a family dinner, and playing with lanterns. Lee fully encourages these traditions, as she believes these experiences build character and personality.

“I don’t share those beliefs, but I want my kids to be exposed to the experiences so that they learn that other people have beliefs and that they should learn to respect them,” she says.

Experiences can also be created every day at home. Shanti’s work as vice-president of human resources at her company leaves her with little time outside of work. But on free Saturday mornings, her favourite thing to do with her husband and son is to lounge around in their pyjamas and linger over breakfast till lunchtime sometimes.

“It sounds indulgent, but I feel that I am teaching Carl how to relax and de-stress. There’s a place and time for everything. We don’t have many of these days, but whenever it happens, it is true together time,” she says.

Learning through immersion

Parents today are more savvy than ever, often exposing children to experiences beyond the classroom. Kids now go to cooking classes, artjamming classes, writing workshops and more, and it’s all in a day’s work, or rather, play. More families are also taking their children travelling and exposing them to different places, people and cultures.

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