Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Rest Stop

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Rest Stop

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I was standing in a lake in northern Wisconsin on a vacation with friends when it first occurred to me that I wanted to have more than two children. Jacob, then 6, was practicing a shaky crawl, and Liam, then 3, was wriggling about in the water as I tried to find the right balance between giving him freedom to kick and splash without allowing him to drown. I looked at my little boys and knew I didn't want this wet, slippery stage to end so soon.

Ten years and two adoptions later, I still find that family vacations are an opportunity to both reconnect and re-evaluate where we are going as a family. Parents say the success of a family vacation isn't as much determined by destination as it is by three crucial elements-time outside, time spent together, and time for new experiences.

Time outside, in beauty. Scientists are confirming what outdoor enthusiasts have long known--being outside is good for the soul. The American Psychological Association says spending time outdoors is beneficial to mental health and psychological development. Families whose vacations include hiking and swimming see the benefits: stress reduction, restored mental clarity, and an improved sense of well-being.

Julie and John, parents of two, rented a pop-up camper to see national parks in the western part of the United States. They mark that vacation as one of their best. "Seeing the grandeur of those national parks, the huge sequoia trees, the waterfalls, the unbelievably beautiful scenery, we definitely felt the presence of something bigger than us," Julie says.

Carol and Jamie, parents of four, travel just a couple hours from home to spend a week at a tiny cabin each summer. "The kids are busy fishing, swimming, playing in the sand," Jamie says. "There's extremely limited screen time, and it doesn't seem to even matter because the kids are so busy being in nature. …

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