by: Amy Hannold,
247Moms Frugal Living Editor
“Love and time, those are the only two things in all the world and all of life that cannot be bought, but only spent.” –Gary Jennings
Staycations can be a special time where you can “soak” in your family love and togetherness. Plan to reserve that time for your family, with minimal interruptions from phones and computers. An enjoyable staycation means that you plan ahead, just as you would for a vacation.
What will we do? Don’t try to fit in too much into your “free time”, but do have a few alternative activities in mind for inclement weather, etc. Make the best use of your family time by planning to have most chores done ahead of time. Staycations should be fun for Mom and Dad too, so block the time out from projects and schedules as best you can.
What will we eat? Have a meals planned so that you don’t have to leave home at the last minute. Perhaps this is a good time to experiment with freezer meals, crockpot meals, or some new recipes! Collect coupons for area restaurants or find the places that serve “all day breakfast” or “early bird specials”. Restaurant.com or group buying sites like Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com can help with this.
1. Themes can be a great planning tool. If you don’t know where to begin with “what to do”, think of some fun themes. “Wild West”, “Pajama Day”, “Treasure Island”, “Outer Space”, or “Tea Parties” can be a start. Choose settings from your favorite movies/books or history. Once you have a theme, you have something to research, and from there create fun activities and menus.
2. “Map-Quest”: Choose an area near you that you’ve wanted to visit. Contact them now for upcoming events and attractions. Read their local paper online together and each person contribute some fun ideas. Depending on your time and budget, an overnight stay or all-day drive may be included. Discover a new, fun destination!
3. “Days, Designated”: Look around your home and you’ll easily come up with activities. You can divide your staycation into “Family Projects”, “Fix-Its”, “Board Games and Family Movies”, “Creative Time”, etc. Get the whole family involved in the planning and everyone will have something to look forward to. Focus on the positive of doing “work” during vacation — think of how much nicer/easier life will be once you return to work and school. Consider an organization project, de-cluttering (for an upcoming yard sale?), or doing some mending. Sharing homemaking skills with your kids is valuable.
4. “Just Me and Mom (or Dad)” Set aside some of your staycation to spend one-on-one time with each of your children. Work together on planning some special activities.
5. “Helping Others”: Your family can find some one or an organization in your community to serve during your staycation. Helping a neighbor with yard work or donating a few hours to a local community center will be time well spent.
6. “The Element of Surprise”: Parents, do leave a little of the fun a secret – up until it’s time to go. Once you’ve completed the checkers championship, load the family up for a trip to ice cream! You could decide to keep the destination of your day-trip a secret as well. Create clues and or a scavenger hunt for older children to learn something about where they are about to visit.
7. “Our Visit to______” Visit a country on another continent – without leaving home. Costumes, storytelling, foods, music, movies, and books can bring a foreign country closer. Make postcards, newspapers, menus, and other parts of where you are for a day. Learn a bit of the language or some fun traditions of that country. Share your “visit” with others when you invite them to dine with you or share in a fun activity.
8. “Carpool, Plus!” Get a group together from school or elsewhere and caravan to local destinations. The benefit is a fun shared experience, and perhaps a group discount on admission prices.
Wherever your staycation takes you, be sure to create lasting memories. Take photographs, write stories, save souvenirs, record your adventures onto audio/video, etc. Spending creative time in the company of your children will mean priceless memories for years to come.