We opted for a stay-cation this year, instead of taking the kids somewhere more exciting like the beach. Mostly because our air conditioner died this spring and we had to replace the whole compressor unit, which used up our vacation fund. But also because at 4 and 6, the kids can have just as much fun at home with activities from the dollar store, as an expensive vacation they probably won’t remember years from now. Since I’m not usually at home with the kids, I was nervous about what we’d do, how many fights would break out, how we’d survive a week at home together. So, I scoured Pinterest looking for ideas of at-home activities and made a list of local venues we could visit. I had grand ideas of writing a couple of Pinterest-worthy posts about this great vacation week. Posts like “5 Fun Backyard Activities for Under $5” or “5 Splurge-Worthy Activities in the Dallas-area for Kids”. Only our reality has been more like something from those Pinterest-failure posts! I tried an afternoon of bubble fun in the backyard. Tried to make bubble liquid in a baby pool, but ended up issuing an SOS to friends for better bubble recipes that would actually hold together a bubble.
Tried a cool-looking milk-painting project, but the kids just stirred up the colors into a brown muck. (It was a good use for old milk, though.)
We went to the Perot Museum in Dallas, but spent way too much money ($50 for pizza and sandwiches in the museum cafe!) and I think our kids were really too young for most of it. The 3D movie about Monarch butterflies was a huge hit, though! It is a fantastic museum, but not sure it was worth the $80 I spent on tickets.
What they loved even better was the playground at Klyde Warren Park. And they thought it was the most fun to ride home naked after playing in the water features (since I didn’t think to bring swim suits, extra clothes or even a towel).
So, what is our vacation reality? It’s real – moments of fun and learning, squeals of laughter, lots of playing in the water to cool off in this Texas summer, but also a fair share of tears, fighting, complaining… The usual fare in a household of 4 and 6 year olds. Mostly, it’s a week out of school, camp and work. A rare week where all four of us are home and not overly-structured. A week to just chill out and make memories of time together as a family. (Not to say I won’t be wishing for my own vacation after this week!) We’re just half-way through our stay-cation week, so still more projects to try, more activities to explore, more fun and laughter to share and probably more tears to be cried. Maybe I’ll write those posts after all – or maybe I’ll have better stories about how I learned to manage my vacation expectations and love our time together, even when it didn’t measure up to my expectations. What are you doing this summer? How are you managing your vacation expectations and learning to love the reality of real-life this summer?
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Sharing with: Coffee for your Heart, The High Calling, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Friendship Friday, Fellowship Fridays
Hi! I am Jeri... says
My summer vacation reality it planning to go swimming only to have my tween throw a fit because she can’t find a friend who is available to go too and she doesn’t want to swim with her lame little sister and mother. Ugh! As if… So my 7 yo cries and says her sister ruined her day, so now we are not going to the pool. That was just this morning. How many more days of summer vacation? Lol
I hear you!!! We’re 5 days past my little one’s last nap – and still 5 more days of “vacation” left (he’ll only nap at daycare anymore…) Trying to enjoy the moments of fun between the fits, even if they’re brief!
Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk says
Learning to manage vacation expectations – yep, that’s the KEY. Good for you for diving in and appreciating the fun. We did a stay-cation a few years back and I remember it still (I convinced my husband we should give each other pedicures one evening – I still remember that!). In fact, my post (also linked with the High Calling) is about a staycation of sorts. I hope the rest of your week is blessed with all the things you need.
I’m next to you at the High Calling “vacation” link-up! I think even expensive away from home vacations have low points and high points, things that failed to live up to our expectations and things that exceeded our expectations. I enjoyed your post very much!
Kathryn! I love your idea of keeping it low-cost, high-fun — to make memories that will last. It reminds me of the time we went to DisneyWorld. We had day after day planned for the various parks. But a couple of those days, the kids begged us to stay home from the parks, and hang out at the little pool where we were staying. So that’s what we did. While they loved the Disney characters and the rides, they seemed to have the most fun of all on the pool days.
Thank you for linking with us at The High Calling!
My kids had been begging to go back to the beach this summer. When I asked what they loved about the beach, they answered “the pool”! I said we could find a much cheaper pool that would be just as much fun – but not pay beach prices for it. Need to take advantage of it while they’re little!
Oh, I just had to laugh. You described it to a T. This is my last summer with my daughter before she gets married in December so I’m trying to make the most of it. She’s managing the house, cooking the meals all in prep for having her own home. It’s bittersweet but I’m determined to make good memories! We liked stay cations when our girls were young, too. It’s amazing how much fun you can make a McDonald’s trip and curling up in the library reading and snuggling. ~Pamela
Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says
Fun! Who says vacation needs to break the bank?
Thanks for linking up at Thought-Provoking Thursday!
I am finding that managing my expectations is key in just about anything I do, especially those related to parenting. I think the flops that are happening are the ones that you – and they – will remember most. And the time spent together, though draining, is adding to a relationship foundation that you will need when the teen years come. We have 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds, and there is still a fair amount of complaining, fighting, and crying here, too!
Really, we should just stop spending money and just play in sprinklers and empty boxes! It really is the simple things that make the best memories! In the end, it’s about time together – and sometimes the sweetest moments come right after the tears.
Your reference to the Pinterest fails made me grin–so much of my kids’ childhoods could be summarized as Pinterest fails, except my kids were past the milk-painting stage by the time Pinterest came along, so I was spared that social media comparison game.
Anyway, I absolutely love that photo of the kids dancing and running through the fountain. Free fun, and such joy! You can try to plan those moments, but sometimes the best memories just happen. And that’s worth writing about!
What I loved most about our vacation was the favorite activities turned out to be the least-planned, lowest-cost. The ones we planned and paid too much for weren’t nearly the hits as the others! Those fountains were one of the highlights of the week!