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Have you ever asked yourself what is the most important aspect of a vacation?  Is it the excitement of exploring a new place or tasting new food?  Or is it the thrills of trying new activities and meeting new people?  Yes, those are important elements but the most important one has to be the sharing and recalling of many priceless moments together with the loved ones for years to come. 


It is well worth the money because such memories have a magical bond to bring the family together.  Fortunately, we don’t always have to spend lots of money to create many more such moments.  Just the other day, my family and I went for a quick dinner at a nearby restaurant.  During the meal, we talked, discussed, joked and laughed, followed by occasional fun poking of another family member.  We had so much fun and everybody was left smiling.


To borrow the MasterCard tagline, the situation can be summarized as this: Hailam noodle, Kampung fried rice and Char Kuey Tiaw, RM40; juices and drinks, RM20; sharing, teasing, laughing and bonding – priceless!

Spending money or time?


Upon closer look, it was not the money we spent that creates those priceless moments.  It was the time that the parents sincerely allocate exclusively for their children.  They don’t let other worldly concerns to distract them from talking, playing and bonding with the little ones. 


We can take comfort in knowing that one does not need tonnes of money to have fun with the family via vacations or eating outs.  There are plenty of activities that will do the trick.  Activities like walking in the park while lovingly chasing one another, taking them to the playground in the afternoon or even just spending a quiet time together at home after a hard day’s work do bring many priceless moments too. 


What matters is our sincerity and efforts to make it happen.  Yes, we must plan for these seemingly spontaneous activities because our heavy work schedules or a long to-do list can easily rob our time away from our children.  By now, you should already have a solid plan or even booking for the June holidays.  We should already know and discussed the family activities for the next weekend.  Some may argue that the meticulous planning will spoil the spontaneity, but I would say it is still better than ending up not having a place to go or an activity to do.


There is nothing wrong with planning to be happy because it is actually part of the happiness itself.  Planning and anticipating for a vacation, for example, is half the fun already.

Lasting memories or outdated gadgets?


Some will find happiness in chasing the latest gadgets and collecting a closet full of branded clothing.  True, all these will make on to be happy, but the question is, for how long?  Studies have indicated that while chasing for material things are fun, the happiness would not last very long.  Even if you are getting your dream car, that “new car” feeling will wear off within a year.  What more if the materials we are chasing are things like hand phones, latest television set or any other electronic gadgets whose obsolescency is being planned for a year only before new models are dished out. 


A better strategy is to spend money, or time for that matter, on things or activities that will bring the lasting memories.  A good, reliable camera should easily pass this test.  And so does spending time with the children to play hide and seek on a nice sunny weekend.  Put aside your care and worries and just join them to run around the house.  Pretty soon, you will forget everything else but the many smiley faces surrounding you.  In between the fun and laughter, many priceless moments will somehow be formed. 


Those moments will forever be etched in our memories, serving as a tonic when we are feeling down.  Just recall those times again and very soon we will be motivated again to face the world.  That is the one thing that the obsolete gadgets or outdated fashions cannot provide. 


Therefore, take some time today to go ahead and plan for those fun activities.  While doing so, always remember that priceless moments are created when one spends the time, not money, with the loved ones.


Zaid Mohamad is a Certified Parental Coach and the bestselling author of Smart Parents, Brighter Kids and Smart Parents, Richer Kids.  Log on to www.SmartParents.com.my or write to him at zaid@smartparents.com.my.



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