The Staycation of All Staycations
Summer is so close I can taste it. I’m looking forward to the day when my kids come home and the backpacks get put up, the lunch boxes are tucked away and there’s no more folders to sign. In our house, we’ve trekked through kindergarten, second and third grade this year, and in all honesty, this momma needs a summer break, too.
This summer we are fortunate enough to be able to go on a vacation as a family (stay tuned for an upcoming blog where I answer one of the questions I get asked the most: how do you pack for a road trip with a family of seven?!). But often when a long break comes along, including Thanksgiving and Christmas break, we look for unique ways to reconnect as a family here at home. This past Thanksgiving, we hit the staycation jackpot.
I was lying in bed one night, gazing into the week-long break ahead, wondering what we would do with all that time. And then it hit me: we would have the ultimate staycation.
This staycation proved to be different than any in the past. First, it would be longer. And it would have rules. But it would keep us on our toes and be the most interesting one yet...if we could pull it off.
The next morning around the breakfast table, I told my family my idea. Each day for the next six days a different person would pick what we would do. Each person in the family, sans the six-month-old, would get a day, and on that day, we would do whatever he or she wanted. The only two rules were that you couldn’t tell anyone what we were going to do that day until breakfast (that way none of my kids would try to talk each other out of their plans) and there could be no repeats. I put everyone’s name on a piece of paper and into a hat. We drew each one randomly and went in the order of the names picked.
The first one up to the staycation bat was the (then) two-year-old. She was more aware of Christmas than ever before and begged that we spend the day doing “Christmas!” We decided to go get our Christmas tree and decorate the house. We did this about a week earlier than normal, and everyone got in the spirit. I figured my two-year-old’s day might turn out to be one where we watched her favorite movie on repeat, but it surprised us all.
Next up was my third grader. He decided he wanted to venture to Market Street to meet Santa. We then walked to the nearby Starbucks and got hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream. When we got home, he picked out a Christmas movie and we piled on the couch to watch.
I was up next. I’m a Type-A control freak, so not being able to pre-prepare for my day stressed me out a little. I remember sitting at the breakfast table and telling my kids I only wanted two things from the day - to have them take a nice picture together and I wanted to feed their little sister her last feeding of the day on the beach. We jumped up and sprang into action. The kids put on nice shirts and still had their pajama bottoms on when we posed them for their picture. It turned out great. Not more than 30 minutes later we were packed in the car and headed to Galveston for the day. We explored the train museum, the Strand, and played on the beach at sunset, where I was able to feed their sister as the waves lapped the shore. We grabbed dinner at a local pizza place we stumbled upon and we headed home tired.
The next day was my second grader’s. He loves all things sports so he wanted a day where we played sports. We ventured to a local field and played football. He ran a few drills his dad taught him and then we came home to watch his favorite movie.
My kindergartener was next. He wanted to ride the train around Hermann Park. We had never done that before, so we piled in the car and headed to Houston. With our tickets in hand, we boarded the train that took us all around Hermann Park. After, we walked through the Japanese Gardens and took pictures at the fountains. Of course, we couldn’t head home without eating Shake Shack burgers.
On the final day, my husband wanted to hike Jones State Forest. We took a trail that led us over what my kids called “rainbow bridge” and explored wildlife. It was peaceful and beautiful. I think we were all tired from our week-long adventures and so after our hike my husband called for a half day of rest.
I wasn’t sure how my idea for a staycation would work, to be honest, but it ended up being one of the best breaks we have ever had. Each person surprised us with his or her choice of what we would do for the day; there was no complaining and no stressful pre-planning. We were swept up in the whimsy of a two-year-old and became tourists in our own community. We allowed ourselves the opportunity to be fully submerged in days devoted to what each person loves. It was a week we’ll never forget, and quite honestly, one that we won’t soon be able to replicate.
As summer comes a bit closer each day, I offer up our staycation story to spark your family’s own creative ways to staycation this summer. Perhaps give our method of “each person gets a day” a try and see what new adventures you stumble upon!