Perhaps you feel you and your family really need a holiday. However, it seems too difficult to make all the bookings, pack up and go away. Taking a staycation could be the solution.
Youngsters enjoying a new play environment.
What is a staycation? Instead of going away for a vacation, you stay at home but treat the time like a proper holiday. You visit places within your own area and perhaps do some day trips. You may choose some pampering activities and make a point of relaxing. During the global financial crisis the idea of a staycation, became popular as a way of saving money.
Some people also consider going away from home but booking into a hotel in their own city or within a couple hours drive as a staycation, but I will be discussing the type where you sleep in your own bed.
What makes a staycation different from daily life? It is up to each household to decide how they want to spend their staycation but the idea is to have a change, relax and enjoy a break. Choose activities suitable for the age, interests and personality of your child or children.
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You might choose to -
See what activities are available at the local recreation centre.
Spend time at a cafe which has play facilities for children.
Take the children to a different playground, kindergym or other play facility that they haven't been to before.
Find a playground your children haven't explored before. Image by Marie Vonow
Pretend you are tourists and explore your own town. Pick up brochures from the local tourist centre or library and do an online search.
Check out a local museum.
Check out activities at your local library or one in a nearby location. There may be storytime or singing activities for pre-schoolers.
Take a picnic lunch to a park or playground you haven't explored previously.
Go to a movie. In summer there may even be a free outdoor cinema in your area.
Take it in turns to look after the children so each parent gets some 'me time'.
Buy takeaway meals more than usual as you would if you were away from home
Have meals out in a child friendly cafe or restaurant to have a break from cooking
Take photos of your activities as you would if you were staying away from home.
Advantages of a staycation
1. Saves money Perhaps you are short of cash. Your household may be coping on a single wage while one parent stays home to look after young children. There may be only one parent in the household. Bills may be high or there could have been greater than usual expenses. A staycation is a budget-friendly way of having a break from the daily routine and making special family memories.
2. Safe environment You have made your home child proof but there may be unexpected hazards in holiday accommodation. A new environment such as a rented holiday house can be stressful for parents if it has aspects which are hazards for their youngsters. Some youngsters are very inquisitive or will climb anything.
3. Less unsettling for young children While some babies and young children are adaptable to changes in routine, others aren't. Some will sleep anywhere, others won't. If your child isn't adaptable or is going through a stage of preferring their own bed, a staycation will be less stressful for the family.
Sometimes there is nowhere as comforting as your own bed
4. No need to book If you are staying in your own home there is no need to book ahead. There is no fear of missing out on accommodation due to a long weekend or school holidays.
5. No packing You don't need to pack. Especially when you have young children, there is so much to pack and you can be worn out before you leave home.
If you stay away from home you may pack food to save costs along the way. This means planning ahead, buying extra at the supermarket and perhaps packing an esky. Drat, forgot to get ice.
6. No long trips Youngsters can get bored and upset when there are long trips involved in a holiday.
7. Don't have to make arrangement for care of the pets When going away on holiday, sometimes you have to book your pets into boarding kennels which means dropping them off and picking them up on your return. It is an extra expense.
Disadvantages of a staycation
1. Temptation to do work activities Depending on the type of employment, there may be a temptation to drop in at work and tidy up a few details or check on how things are going. Because you haven't gone out of town, work may contact you. You may be more likely to check work emails because you don't feel like you are on holiday.
2. May end up doing usual household tasks Unless you plan out special events and relax you may end up doing nothing special. You may just follow much of your usual routine or even end up doing extras like spring cleaning.
Extended family and friends may not respect your staycation Unless you are firm about not being on call to help out during your staycation, others may ask favours.
Can be harder to relax than if you went away Because you are in your usual environment you may not feel like you are on holiday. You may feel guilty about having an afternoon nap, reading a book or pampering yourself while your partner looks after the children.
Is a staycation for you? With careful planning and determination to treat it like a holiday, a staycation may work well for you and your family. At the end of it you may feel more relaxed and rejuvenated than if you had travelled to a location several hours away and spent your vacation rushing from one tourist attraction to the next.