One of the benefits of my day job is it comes with a nice chunk of vacation time. At one point in my life that was an amazing advantage. Now, however, I find free time to just be a Petri dish for anxiety. Being a working mom has a few advantages in that most days we are programmed to survival mode. The minutiae of life are the farthest things from our minds. The downside to that is when vacation commences the details we often ignore come swooping in on us like a gigantic black fog…the Harry Potteresque dementors of middle class mommyhood.
Suddenly every little thing we’ve ignored for months becomes gigantic. The spot on the wall, the stain on the rug, the fact that the dog hasn’t been groomed in ages. It becomes overwhelming. How did we survive all these months that I’ve been so neglectfully keeping a roof over our heads and food in our bellies?
Many of my co workers get to escape during these breaks. I’ve lost count of how many are in Disneyworld as I type this. I, however, am not. My kids are just too young to justify such an expense that they would scarcely remember, that and the fact that Snakes On A Plane would be Bambi compared to confining two three year old boys in a flying tube. So lest I spend my vacation a slave to home maintenance and doctor appointments, I’ve devised the Ultimate Staycation plan. Amidst the chaos of catching up on, and trying to ignore, the usually overlooked details, I have a plan to enjoy almost every indulgence I would at a resort…without the packing, the price, and the TSA detaining my children :
Strategy 1: Itinerary
Just like getting to a destination involves commitment and work, so does staycationing. You have to get your itinerary together and promise yourself to complete it. The problem you face on a staycation is that you are in your home surrounded by your everyday obligations…sans work. It is easy to fall into housework mode, or, even worse a lazy pattern of time wasting on social media. If you social media time waste from a beach it’s still vacationing…if it’s on your couch…well, you just saw a couple of hours to accomplish some pretty cool stuff pass you by. Your itinerary should be a schedule of all the things you like to do when you are away and have the venues and times in which you can do them locally.
Strategy 2: Relaxation
One of the benefits of going away is you can’t fret over laundry, bills, and polishing the stainless steel. You are removed from all of it therefore making it easy for you to relax. Harder to do that at home with all that crap staring right at you. Also hard when your family and friends know you are around, thus asking favors and commitments of you impeding on your downtime. You are going to have to find ways to relax. I recommend going to a spa for a body treatment and a massage. Do this at the beginning of your staycation to set the tone for the rest of the week. Continue that spa feeling by spending some time each day meditating or, my personal fave, creating your own steam shower by turning the water all the way hot, aiming it at the wall, closing those shower doors, and breathing.
Strategy 3: See a Show
It’s very common to be entertained while vacationing away. It’s fairly easy to recreate that while staycationing. On the high end you can see a Broadway type production or concert, on the low end community theater or an open mic night at your nearest comedy club. Staycationing with kids? Seeing a show geared toward them counts. Get creative if you are on a budget. Is the local high school running a production? What about a matinée at the movies? The point is get out and watch something happen!
Strategy 4: Don’t Cook
Cooking involves shopping, planning, and cleaning…and unless it’s pleasurable shopping…we will get to that…none of those things scream vacation to me. Spend the week dining out, preferably with a cocktail, and ordering in. Budget super tight? Pre cook and freeze your meals for staycation week the week before and use paper and plastic!
Strategy 5: Gamble
Gambling is a huge part of vacationing for many, but if it’s not your thing feel free to skip this section. I will be the first to admit that I love to play slot machines, especially the new fangled ones that work like video games that pay you money…sometimes. Gambling is no longer restricted to Vegas, Atlantic City, cruises, and Native American Reservations, now there are racinos and even online casinos…some offering free games you play for the fun of it! So carve out a night to take your chances, even if it’s in your own living room! Who knows you may win big and be able to take an away from home vacation. Just please don’t make it a habit.
Strategy 6: Sight See
When visiting a new place we love to explore the area, but when was the last time you explored your own backyard? We often take for granted what is available to us, especially when we live near a big city. Imagine you are a tourist in your own stomping ground. You’ll realize how many attractions are at your disposal that you’ve ignored!
Strategy 7: Buy a Souvenir
Shopping is a vacation pastime. Tour companies know this and often have deals with retailers in which they bring their relaxed vacationers in by the droves. Plan a staycation shopping day, but just to purchase something you want. This is not a trip to Sears to get that new dishwasher you’ve been contemplating. This shopping trip is purely for the joy of browsing and picking up something just because you like it. If the weather is nice go to an outdoor mall or better a craft fair or flea market.
Strategy 8: Go Swimming
…or at least wear a bathing suit. Most vacations are to warm weather locales. Ski bunnies are far outnumbered by beach bums for good reason. Chances are if you were taking that out of town vacay you’d be packing your swimsuit so find a reason to wear it. Can you get a day or week pass to a gym with pool? Do any of the local chain hotels offer pool passes? How about the Y? It sounds ridiculous but just the act of putting that suit on and reading a book on a towel in your living room will put your mind in vacation mode. Play ocean sounds in the background and sip a fruity cocktail.
Strategy 9: People Watch and Read
Watching people and reading books are totally vacay activities for me. Rarely do I have opportunities for either which means it is definitely part of my Ultimate Staycation plans. So get on a park bench or head to Starbucks. Sit, relax, and let your mind wander about who and what you see. Bring your favorite book or magazine with you.
Strategy 10: Get that Tan
The biggest tell tale sign of vacationers is that glow from all the abundant sunshine they have soaked in on their travels. Who says you can’t get that on your staycation too? Moisturizing with a product like Jergens Natural Glow during your staycation week will have you looking fresh from the beach by the time you are back to work. Want a faster fix? Go back to the spa you started your staycation at and get a spray tan.
Recipe: Staycation Drink: The Drunk Arnold Palmer
This is my fave staycation drink. I love it because it’s easy to make and the ingredients will last all week:
Iced tea I use Arizona
Pink lemonade I prefer Newman’s Own
Fill a highball with crushed ice. Pour a shot of Malibu on he bottom. Fill halfway with lemonade. Fill remaining with iced tea. Garnish with fresh mint.