There’s no doubt that this year our summer family vacation has been different. For the months leading up to it, we knew it would be different — masks, distancing, hand sanitizer, canceled vacation plans. It was bound to be a waste of time away from work. That is, if we let it.
And I decided pretty early on that we were not going to let that happen. Even if we couldn’t go anywhere big this year, it turns out that a little bit of staycation goes a long way.
For starters, the travel time — or lack thereof — was unbeatable. There was no jet lag or long, boring car rides with kids constantly questioning our arrival time or each child needing to stop to go potty 37 different times (you know, because one swore they didn’t need to go the last time we stopped).
As far as packing goes, it was a breeze; here is a bag for today. Nope, not even packing an extra outfit. You can wear your suit there and back. Weighing of suitcases was not a thing, nor was confirming all liquids were in a small-enough container to fly. This year, I didn’t bother stocking full travel activity bags.
And I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of money we saved. Do you know how much it costs to sleep your own house? Yep, exactly the same as it does every other night! No hotel bills, no eating out at expensive restaurants, no stupid expensive bubble wands or big suckers that wouldn’t even last the trip, and no rip-off gift shops charging two arms and one leg for a “priceless” souvenir.
Instead of money, this year we spent way more time. Time together as a family, time catching up with our loved ones and friends, and time just doing whatever we wanted when we wanted — without all the hassle and planning.
I did have somewhat of an agenda. I wanted to do all the at-home things I have always wanted to do in the summer when I have been stuck inside working and couldn’t. Which is exactly what we did.
In the past, we would get up at the crack of dawn to open a park. This year we slept in until we felt like getting up. This paired exceptionally well with staying up until whenever we wanted. Heck, one night the girls were still doing stair-slides down our steps on boogie boards until 1 a.m. Thanks again for that idea, Jen. (In case you couldn’t tell in writing, that was sarcasm.) But still so many laughs were had — and thankfully, no broken bones.
With not having to get up early, my girls finally got to experience post-8 p.m. neighborhood life, something they have begged for nightly since the summer began. Sparklers, fireflies, sleepovers and an abundance of Popsicles that I willingly gave in to when I feared that I didn’t drive enough fluids in my girls during the day filled our evenings.
Pretty much every day was a pool day. From the cheap pool I picked up at the beginning of the season that added a nice worn brown patch to our grass, to my sister’s brand-new above ground pool, we were never without water fun. One day, we even stepped out of our bubble and (safely, of course) visited a public pool.
One of the most memorable parts of that day – besides doing the super fun waterslides over and over with Maylie, was when we took a bathroom break and she exclaimed, “wow, mom! I haven’t been in a public bathroom in like a year.” Thinking about all that has changed in such a short time, I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. Instead, I replied quickly, “You’re right, don’t touch anything! Wash your hands!”
Undoubtedly, we have two new worn spots in our couch where our girls spent most nights, completely exhausted, falling asleep to the TV — which is something that they rarely, if ever, get to do. Even I had a girls night sleepover with a friend, which I haven’t had time to do in forever, and Paul got to visit with his uncle and cousin who he rarely sees.
This year was different. It was calm yet chaotic with sleepovers on a weeknight, tons of sunscreen yet rosy red cheeks, ice cream before and after dinner and breaking all the at-home rules we have to follow during the entire rest of the year.
No, it was not the best vacation of our lives, but it certainly was still amazing. Different can be negative or positive, it truly is whatever you make it. And I am thankful that we made it a staycation that we will never forget.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.