I have four kids — two teens, 14 and 13, and two pre-schoolers, 4 and 3 — and this summer, we are rethinking the summer vacation. We are going on one small trip for a few days during the final week of summer (before school), so now it’s up to me to make the next 57 days “FUN!”; no pressure.
I have been racking my brain (sigh, does not take long) to come up with some exciting, family-friendly “staycation” ideas. But having such a different age range with the kids is making this more difficult than I thought. Typical staycations can involve camping in the backyard, visiting local museums and movie nights — and all of those are all well and good if all your kids are into them. But taking 2 pre-schoolers to the museum during a long weekend, when every other hapless parent has the same bright idea? A nightmare; frankly I would rather chew glass. So, my new staycation goal is to find activities where the older kids “help” me with the younger ones, while having fun at the same time, and I’ll still need to work a little and, of course, keep the house clean. No problem! (Send help!! Please! If you can’t send help, send money. Speaking of which…) I am looking at my teens as I type this, and realizing that I might have to resort to bribery. This staycation may turn out to be more expensive than an actual vacation.
Here are some of my ideas for having fun/making it through the next eight-or-so weeks. In September, I will let you know if my sanity is still intact. I know: Wow, such a cliffhanger. Cross your fingers that it goes better than the “Cooking Bacon on the BBQ Plan of 2003” (a whole other story)…
Here’s my plan:
Let the big kids pick the events
Put the kids “in charge,” from breakfast all the way to dinner, with fun things to do in between. Yes, “in charge” is in scare quotes, and we should be scared (you, too). No matter their age, all kids like power. But they also like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, picnics or just running through the yard kicking around a bunch of beach balls. The point here, is, I am going to make available all of these activities (and more), and let them decide what to do, when. Hmm: calls for a trip to the party store.
Get the kids to pick out all the toys they don’t play with anymore and set up a yard sale on the front lawn. Mix up a batch of Kool Aid or lemonade. They will have a blast. Let them know that the money they earn is theirs to keep — always a great incentive. This sale can last a day, a week, or however long you can tolerate it. In the end, take all the unsold toys and donate them to charity. A win-win, for everyone.
Yes, this is where the “PAY”cation part of this post’s title kicks in. Pay your older kids to help out with the younger ones. Make it like a “little” job for them. Bear in mind they will need some “older-kid time,” too, so reward them with a trip to the mall or movieplex to spend their (your) hard-earned cash. They say money is the root of all evil, but in my world right now it is the root of all sanity.
Hope you all have great vacations or staycations — regardless: PAYcations — this summer with your family and friends. Cheers!
Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.