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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Pulling Off the Perfect Staycation

By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy flickr
If you’re like most Americans, cabin fever has set in with a vengeance after two months of being cooped up with your family.  So, why am I writing a blog dedicated to glorifying staycations?  That’s because there’s a difference between loving and hating the greet indoors.  While a lot of you are still working from home, which forces many to deal with the distractions of kids cavorting in the background, there’s a way to keep from going off the deep end when you’re forced to spend most of your time indoors with the family.  The trick to turning Club Dread into Club Med is to understand the difference between family activities and forced labor. 
What about Babs?

Believe it or not, it was a sick child that taught me to embrace staycations before they became fashionable.  That’s because it was a flu that derailed a planned vacation for the entire family when I was only ten years old.  The ailing tot was my sister Barbara who was all of six at the time.  My mom and dad had planned to take us all on a two-week jaunt to the seashore that year.  After building up our hopes and dreams about the fun we were going to have romping in the surf and playing games on the amusement pier, wouldn’t you know it that Babs came down with a fever on the second day of our trip.  That meant reluctantly packing us all up in the family sedan for the two-hour ride home.
To say the rest of the family was crestfallen was an understatement.  After putting my sister to bed, my mom came downstairs to see the rest of us looking like lost puppies.  “I know this wasn’t exactly the vacation you had in mind.  But I for one am not going to let this little bump in the road spoil our plans.

My brother shot back, “What plans?   The closest we’re going to get to riding a roller coaster is watching you run up and down the stairs to take care of sis.”

“He’s got a point, hon,” dad added.  “I was looking forward to a couple weeks of fun in the sun.”
Mom put her hands on her hips and glowered at all three of us.  Then a smile slowly crossed her lips.  “If we can’t go to the beach, then the beach will have to come to us.”

“Say what?” I asked.

“Follow me,” was all my mother said before leading us out back.  Pointing at my sister’s sandbox, she said, “If you want sand, we have sand. While we may not have an ocean to dip our toes into, we have a wading pool.  And if you three will move the umbrella from the patio table to the lawn, I’ll go fetch the beach towels and a pitcher of lemonade.”

Image courtesy flickr
While the three of us thought the idea was crazy, once my mother suggested that dad fire up the barbecue, all of us got into the spirit of the thing.  For the better part of a week while my sister was down with a summer cold, the rest of the family spent most of our time in the backyard pretending we were at the shore.  When the sun went down, we went inside to watch movies and eat special snacks my mom whipped up.  A couple of nights later we even pitched a tent in the backyard.  My point is that with a little imagination, a staycation can be almost as good a vacation.  Here are some tips to help you pull it off:

1.      Rewrite Your Routine – Nothing spoils the fun faster than the same old, same old.  That means if you’re still working at home and the kids are bouncing off the walls, you need to change the channel by helping them plan some activities, even if you can only join in during your lunch break.  While most Millennials spend most of their time with their noses pressed to their smartphones, if you want to find something that the whole family can do together indoors, why not break out those board games you’ve got squirreled away in the attic?  Or, why not fire up the backyard grill instead of the microwave when it’s lunchtime.  The trick to getting the family out of their funk is to shake up everyone’s routine by suggesting a group activity that hasn’t been done to death.

2.      Focus on Food – Another thing the whole family can get excited about is food.  And I don’t mean takeout food.  One of the things I remember fondly from my childhood was pitching in to make homemade pasta or helping my mom ice a layer cake.  Even taco night can turn into a party as everyone fills their shells with spicy meat and cold, crisp veggies.  Since idle hands are the devil’s workshop, the more your family gets involved in food preparation, the less time they have to bicker.

Image courtesy flickr
3.      If you can’t go out, can you camp out? – If you have a tent, camping out in the backyard under the stars is a great way to beat cabin fever.  Even if you don’t have a tent, you can fashion one out of a tarp.  The trick is to make it seem as though you and your family are on a wilderness adventure even though your home is only ten feet away.  I suggest building a wood fire even if it’s only in your backyard barbecue.  Cooking over an open flame is fun for the whole family, especially if dessert consists of roasting marshmallows over the fire or making smores.  At night your neighbors aren’t running their lawnmowers and leaf blowers, so it’s possible to hear the crickets chirping, as well as waking to the sounds of birds greeting the dawn.

4.      Go off the grid – Make it a point for your family to turn off all their web-enabled devices for at least a few hours each day.  If the kids aren’t surfing the web or watching YouTube, you’ll have their undivided attention.  Then it’s up to you to suggest family-friendly activities to while away the time.  One of the things I’ve notices since the Coronavirus hit are families riding their bikes and taking long walks together every evening.  I’ve also seen a lot more kids out front shooting hoops or throwing a ball around than I did before the pandemic hit.

5.      Cross something off your bucket list. – As well as finding things for the family to do, a staycation is the perfect time to do something you’ve always wanted to do.  If you’ve been dying to get started on that novel you know you have in you, what could be a better time than when you’re cooped up at home?  Want to get started learning Yoga or Tai Chi?  You can find how-to videos galore on YouTube that show you how to get started.  If you’re a closet chef, this is the perfect time to try new recipes.  If you’re a DIY guy or gal, why not build something new?  I’ve noticed a lot of my neighbors have been doing remodeling jobs and cleaning out their garages during the past two months.  The trick to beating cabin fever is to make sure you engage in something you want to do.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at


  1. The last time I used my tent was when Hurricane Irma knocked out the power for 3 days.

  2. Feels like we have been on a Staycation for two months now. I for one am glad that the current COVIDcations is winding down so that I can get back to real vacations.


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