My kids and I were getting restless for a trip and a vacation. Off and on for a few months were trying to make a plan to go on a trip. Our budget is a bit strict, and the schedule tight at times, so it just wasn’t working out. So a few weeks ago we decided to take the days between midweek service and Sunday and turn our home into a bed and breakfast. Here is what we did to turn our ordinary location into a vacation with little time and almost no spending:
On Monday morning, I asked the kids what made a hotel fun and special. They gave me some answers that I could have predicted, sugary breakfasts, cuddling on the bed, fun places to visit, clean rooms with made beds, nice towels, time with Mom and Dad, no TV; But they also shared some parts of vacation that surprised me, answers like fresh air, open windows, picnics and going for a hike.
Tuesday, I took the list and got the house ready. It wasn’t much of a feat, we’ve been pretty decent at housework (this is new for me, and I’m loving it), but to make meals easy for the week I prepped some easy foods. I boiled eggs for breakfasts and lunches, made potato salad, hummus dip, salsa, a ton of guacamole, fruit dip, precut veggies and cheese, and made some roasted potatoes for reheating.
On Wednesday, the kids were to check in, Jeff had cups of Jello ready and a reception desk set up. The kids had a sign in sheet and were assigned room numbers and room ‘keys’. Jeff made his signs on the computer, and decorated the ‘keys’ with stickers of the kids’ favorite characters. I had their clothes for the week selected and packed in small suitcases. All extra clothes hidden out of reach and 90% of the toys stored away as well. The week was prepared for, and the environment swept of the possibility of making messes.
At breakfast time we took our time and enjoyed just being with each other. Everyone sat at the table together like we used to do at the thousandish hotels we stayed in on deputation. At breakfast we reviewed the schedule, and had one big item on the docket for each day.
Day 1: Check in 9:30 pm (after church)
Day 2: Aviary, packed lunch, rest at home, grill dinner at home
Day 3: Geocache, Local indoor water slide park, make pancakes and smoothies
Day 4: Book launch reading ~ The Selfish Shongololo, geocaching, lunch out ~ Italian
Day 5: Church day. Grill boerewors, icecream and a movie ~Jumanji
We had some ground rules for behavior. The kids were so excited they were thrilled to make their beds and do their chores (besides their room they each have one morning chore) before it was time to have family breakfast. My most important rule was not to be distracted with media. No TV usage during the staycation (besides movie night) and very little phone usage while the kids were up.
It is funny how they responded to the family staycation, since most of the things we did we do almost every day. There was an entirely different perspective on meal times, chores, and outings just because we said it was special family time. The schedule was pretty light for a vacation, they even still napped on two of the days, but there was no time for fighting and whining. When any issues came up they quickly put out the fires to retain the air of staying on a special vacation.
All told, I think it was a very relaxing few days. Jeff and I both kept up with the chores to keep the guesthouse feel, and we all worked together as a family. It was a romantic week, we produced little waste, and spent very little money for a vacation. I think what my young children appreciate most from vacation is the relaxed diet and undivided attention. What surprised me the most was that we were able to check off their bucket-list for a vacation without all the frills, travel or expense. In the future, even if we have the means for a trip centered vacation, I’ll have to remember that less is more.