07/19/2013 04:42 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2013

10 Tips for a Successful Staycation


If a vacation is not on the cards for your family this summer, then chances are you are planning a staycation. Having been there and done that, I'd like to offer some advice to help make your staycation enjoyable for the kids -- and sane for you:

  1. Plan ahead. I do this by maintaining a list of all the interesting places and activities in and around our neighborhood. I've been doing this ever since my kids were toddlers so that I wouldn't have to spend time thinking about what to do or where to go. As I embark upon a staycation week, I arm myself with a master list of options for destinations and activities.
  2. Use local resources to find timely events. I subscribe to these two site's email newsletters and follow them on Facebook and Twitter -- Boston Central, MommyPoppins. And I also check my local Patch's 5 Things You Need to Know each day. This way, I can learn about fun activities taking place on any given day. For example, we once discovered a really fun Jedi training session that was running at a nearby public library. It was hoot!
  3. Don't go it alone. Pair up with another family, if you can. By jamming into one car, you'll save on gas and the kids can entertain each other, rather than pester each other and annoy you with endless "are we there yet?' questions. Plus, you'll have a grown-up to converse with.
  4. Set a budget. It makes sense to figure out what your total budget for the week's outings and activities should be ahead of time. Or set a daily limit. Or simply check out admission costs before you leave the house so you don't get any nasty surprises. A couple of the places on my list were prohibitively expensive or charged entrance for adults. If you're in and around Boston, check out the great free options made possible by Highland Street's Free Fun Fridays in the summer.
  5. Check the weather before you head out. Nothing worse that getting rained on when you don't expect it! Make sure there are some indoor activities on your list, just in case there are unexpected showers.
  6. Say yes. As a Mom, I say no to my kids A LOT. During staycation, I try my hardest to delight them by saying yes as much as possible, within reason. (Enjoy it while it lasts, kids!)
  7. Ice cream. On a daily basis. It's summer, it's vacation so why not? When we vacation, we build ice cream into every day! Also works as a great motivation for good behavior.
  8. Mix up the routine. I am a big believer in routine but staycation is the perfect time to throw routine out the window. Past bedtime? No worries. breakfast for dinner? Yes please. Watch a movie while eating dinner? Sure. Wear PJs until lunchtime? Yup!
  9. Be silly. This applies to adults and kids. Kids are always delighted when silliness prevails!
  10. Reward yourself. It's hard work and patience-testing planning for, entertaining, driving and catering to your kids non-stop during a staycation. So go ahead, pour yourself a large glass of wine at the end of the day. Plan some much-deserved alone time once staycation is over. Meet a friend for lunch. Grab a mani/pedi.

Have a happy staycation.