School breaks are just around the corner and with that comes lots of family vacation plans. There is no doubt that traveling is great for the soul and creating a sense of open-mindedness, BUT, it's also a lot of work to research, plan, organize, coordinate, and pack not to mention the expense of it. Add little ones into the mix and your responsibilities/costs just multiply. For some families, a getaway during one of the peak travel times just isn't an option. We created a list of ideas to help keep you sane and your kids occupied during their school recess (without relying on screens), no matter what your budget constraints are. The upside to having a staycation is that you'll never get back to the grind thinking "I need a vacation from my vacation"!
1) Go Camping In The Living Room Or Backyard
Have a tent/teepee? Set it up in the living room or backyard (weather permitting, of course). For some reason, children LOVE doing ordinary things out of context! Bonus points if you construct a fort using good ol' blankets/chairs/boxes etc.
2) Set Up A Water Park In the Yard
If you're lucky enough to live in a warm climate, create a mini water park in your own yard. Set up a small pool, pull out the slip 'n slide, fill up a bunch of water balloons and make sure to create a lounge area for the adults complete with seating and beverages.
3) Treat Yo' Self
If the in-house tent situation is not your idea of a good time, consider heading to a local hotel, or finding an amenity-filled rental (from airbnb, or choose a family-friendly option from kid & coe) for a night or weekend. You can take advantage of having an in-house spa, sauna, steam room, pool and of course room service or delivery! We stayed at a luxury hotel for a weekend while our floors were getting refinished and I have to say- it was amazing. I got the benefits of having a weekend away without the stress of packing every.single.little.thing since my house was 10 minutes away and I wasn't catching a flight, not to mention that I was already familiar with where to eat/what to do since it was in my hood.
4) Use It As An Excuse To Eat Out
You're already saving all that dinero on not paying for transportation or hotel. For me, the ultimate form of pampering is having someone else take over all the kitchen duties. Go out to that restaurant that you reserve for the most special of occasions or hit up a bunch of your favorite spots throughout the week so it feels like a special treat.
5) Have A Playdate Rotation With Other Parents
Find other parents who are also scrambling to keep their kids entertained for an ENTIRE week and take turns having playdates at someone's house so that all the parents get 1 shift with the kids and the rest of the time free.
6) Set Up A Babysitting Share
Go in on having a babysitter or 2 watch all the kids so parents can go out to a kid-free meal together (or go to work!). It'll be extra money for the babysitter plus the kids can all play together and keep themselves entertained.
7) Take The Time To Be A Tourist In Your Own City Or A Neighboring City
I lived in NYC for nearly 8 years. The list of places I never went to is endless- the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, countless museums, etc. I'm sure the same is for many others in their respective cities or cities within driving distance. This is a great opportunity to finally go on that hike you've been meaning too, go see a show at the local theater, hit up the botanical garden/planetarium/aquarium, whatever it is that has been on your list of to-see's.
8) Organize A "Give Back" Day
Let's face it. One of the best ways we can invest in our kids is teaching them to think beyond themselves and about the world around them. Whether it's organizing a litter clean-up day at the beach, dropping a meal off at an elderly neighbor's house, or walking dogs at the local shelter, instilling a sense of kindness and community at a young age will pay off in spades as they reach adulthood.
9) Assign A Theme/Plan 1 Special Event Each Day
Give your kids something to look forward to the entire week by assigning different activities/themes each day, ie- day 1 is an ice cream social, day 2 is a special movie viewing, day 3 is a trip to the zoo, etc.
10) Put Down The Phone And Really Engage
Not all parents will be able to take the week off, but you don't need to in order to have quality time with your children. Set aside a day, or at least a portion of it to really focus on being present. What they want most is your time and attention. Whether it's having a movie marathon, playing boardgames, doing crafts together, or having a dance party, these are THE moments that they will always remember and appreciate.
Image source: Domino