(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

You know the scene in Cast­away where an increas­ing­ly insane and unkempt Tom Han­ks marks off the days he’s been strand­ed at sea, watch­ing the num­ber slow­ly tick up?

We haven't reached the point of talked to volleyballs... yet.  

Today, we can odd­ly relate. After a full two months in quar­an­tine, our fam­i­ly is start­ing to feel a lit­tle marooned and iso­lat­ed our­selves.  I’m per­son­al­ly not sure which I’m jonesing for more — a root touch up or a beach vaca­tion.  But with the stay at home rules only just start­ing to be loos­ened in some places, we have a feel­ing it might be a lit­tle bit before we’re sip­ping pina coladas in a cabana by the pool.

So, until that glo­ri­ous day comes, we’re mak­ing the most of our time at home and doing our best to “get away” on some good old-fash­ioned stay­ca­tion activ­i­ties while shel­ter­ing in place with our kids.


Camp out

I’m not a camper.  Bugs and wildlife and pub­lic bath­rooms that look like scenes from hor­ror films have nev­er been my jam.  Add a tod­dler in the mid­dle of pot­ty train­ing to the mix and you’ve pret­ty much got my worst nightmare.

But pitch­ing a tent in your own back­yard is the per­fect hap­py medi­um — all the nov­el­ty of a new expe­ri­ence with all the ameni­ties of home.  What’s not to love about that?

Pick a night when the weath­er’s going to be decent (noth­ing ruins a camp out like a tor­ren­tial down­pour), find your­self a nice tent and some sleep­ing bags on Ama­zon, pack a cool­er with camp­ing fare clas­sics — hot dogs, Jiffy Pop, all the fix­ins for s’mores which you can cook over the grill — and spend some time in the great out­doors.  Bring along card games to play, tell scary sto­ries, or try to find the dif­fer­ent con­stel­la­tions


5 Fun Staycation Ideas to Get Your Kids Excited About Being Home

If you’re look­ing for us, we’ll be per­fect­ing the art of mak­ing s’mores. Pho­to by Priscil­la du Preez


You’ll be amazed what a lit­tle adven­ture and change of scenery can do for every­one’s spir­its.  And if at the end of the night every­one winds up back inside in their own beds, we won’t judge. 

If you’re like my fam­i­ly and don’t have a yard (which we lament on a reg­u­lar basis these days), try camp­ing inside instead. No tent?  No prob­lem.  Blan­ket and pil­low forts hap­pen to be the absolute best sleep­ing accom­mo­da­tions, in our per­son­al opinion. 

You can still have all the camp­ing clas­sics, just made over the stove.  Miss­ing the crack­le of the fire and chirp of the crick­ets?  There’s a sound­track for that!  YouTube alone has sev­er­al atmos­pher­ic noise sound­tracks to choose from.  For added fun, turn out the lights and use flash­lights or camp­ing lanterns to cre­ate the effect of actu­al­ly being outside.


Make a fancy dinner

Has any­one else fall­en into a COVID induced cook­ing rut?  We’re cur­rent­ly cycling through four main­stays on a week­ly basis — mac n’ cheese, tacos, piz­za, and fish sticks.  Yes.  Fish sticks.  When the already dread­ed task of going to the gro­cery store becomes a stress­ful maze of one-way aisles and dodg­ing peo­ple like Frog­ger in a 1980s arcade game, we’ll do any­thing to sim­pli­fy the process. 

But noth­ing exac­er­bates a bor­ing rou­tine quite like hav­ing the same thing for din­ner every sin­gle week.  So make some reser­va­tions at that super exclu­sive new restau­rant known as your kitchen.  Find a recipe that’s a lit­tle fanci­er but can eas­i­ly be adapt­ed to a kid-friend­ly ver­sion for picky eaters.  Get every­one involved in the cook­ing prep.  Break out the nice dish­es.  Dress up.  (Or at least wear reg­u­lar pants that don’t have elas­tic in the waist­band.)  Play some fun music.  

You’ll be on your way to a Miche­lin star in no time. 

5 Fun Staycation Ideas to Get Your Kids Excited About Being Home

I don’t think you dou­ble-strained the sauce…


Do a drive-in movie

When we were kids, there was one dri­ve-in movie the­ater a few towns away that my par­ents would take us to once in a blue moon.  It was in the mid­dle of a field and despite its rus­tic ameni­ties, it was odd­ly no less expen­sive than the reg­u­lar movie the­ater.  But we loved going there.  We’d throw open the rear door on my mom’s sub­ur­ban and curl up with a giant blan­ket, bags of red vines, and box­es of Reese’s Pieces.  The movie could have been absolute garbage and we would­n’t have cared.  We just loved the experience. 

