If finances are a bit tight or you’re just trying to save money for something big, don’t feel like you and your family are missing out. Rethink the way you see this opportunity.
First: go Google “fun ideas for staycations”. We’re not going to rehash the same stuff you can research on your own. Look it up—there are tons of articles/blogs with great suggestions. Pick 2-5 ideas and take a few days off if you can, to spend with your kids. If not, at least find a few days where you can take off a few hours early and do something special together.
Plato said: You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
When was the last time YOU really played? Not because you had to in order to entertain the kids, pass the time, or just check it off the “to do” list with the kids for that day, but because you really thought you might have fun?
Truth is, most adults (myself included) find it difficult to schedule in play and not feel frivolous. And if we do, our mind is usually already involved in the next chore or task in the midst of the playtime.
We see this happen with parents and their kids all the time. Of course you make time to engage in playtime with your kids. But we’re going to suggest using the “staycation” time a little differently. Make it more than an extended playtime.
Take some time out to plan some memorable moments with your kids. Most kids wouldn’t admit it, but they do enjoy time with you, having your full attention while doing something fun with you.
If you find that your kids complain about spending time with you and it’s your observation that your kids would rather be anywhere else and doing anything else but being with you, take this as a sign that it’s a good time to work on your relationship with your kids.
Here’s a few ways to rethink staying home over the summer with your kids:
- Set some guidelines that allow all of you to focus on one another. This means putting all your electronic devices away in a spare closet for the duration of playtime. Let the connection with one another be the main focus of the activity. This teaches your kids how to be present with you, others and the activity at hand. And your kids really do want your undivided attention. Remember: only play—no serious discussions about anything. Really focus on this moment with them with absolutely no distractions for any of you.
- Let your kids remind you (or even teach you) how to play again. Ask your kids to show you what they like to do when they’re with their friends. If they like to play video games or a sport, let them teach you how to play. This is a great way to observe how patient they are or how good they are at explaining things. Ask them to teach you a secret they’ve found to winning that only they know. Ask them what they think is the most fun they have when their on their own time and then find some way to do at least some part of the activity with them. Again, really focus on this moment. It’s a very powerful exercise to do with them.
- Listen and respond to every little last thing they say and do. When’s the last time you took in every action, word and behavior of your kids? You were fully engaged with them and commenting on what they did or said and not distracted by a phone call, text or email? Comment or ask them about what you see them doing or saying in a positive way. Notice how they do something. Have they learned a new skill really well? Do they help or include others? Try to find as many ways as you can to genuinely and thoughtfully tell them what you see that you authentically are impressed with. If possible, only reprimand if their behavior detracts from the play or is inappropriate. You’ll want to stay away from only pointing out negative behaviors or reminding them of their potential for bad behavior. Only call them out on negative behavior or talk when necessary.
I’m sure you see the pattern here: Be. Observe. Be present. Connect. Engage. I promise this level of being fully present and engaged will impact your kids far deeper than a trip to Disneyworld. Sure, those are fun, memorable moments. But what most kids are deeply yearning for is to be fully connected with you.
Allowing yourself to lose yourself in play will also do wonders for your soul. You need this break as much as they do. Let it whisk you away to a day far gone by. Let it refresh you—be a kid with them again.
We were privileged to be able to take 6-8 week vacations when I was growing up. And I loved all of them (I’ve always been an adventurer with wanderlust of epic proportions!). But some of the best memories I have was going to a local pond with my parents and fishing. My parents forgot about all the responsibilities and adult worries. They were kids again with me. I saw a side of my parents I didn’t see too often. And now that my dad has passed and my mom nearing the end of her life, those are days I treasure and remember with a smile and a tear.
And one day, when your kids are living out their life with their kids, not only will you have wonderful memories of connecting deeply with them, they’ll remember, too. They’ll want to make the same beautiful memories with their kids. And when you’re gone, they’ll tell their kids about one of the most memorable summers they ever had with you. And all you did was stay at home—and play.