7 Steps to a Relaxing Backyard Stay-cation

Ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation? Isn’t the purpose of a vacation to rest and relax and have fun with your family? Instead, we often wind up more stressed and exhausted from trying to cram in more than is humanly (or financially) possible! In fact, more often than not,  just the thought of preparing for a family vacation is enough to send me into a tizzy! That’s why our family often opts for the far more restful and relaxing “backyard stay-cation.”

Most of us have at our fingertips oodles of area activities we never get around to enjoying. People may even come from miles around to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of your neck of the woods. A backyard stay-cation gives your family the chance to finally enjoy those yourselves. And, with all the money you’ll be saving, you may even be able to splurge on a few of the more pricey ones.

Tips for a Successful Backyard Stay-cation

1. It’s a family affair. By letting each family member get in on the action and contribute ideas, everyone will get excited about it. Have each child and parent suggest two or three activities they would like to do. Then determine how many days you will be on vacation and have everyone vote for that number of activities. (You may want to have them vote for a few extras, in case you can fit more than one activity into one day. But, be careful not to cram in too many. Remember, you want this to be a restful and relaxing vacation.)

2. Have Plan B ready to go. Be flexible with your schedule. I have often had to work around the weather and other “unforeseeables,” in order to fit everything in.

3. Alternate activities. I find the key to planning a successful stay-cation is alternating between active days and what I call “couch-potato days.” For example, if we go whitewater rafting one day, the next day we’ll sleep in, take in a movie in the afternoon, and follow it up with a visit to an ice cream stand. You may even want to schedule a little down time each day. This helps everyone relax and have more fun.

4. Simplify mealtime! I plan easy crock-pot meals, pizza delivery, cook-outs, and KFC to be enjoyed for dinner at a scenic location. If you plan ahead, freezer meals are a handy go-to after a busy day of fun.

5. No cleaning allowed. Don’t worry about the house being immaculate. Remember. You’re on vacation! No making beds either. Your kids will love this! If it bothers you, just have them close their doors. If you absolutely must have some semblance of order, enlist everyone…even Dad….in a 15 minute speed clean to tidy the main, family living area. I personally can relax more when my home is tidy. So, I usually assign small, daily tasks to each family member. I even assign the to-go lunch duty. That way, by the time I’m showered and dressed we’re ready to go, and I can relax in a calm restful space when we return. Hey, Mom’s on vacation too!

6. Ditch the cell phones and all hand-held electronic devices. Need I say more? We’ve even been known to turn off the land line.

7. Keep it all-in-the-family. You may want to invite a family over one night for a cook-out or game night, but limit those sorts of things. Spend time together as a family. You and your kids have the rest of the year to spend time with friends.

Some ideas to get you started:

Go swimming
Take a hike.
Go on a picnic.
Take in a a movie.
Go whitewater rafting or tubing on a river.
Have a craft day.
Go horseback riding.
Roast hot dogs and marshmallows.
Take a tour of a local manufacturing facility.
Make your own bubble solution and blow bubbles (your family dog will enjoy this too).
Attend an outdoor concert or theater production.
Make a family video.
Go camping.
Go berry picking. Make a pie or pancakes when you get home.
Make some ice cream or go to an old-fashioned ice cream stand.
Read a great book together.
Go on a bike ride.
Put out some coloring books and crayons and have a coloring “party.”
Go on a treasure hunt.
Have a girl’s spa night while the “men” do “manly things.”
Build your own sundaes.
Have a tea party or go to a tea room.
Go to a baseball game.
Have a family game or movie night/pop some popcorn.
Go to a water park.
Play croquet, horseshoes, or other backyard game.
Have a fondue night.
Go bowling.
Visit area attractions and museums.
Tye-dye T-shirts.
Attend a local event.
Make some homemade lemonade.
Go out for a meal.
Go to a drive-in movie theater.
Have a cook-out.
Invite people over for a bonfire.
Play mini-golf.
Work on a puzzle.
Go gem mining or shell collecting/organize and label your treasures.
Have kids show their appreciation by making Mom and Dad breakfast in bed or a romantic candlelight dinner.

Wishing you fun memories as you embark on your family’s backyard stay-cation!