What I Learned from Our Sixteen Day Staycation


family game

Not my family.


I sometimes   always think that a lot of unstructured time with the kids will be lovely. And I absolutely imagine the above photograph. We will play games and giggle and have ticklefests!  What psychological defense mechanism is this? Denial? Repression? Lunacy? Why do I do this? As families around me tell me about their upcoming plans and busy travels, I say, “We’re staying put. I think it’ll be good to have some down time.”

When I say those words a month from now, which I’m sure I will, please forward me this post. When I say, “It’ll be good to have some down time,” I need to HALT. Some down time. Like one day. Maybe one day and one morning. NOT sixteen days. Sixteen days of “down time” is not actual down time, especially when a good portion of that time is spent in blizzard conditions. It is sixteen days of sledding, skiing (thanks, Mr. POTL!), more sledding, whining, crying, shoveling, 1,500 episodes of Jessie (shoot me), video games, setting limits on video games, disciplining kids for whining about rules for video games, cosmic bowling, movies, bringing the kids together, separating the kids, making 54 boxes of Annie’s mac and cheese, hosting manic play dates, doling out 240 snacks, cleaning up a pound of glitter, trying to save the dog from being loved to death…I believe that paints a fair picture.

This break, I realized that, no matter how enthusiastically I present these activities, my kids do not like to do them:

Organize closets.

Go to The Container Store.

Clean their rooms.

Play any game that lasts more than ten minutes.

I also realized that I will end up doing children’s activities alone if I try to initiate them. Play-doh? They will enthusiastically agree and then sneak away, and I will be left alone making a series of eight neon green snakes. Therapeutic? Possibly.

Puzzles? They will flip over three pieces, tell me that puzzles are hard and that I should do them. And so I will. While they jump off the couch in the background.

Coloring? We will get out all the markers from the craft closet that they don’t want to organize (what?), spread them everywhere, and they will determine that they are going outside. But then inside. And then outside.

They and their friends will show me things I didn’t know were possible: eating Cheez-its off of a straw, making every sentence into a poop joke, eating crackers mixed with snow.


The kids went back to school today. Despite my complaints, I bet you anything that they had an awesome vacation. They are already reminiscing about it, one day into the real world. That’s the takeaway. I might be a bit frayed around the edges, but I am fine, and they had fun. For the next vacation, though? We are doing less Jesse, less attempts at organization, and more time out of the house.

And remember, forward me this post when I say I’m psyched to stay at home for the next vacation because preparation is the greatest defense against insanity. Didn’t somebody say that? Somebody?




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