It’s Spring Break time. Kids have Spring fever and are itching to get out and have fun in the warmer weather, but what if your budget or time are too tight for a full-on vacation? Not to worry. You can still have fun with a well-planned staycation. The key is to approach your stay at home week as you would any other vacation. Organize activities that will get your kids excited, spare your wallet and get them out from behind their digital device or the TV. Here are five great ideas for the week off of school.
#1 Cousins Camp
This is a great idea for parents who, for whatever reason, can’t take the week off work. The idea behind cousins camp is that you consolidate all the cousins – your brother’s and sister’s kids plus yours for some intense family fun. You can either get a grandparent to host the camp or take turns with your siblings by each taking one day off work. Cousins camp can be a day camp activity or, if grandparents are farther away, a sleep-away camp. Grandparents will consider it a treat to spoil your kids for a week, and your children can bask in the attention of adults they may not get to see as often. Load them up with board games, art supplies and whatever else the host family member needs to keep the kids busy.
#2 Geocaching Extravaganza
If you can take some time off during Spring Break but want to save up your money for your splashier summer vacay, Geocaching is a great cost-saving activity. You can do it every day all day or for a few hours here and there between other activities. There are literally millions of geocaches all over the US. Load up a cooler with bottled drinks, take a bag of snacks or a picnic lunch, download the app and go. If you’ve never tried Geocaching, you’ve got to get into this GPS scavenger hunt game. You’ll find hidden caches in the grocery parking lot down the street, off the trails at a nearby park and on mountain tops.
#3 Ticket to Ride
For those that don’t live near public transportation or rarely use it, this is a cheap way to do something different. Head into town, take a ride on the subway or bus and head to a great park you’ve been meaning to check out. Or head to a hip kid-friendly eatery in a part of town where you rarely venture. You avoid traffic, get mobile and let your kids experience something new. If there’s no public transport near you or you use it every day, take a train adventure. Pack a backpack for a day trip and head to a nearby city you’ve never seen. You can hop an Uber or bus for local sightseeing, have a picnic then catch the train back home.
If you’re concerned about your kids being sedentary over Spring Break, this idea can get them out and moving their bodies every day. And if you’re a desk sitter for work, it’ll be good for you too. Design some at home Olympic event ideas, host an opening ceremony by letting everyone parade in their best athletic gear and then get started! Print out ribbons from the web or buy some cheap ones from the local party store. Pair up little kids with bigger ones so everyone wins. Eschew the traditional 100 yard dash in favor of a 10 yard dash wearing mom’s high heels or long jump with an egg under each armpit. Make sure everyone wins awards. And if it rains, add water sports to the schedule!
#5 Hotel at Home
Even if you can’t make it to a hotel for the week, you can set up a cool experience at home. After all, kids love being spoiled and pampered (don’t we all?). Add a pile of throw pillows to your kid’s bed, give them fold down service, add a chocolate to their pillow and leave room service menus hanging from their door. Serve breakfast in bed, run a bath with a mound of bubbles, and try out a silly British accent to make it more fun. Offer afternoon tea or juice in a champagne flute. If you’ve got several kids, assign one kid a day to get the hotel experience and put the others to work as staff – this will give them all a kick. Save the last day for yourself and have them pamper you with a pedicure and treats.
Your kids will appreciate the effort and as long as you create buzz and excitement around your staycation concept, you’ll get enthusiastic buy-in from your kids. And if you’re stuck at work all week, but still want your kids to have an awesome time, consider a day or half-day camp for the week devoted to their special interest.