Nowa­days, it’s a nos­tal­gic expe­ri­ence you can eas­i­ly repli­cate at home.  There are sev­er­al mod­er­ate­ly priced “pock­et” pro­jec­tors on Ama­zon that you can get for less than $100.  And let’s be hon­est, it’s not any more than a trip to the movie the­ater costs you for a fam­i­ly of 4.  Hook the pro­jec­tor up to your phone, hang a white bed sheet on your garage door, get tons of snacks, rent the lat­est block­buster or fam­i­ly friend­ly clas­sic, and have a dri­ve-in movie at home.


5 Fun Staycation Ideas to Get Your Kids Excited About Being Home

Give us all the stars — both the Hol­ly­wood and the con­stel­la­tion variety.


Go somewhere exotic

You don’t need expen­sive plane tick­ets or a pass­port to have an exot­ic get­away.  Cre­ate it yourself. 

Have your kids look at a map and pick a des­ti­na­tion they want to “trav­el” to and then use Ama­zon and your imag­i­na­tion to bring the des­ti­na­tion to you.

Want to go to Hawaii?  Buy some cheap grace skirts on Ama­zon or Etsy and YouTube how to hula dance.  Bust out the blender and make vir­gin pina coladas with tiny beach umbrel­las.  Have a Hawai­ian inspired menu with pineap­ple and ham piz­zas and kid-friend­ly poke bowls. 

Encour­age your kids to research the des­ti­na­tion and think of cre­ative ways to bring it home.  It’ll give them some­thing to active­ly do that has the added ben­e­fit of teach­ing them about anoth­er part of the world. 


Create a home spa

While I’ve start­ed to embrace my Cast­away look, I’d be lying if I said I did­n’t miss the pam­per­ing and relax­ation of a nice after­noon at the spa.  There’s not much I would­n’t do these days for a fresh man­i­cure and face mask.  But until we’re able to go to the salon, have spa days at home.  Buy some facial masks online or make your own from scratch.  Turn on some sooth­ing music and maybe an essen­tial oil dif­fuser.  If you’re feel­ing real­ly fan­cy, throw some cucum­bers in your water. 

Then lux­u­ri­ate, with your kids or with­out.  There is absolute­ly noth­ing wrong with tak­ing an evening to your­self to just decom­press.  Estab­lish a dai­ly well­ness rou­tine to take care of your­self and your kids, if they’re will­ing. Few peo­ple are feel­ing the effects of quar­an­tine quite like us moms, so don’t for­get to take a lit­tle time for you.  Pour a glass of wine and soak in a nice bath.  Do your nails.  Enjoy an hour or two free from the home­school­ing and the enter­tain­ing and the ref­er­ee­ing and the clean­ing and the cook­ing and the mil­lion oth­er things.  You’ve def­i­nite­ly earned it.


5 Fun Staycation Ideas to Get Your Kids Excited About Being Home

Give us all the sug­ar scrubs, please! Pho­to by Uby Yanes


Being cooped up is start­ing to get to all of us.  But with a lit­tle plan­ning and some cre­ativ­i­ty, you can cre­ate fun expe­ri­ences at home that the whole fam­i­ly can enjoy.  Here’s some more trip and spa ideas you can try. 


Mor­gan is a brand design­er and writer who splits her time between man­ag­ing her cre­ative stu­dio, Atlas + Anchor, and writ­ing about her life­long love affair with trav­el. A wan­der­lus­ter at heart, she’s a big pro­po­nent of explor­ing the roads less trav­eled because they often lead to amaz­ing views, mem­o­rable sto­ries, and the most unas­sum­ing but life-chang­ing restau­rants. Orig­i­nal­ly from Ohio, Mor­gan now lives in the heart of Chica­go with her fam­i­ly and is quite pos­si­bly the only per­son with­in city lim­its who hates deep dish pizza. 



5 Fun Staycation Ideas to Get Your Kids Excited About Being Home



Dis­claimer: I just became an affil­i­ate for the Ama­zon web­site since, as a mom, it’s the most fre­quent way I shop now and it’s also how I rec­om­mend prod­ucts to friends that I’m using and love. You can’t hold back my love. Yet, I’m not an affil­i­ate of any of the oth­er prod­ucts I rec­om­mend­ed. See? Love.