Staying at home with your kids can be loads of fun when you’re armed with ideas! You don’t need an extravagant budget or weeks to plan the perfect staycation with kids, either. Some simple tips are all it takes to get the at-home vacation the best family time ever.
You know your kids best and they probably have lots of favorites. Make the staycation a special time by letting kids take turns choosing favorite for different aspects of the staycation - such as choosing the meal or bedtime snack, or letting them wear their favorite outfit (even if it’s pajamas or a worn kids t-shirt. Let them choose favorite songs to listen to, movies to watch, or games to play.
Some cities have pre-planned walking tours you can take that are self-guided, but even if yours doesn’t you can still come up with a fund and simple walking tour for the kids. Map out a walkable area that has some historic, cultural, and fun places, and walk around visiting them and learning (or re-discovering the city). If you are in a rural area, see if there are any special but little known places, like covered bridges or historic sites to walk around and learn about. If you’re just staying in your neighborhood, rediscover it by finding the most interesting things about it and challenging one another on an afternoon walk.
From competitive travel sports to lots of academic pressure, modern kids have a lot on their plate. Get back to basics to some old school fun with your staycation. Go to places like the local roller skating rink, bowling alley, or arcade for some old-fashioned fun that never gets old. At the end of the night, check out a retro diner or restaurant that’s a long-standing pillar of the community for dinner. If actually going to the rink or alley is out, roller skate around the basement or create a simple DIY bowling set with 2-Liter bottles and a lightweight ball or kickball.
From local parks and hiking trails to ice cream shops and art festivals that are a hidden gem, there are likely lots of places in your town or local area that you haven’t visited before. If it’s hard to decide, try making a game out of where to go. Write down the different ideas for local places to visit, then glue or tape them on an old die or spinning board from an old board game. Kids can spin the wheel or roll the die, and the place to visit remains a mystery until it’s time to go, making it extra fun.
If leaving the house isn’t in the works, do it virtually. For example, for ice cream shops, look up the most famous ice cream shops in the country and watch YouTube videos about what makes them so great. If the die or spinner lands on the zoo, read an online book about different zoo animals or animals in other countries. Visit famous places by virtual tour. The best thing about a virtual trip is you can do it all in your matching family pajamas!
Kids love adventure, and it’s easy to do in your own backyard. Create clues for scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, or mini-quests. Kids use problem-solving skills to solve riddles or find clues, and you can use small items from the dollar store in the hunts or as prizes. For older kids, consider things like scavenger hunts with their phones, where they need to take pictures of the items they find to proceed with the hunt.
Most kids love making things, so why not become an artist for a day for your staycation? If you have an ample supply of craft items, you can pull out an assortment of items that you already have and challenge the kids to create a unique sculpture, 3-D painting, or another piece of artwork. Turn simple canvas storage bins into specialized works of art Or, get inspired by a famous artist and try as a family to recreate the painting or drawing together.
Today’s families are busier than ever, so chances are some board games on the shelf are loved but not forgotten. Pull out all the favorite board games and play a different board game each night of the staycation. If you don’t have a lot of board games, look for free game apps that involve the whole family, like trivia or guessing games.
Kids adore their pets, and there’s no reason they can’t be part of the staycation celebration, too. Get the animals involved by buying them some special treats, a cute pet outfit or sweater, or cuddling up with them on some cozy throw pillows while watching animal-inspired family films. Spend some time playing with them using their favorite toys, or create some simple DIY versions that will be fun for both people and pets.
Sometimes you just need to take it down a notch - after all, staycations are all about relaxation. Plan a simple picnic to have in your own backyard. When it’s done, lay down on some cozy comforters or fleece blankets and have fun cloud gazing. Share your imaginative ideas of what the clouds resemble for some fun and laughter.