When our kids were younger we were short on cash and shorter on energy for extended vacations. My husband worked long hours away from home. That meant the kids and I would spend many hours together. The summer stretched before me.
I needed a plan. Something that incorporated their chores, encouraged them to get along, and built in fun. Not much to ask. Right?
What we needed was a STAY-CATION.
Something inexpensive near home we could do in one day.
My husband and I decided how much we could spend. We decided how often we could have a family Stay-Cation with him involved, and how often it would fall to me alone. We brainstormed ideas to do at home. We researched places to go within city limits as well as a few in the surrounding countryside. Next we called a family meeting to encourage the children to invest in our idea. Below are suggestions based on our experience.
Initial Stay-Cation Planning Session
Plan your family meeting with a favorite meal.
Give everyone plenty of advance warning to clear his or her social calendar.
No excused absences (unless someone is sick in bed—you could always meet in their room).
Introduce the Stay-Cation idea (explain your reasons for this form of vacation).
Each child takes a turn to list his or her ideas in each of the following categories:
Favorite Food or Restaurants (within your area)
Places to Visit (within your area)
Activities (what you’ll do wherever you go for the day)
Activities to do at home
Something they’d like to learn how to do
(These were often done individually unless all the children had the same objective.)
Write each idea on a separate 3 x 5 card.
Show your children you value their ideas, whether they are feasible or not.
You as the parent, have the final say, but reserve your judgment for later.
Save some ideas for the future.
Try to think outside the box.
Implementing the Plan
Decide ahead of time which child will draw the card for the specified day (our kids took turns).
Decide which category or categories they’ll draw from for that Stay-Cation Day. We needed advance preparation for some outings. Other ideas were implemented on short notice.
We used Stay-Cation Days as an incentive to encourage our children to work together and complete daily jobs because we believe children need chores to develop healthy skills. Someday they will be adults. As they complete tasks successfully it raises their feelings of self-worth. They also learn they are a valued and important member of the family.
Stay-Cation Days only occurred when everybody’s Daily Job List was completed for the week and enough points had been earned for the activity or excursion.
Everybody needed a good attitude and a little positive peer pressure certainly helped. If one child dragged his or her feet, someone else was sure to say, “Hurry up! Get your jobs done so we can go!”
Remember how Tom Sawyer got all those other boys to whitewash the fence for him?
I had a walking talking Tom. He was quite adept at getting his younger sibling to help. “If you help me with my jobs now, I’ll help you with yours later,” he said.
The younger child agreed and worked faithfully (and I might add, harder than Tom did) to complete the chore. Of course afterwards, when it was time to work on the younger child’s job, Tom had disappeared.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you handle that situation? Please feel free to share in the comments below so others can benefit from your ideas.
Until next time…Travel Light,
© 2016 SuZan Klassen