The Staycation: The Cure for the Seasonal Blahs

kids with water guns My sister and her children anxiously await spring and summer vacations every year, counting down the days to freedom from homework, packed lunches, and bus schedules. My sister dreams of the euphoric days she plans to spend with her children, reading, cooking, and crafting together.

Inevitably, though, her dreams fade about two weeks after summer break starts and reality sets in. The kids sleep in until 10, leave bowls of cold cereal all over the kitchen, and spend the days whining that they’re bored.

Last year, she decided to try something new: the staycation. The staycation is not a new concept, especially in recent years as fuel prices have climbed while our wallets have shrunk. But turns out, it was the perfect solution to her mid-summer angst. My sister’s week-long staycation cost less than a weekend away, and her kids are still talking about it.

Think you’d like to try staycationing? Read on for some tips and advice on creating the perfect vacation at home:

  • Schedule some special events with the neighborhood kids. Host a slumber party or water party in the backyard. These activities don’t require a lot of time or money, but they rank high in a kid’s memory. Buy some water guns, water balloons, and a box of popsicles, and you’ve just created a fabulous afternoon for less than $20.
  • Don’t forget the food. Great food is a mandatory part of every vacation, including a staycation. Make homemade pizzas and root beer floats one night and fondue the next. Or order Chinese and sit on cushions on the floor to eat it. Eat dinner at an old-fashioned pizzeria, burger joint, or barbecue. Set up a safe outdoor lp gas fire pit with slate top or wood-burning fire pit furniture set and dine al fresco.
  • Spend the day at the zoo. Or better yet, sign up for classes. Many zoos and museums offer classes for all ages during the summers. Libraries also offer great summer programs, or check out the offerings at your community’s cultural event center.
  • Put on a play. On one spring break, my siblings and I produced our version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. We spent several weeks devising costumes from odds and ends we found around the house and painted cardboard cutouts for props. We invited the entire neighborhood to our backyard performance.
  • Dump the technology for a few days. Turn off the computer, television, video games, and iPods, and focus on old-fashioned fun. Play boardgames, bat a few balls at a nearby baseball field, or go for a bike ride.
  • Remember the “night games?” Many children used to play games outdoors until the last embers of sunlight faded. If your kids have never participated in this childhood ritual, it’s time to introduce them. Try old favorites like “Kick the Can”, “No Bears Out Tonight”, and “Hide and Seek.”
  • Do nothing. When you’ve had your fill of activity, hang around. Read stories together, take a nap, lay on the grass and watch the clouds. Make some popcorn and watch a movie together on the couch.
  • Make sure your boss and clients know you’re on vacation. In fact, it’s probably better not to mention that you plan to spend the week at home lounging around the house. The last thing you want is a bunch of frantic emails and phone calls from work. They’ll survive until you get back.

So when spring and summer come around, avoid the long airport lines and expensive hotels, and vacation at home. You’ll make memories without breaking the budget, and find a vacation that is truly relaxing. Your kids will thank you!

Photo by AdrienneMay

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