Taking a break from the constraints of everyday life can open the mind to new and exciting interests. The heady mix of a release from responsibility with the excitement that comes with unfamiliar places, has, in the past, pushed my family and me to do new things. For example, a clear memory from around the age of seven or eight was having the courage to swim all the way into the deep end of the pool. I’ve noticed similar moments with my children since becoming a Dad.
This may seem trivial but I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, a recent survey Center Parcs carried out with 2,000 parents revealed that 42% of respondents believed taking time out from the day-to-day with a short break has led to their child growing in confidence. Furthermore, 47% believed that holidays tend to be a place where major milestones take place. Crawling (11%), walking (10%) and feeding themselves (9%) are just a few milestones among them. Not forgetting, of course, my adventurous swimming.
“42% of respondents believed taking time out from the day-to-day with a short break has led to their child growing in confidence”
It makes perfect sense. At home we are surrounded by people who know us to act in a certain way. If we are shy then our friends will expect us to be quiet, equally if we are outgoing and confident people will expect us to be the centre of the party. But remove us from our natural surroundings and the world once again becomes our oyster. Even adults loosen up while away; two-thirds of respondents said they felt a lot more confident while on holiday. Many were inspired to a new outdoor pursuit during a break.
For example, 23% of those trying something new had decided to go down a waterslide for the first time on a break at Center Parcs, while 10% tried rock climbing for the first time.
What can I do?
This is probably key to making the holiday experience a memorable one. It is these milestones that will make a holiday last a lifetime, rather than just a few days away. If your children are particularly shy, perhaps it would be a good idea to push them into a group activity with lots of children. You would be surprised at how outgoing they become in a new environment.
Alternatively, it’s a great opportunity to teach your children a valuable skill such as how to ride a bike or swim without arm bands – and Center Parcs is an ideal location. Pushing the boundaries with them by suggesting you take one or both of their stabilisers off while away may give them the drive they need to conquer their fears and embrace life on two wheels.
Another ‘first’ I have explored while on holiday with my children is to get them to try new foods. If you’re eating at a restaurant, order something for yourself that your children don’t normally like. And yes this may mean you will need to order a side of broccoli instead of something a triple-cooked chips, but think of the end goal! I often found using the incentive of eating adult food in an adult setting would often lead them to try just a little bit. Rajinda Pradesh is a great example of this, with the children’s banquet menu which allows the little ones to discover new flavours.
For new and unchartered activities, why not provide your children with a nature checklist of things to look out for during your next Center Parcs break? With this in hand they can then set about spotting these critters in their natural environment. You can download our Nature Notebook for a guide on what to expect in each of our five Villages. If you are visiting Whinfell Forest, keep an eye out for the rare and magical red squirrel as well.
Experiences like these are sure to live with them for a lifetime and will turn your midweek break from great to outstanding.