how to survive a staycation... like a mother

Since becoming a momma, spring break looks a little different than it used to. Gone are the days of bikinis, beaches, and day drinking. With a tightened budget and a tummy that could use some tightening of its own (not to mention two little people underfoot), I’ve slowly learned to master the art of the staycation.

I’ve put together a list for you of my top 5 tips for surviving a staycation like a mother.

*Note: This post is part of a new series I’m starting called Like a Mother, which focuses on conquering the seemingly impossible like only a mother can. 😉 If you can think of anything you’d like to see featured in this new series, shoot me an email.

Staycation tip #1: Get crafty.

Whenever the bored bug is about to hit, the first thing I do is break out the craft supplies. The girls love it, little projects can take up however much time you need to buy yourself, and it gets their creative muscles flexing much more than sitting in front of the TV does (that’s not to say we didn’t have our fair share of TV watching this break. Thanks to our Roku, we had an epic Wizards of Waverly Place marathon).

While Pinterest and mommy blogs might have you thinking otherwise, getting crafty doesn’t necessarily require tons of preparation and elaborate step-by-step instructions. Sometimes it’s fun to just throw a bunch of supplies at the girls and see what they come up with.

staycation: watercoloringIf you give a toddler some watercolor paints, she will try really hard to paint with a brush like a big girl before she says screw this noise and jumps in hands first. She’ll paint that way for a while before dumping the water all over the table and having a major splash fest.

But you know what? She’ll have fun and a little water to mop up is so much more fun than toddlers scaling bookshelves (also, if you haven’t checked out my If You Give a Toddler Some Raisins post, you should. I’ll wait for you).

craftyWith older kids, you can get a little more creative. I gave Samantha a blank piece of paper with 3 googly eyes glued to it and a bunch of crafty supplies. For a kid who is very black and white and likes rules and regulations, this was a bit outside of the box, but she loved it. I told her to make up her own scene around it. At first she was all concerned about the three eyes (Ummmm nobody has three eyes, mom!), but she got really into it.

She made a princess ghost with magical powers who was picking apples from a tree accompanied by her bunny sidekick. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

painting Easter eggsdiy reusable Easter eggs

A quick and easy craft for kids to do is painting wood (or in this case, papier mache). I bought a pack of eggs at Michaels and gave Samantha a bunch of paint to do whatever she wanted with them. The best part is we can pull these babies out and admire them year after year.

This one bought me enough time to tie up some loose ends before we headed out.

If you’re looking for something a bit more structured, something similar to our bunny banner might be perfect.

diy bunny banner

This one was easy but took a little more time (and was more hands on for momma). I found a cute bunny template, printed it and cut it out. Next, we traced it onto the back of some old boxes (we used a Teddy Grahams box and a tissue box) and cut those out. Samantha painted each of them before I punched holes in their ears and strung them up on some raffia.

Pretty simple and totally cute. Plus, Sam loves that fact that her work is displayed so she can show anyone who comes over.

Staycation tip #2: Get out of the house.

When you’re sick of hearing about glitter and glue, it’s time to get out of the house. It doesn’t have to be anywhere special. In fact, our favorite place to escape to in any weather is Barnes and Noble. It’s close to our house, there’s a cafe, a huge kid’s section, trains, legos and a little stage. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

staycation: book storeWe usually grab a stack of books and head to the cafe where the girls split a treat and I sip a vanilla latte. We read and eat until babycakes gets antsy and then we either move back to the kid’s section for playtime or head elsewhere.

Either way, we get out of the house–key to surviving a staycation. Plus, my inner lit nerd likes that it helps build warm, fuzzy memories for the girls that revolve around reading. Highly important in my book!

messy babe

Staycation tip #3: Go somewhere special.

Alright. I know that I just told you that you don’t need to go somewhere special when you’re getting out of the house. But the truth is, it helps if you at least go to one special place. And it doesn’t have to fit everyone else’s idea of special. For Samantha, going to Friendlys is kind of a big deal. She loves the grilled cheese. She loves the ice cream. And since we don’t go all of the time, it’s special to her.

So we went to Friendlys. The girls had a blast and it gave them something to look forward to. Plus, when you add a special place to the agenda, the entire day seems to revolve around it (even if it’s just lunch). Our morning was spent looking forward to it and our afternoon was spent coming down from our sugar and excitement-induced high.

Staycation tip #4: Be silly.

staycation: get sillySometimes, you just have to get silly. And it doesn’t take much. My girls spent the better part of an hour rolling around in and playing with laundry baskets. They tipped them backwards while sitting in them. They had me push them around in them. They pretended they were trapped in them. The whole time, they giggled uncontrollably.

A little bit of silliness goes a long way–especially when you detect a bad mood (or two) on the horizon. Cut it off at the pass with silly games or dress up or anything that will make them laugh.

Staycation tip #5: When all else fails, let them loose.

No matter how much you try to plan ahead, there will be bumps in the road. That’s when you need to let them loose. They’ll run around wild and free, like caged animals that discovered how to get out. They’ll have fun. They’ll get some exercise. And they’ll sleep really, really well.

runningslidingsister loveDo you have any tips for surviving a staycation like a mother? I want to hear them! Leave them here in the comments or over on my Facebook page!

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.