Most staycations involve bag packing, hotels, and room service, or ventures out to local attractions, but what if you just stay home? Now before you start asking how that’s a vacation or staycation of any sort, let’s explore the idea.
For many of us who have young children, supervise or provide care for a parent or spouse, or have health issues that make travel difficult, the simplest of simple breaks may be what we need. My aunt Sally used to tell a story that seems fitting. When her 3 kids were 1, 6, and 7, she went back to college. Now, you probably need to know that Aunt Sally always cooked homemade meals. When we lived in the same town, I often showed up right around dinner time knowing that there would automatically be homemade bread and a delicious meal. Anyway, after endless months of very long days caring for the kids, going to school, doing homework, cleaning the house, and cooking meals, my uncle had a day off. He said he’d watch the kids while she took a bath.
Aunt Sally filled the bathtub, she put in her favorite bubbles, got in the tub and just relaxed. After what seemed like an eternity, she pulled herself out of the tub, got dressed, and put on her watch to realize that only 10 minutes had passed. She thought it had been at least an hour. She had to laugh. She was still laughing about it 20 years later.
The advantages to taking a break at home are numerous. You get to sleep in your own bed. You don’t have to worry about doing laundry in advance so that you will have the outfit you need. In fact, you don’t have to think about packing anything at all — no special food, no meds, no toothpaste, extra shoes, socks or phone charger.
The question is how to make staying home feel like a vacation. This can be done with planning over time or no planning at all. What will work best depends on your personality and circumstances.
My caregiving duties are two days per week keeping my 7-month-old grandson at my home and supervising the care of my 96-year-old cousin. That means I can carve out a long weekend at home without having to get a sitter, but if you can’t, then by all means GET A SITTER. This can be a family member, friend, professional caregiver, or a service. Sometimes insurance will cover the cost.
Hire someone to clean your house. The day before your vacation, use the money you’re saving by not going to a hotel to have your house cleaned.
Do not work. If that means turning off the phone, putting away the computer, or just refocusing your attention, then do it.
Do not use the time to catch up on chores. You can get a sitter another time to catch up on chores, but that’s not a vacation. Each time you think of your To Do list, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, envision something beautiful, and breathe until your breathing slows and you’re no longer thinking about anything besides your breath or that beautiful vision.
Sit still. If you rarely take a break, you’ll need some transition time to slow down your body and mind. Without stillness, you cannot reconnect with yourself in order to know what you need.
Feed yourself. Once you’re still, listen to yourself. If you’re hungry, feed yourself food. If you’re feeling uninspired, feed your mind and your soul. If you’re hungry for rest, sleep. Whatever you choose, do it with as little effort as possible.
My city has a food delivery service that picks up from the local restaurants I frequent. I can take time off without planning anything — even gluten-free food. All I have to do is place an online order, pay my bill & tip through the site, then crack open my door enough to pull the food inside when it’s delivered. If I were traveling, I would be eating out more so I don’t mind having food delivered for a few days.
If your town doesn’t have such a service, you may be able to order from individual restaurants that deliver or pay a teenager to pick up food for you. Another option is to plan in advance by freezing a few entrees, making a pot of chili, cooking a roast, or making a trip to the store and stocking up on salad components, deli items or frozen favorites. The idea is to have already prepared food ready to grab so that you don’t spend your rest time planning menus, preparing food, or cleaning the kitchen.
Yoga and weight lifting remain part of my day during a home vacation. It’s not that I feel as though I have to work out. I do these workouts because I like the way they make me feel. They do not deplete my energy. They renew me. Anything that makes you feel renewed is a great vacation activity even if it looks like work to other people.
I love to have time to read and binge watch without guilt. I like not having to put on clothes or even take a bath unless I want to. If I want to answer my phone, I do. If I don’t want to answer, I don’t. When I’m homecationing, I make choices as I go just like I would if I were deciding whether to sit on the beach or go snorkeling.
Of course you’re not locked into staying at home. If after sitting still you feel that going to a museum would inspire you in the moment, go ahead. The point is not to feel obligated to do anything or go anywhere. Another point is to stop filling time in a manner that keeps you from knowing how you feel.
A third point is to let it be okay NOT to do. If you miss a concert, there will probably be another one you want to see just as much. If you miss a movie, it will soon be available online. If you miss a family dinner, the world will not end. A little planning can most often prevent missing scheduled events like weddings, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations, but if you need a break from those as well, then take one.
The whole family can have a vacation at home. It’s a great way to make time to reconnect. Put a moratorium on social media. Work on a scrapbook. Look at old photos & videos. Learn a new board game together. Work crossword puzzles. Have a video game tournament. Play chase. Do karaoke. Take lots of naps and laugh, laugh, laugh.
There has to be some balance to a life well lived. Too much hedonistic or selfish behavior will damage relationships and possibly the hedonist. Too much selfless behavior and the servant may burn out, leave without explanation, or become resentful.
A well executed home vacation can provide much needed relief with a minimum amount of effort and expense. I recommend taking them often!