As the summer approaches and people are making plans to travel there is always pressure, even if minimal, to go somewhere. Especially if you have young kids. You might feel like you MUST take them somewhere or risk not being cool on Facebook like all the families posting their travel photos.
I can’t help but remember a very successful friend of mine who said he never knew what summer vacation was, for him and his family worked “up north” picking crops – la pisca – during the summer school break. I hope you noticed the words “very successful” because he is and not going to Disneyland or to a beach resort in the summer did not keep him from succeeding in life. What drove him was a strong, loving and hardworking family. That is what is all about.
It would be hard for kids today not to know about vacations thanks to social media and the unlimited promotions and TV commercials we have today. This must be difficult for parents and the reason I’m glad my kids are adults now. But all you need is a little creativity to have a great summer vacation.
For starters, do not go into debt. Do not max out your credit cards for a vacation. Your children will understand, I promise you. Instead, plan for something you can afford; a staycation for example. You’ll be surprised how much your area has to offer. Make it fun, be an explorer in your own and nearby cities.
What does it take to make these trips fun? Here are a few ideas to consider.
- Search for children’s museums you’ve never visited near you even in neighboring cities you can visit for a day. Do some research before visiting and give them a few questions to answer about the activities or exhibits they enjoyed. If they answer well, reward them with the most luscious dessert they can imagine. If you are concerned about the effects of sugar, let it be! Play some 50s, 60s, or 70s music, tell them about discotheques, peace-and-love, and dance the evening away. Why not play dress up? Tie-dye and a-go-go themes are popular right now.
- Search nature parks near your vicinity. Most of them offer programs for children during the summer. Go for a morning hike and take them for a good breakfast somewhere they like afterward. Some places offer hiking trail maps that look like treasure maps. Walk and pretend you’re hunting for a treasure. Find out what birds and mammals live there and see who can spot them first.
- There are plenty of children’s summer art workshops and those are always enjoyable. If none are available in your town, make your own. Buy inexpensive poster boards and paints and find some videos on YouTube of painting ideas for kids and voila! you have your own art workshop. Research famous painters, like Picasso or Monet, and share videos and photos of their work for inspiration. Tell your kids about the struggles these artists faced and how successful they became.
- If you live close to a beach, lake or river, plan a picnic. A family day out; a tradition that dates back many years. See who finds the most incredible seashell or builds the best sandcastle. You know the drill. Did you ever bury a watermelon in the wet sand? I did! It was meant to keep it cool.
- Camping at home. Use blankets pillows rugs and the like and build a campground at home in the backyard or indoors. If outside, let them spend the night and watch the stars with them. Download one of those apps that show names of constellations in real time. They’re fun! The magic words here are; “watch the stars with them.”
I could go on and on and you can too. Take your time, do some research and you will find amazing, informative and fun places near you. Bring out your inner child and play, play and play to your heart’s content. Plan a budget, cook at home and save, and have the time of your life. Yes, you can dance to that song too!
Never forget that the time spent with you is what your children will remember and not the hotels and fancy parks. Planning staycations takes effort and lots of creativity, but it is well worth doing it to keep your bank account healthy. You’ll have money to start the new school year right. Because in the end, education is the best gift you can ever bestow on a child. And if social media posts worry you – post plenty of photos of your family’s summer fun using all the tools offered by Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, etc. and realize, truly and deeply realize, how blessed you are to have each other.
I took this photo of a girl hopping around having fun at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park on May 5th, 2019.