While family trips are great for making memories, they can be a huge stress on the vacation planner (known as “Mom” in most households). More than ever, parents are turning to the “staycation” as a fun, budget-friendly way to have family fun and keep the stress levels down.
I asked Pilar Guzmàn, (former editor-in-chief of Cookie and new Care.com contributor!) to share her best idea for summer fun and she came up with a fantastic idea for a backyard camping trip. Here it is!
“I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.” —William Faulkner: Sartoris
Despite my best efforts, I am not an advance-planner. I invite friends over at 4pm for dinner at 7—and book airplane tickets a couple of weeks before departure so that I can’t even get two seats together for my family of four. The pressure of planning the perfect summer vacation (a fun experience that doesn't break the bank) can be daunting—so much so, in fact, that I have decided not to plan one at all this summer.
My plan? To pitch a tent on my lawn, project movies onto the side of our house, and roast marshmallows over a fire pit.
Sometimes you need not look beyond your own backyard to find all of the adventure you crave. The key is to make it as fanciful for you as for your kids and that means exporting all necessary (or just plain old fun) creature comforts outdoors:
1. Set the scene.
Camping doesn’t have to mean Gortex and Arctic-proof technical equipment. Your campsite can be more romantic, think Out of Africa not Into Thin Air. So drape campsites with colorful fabric to get that Jeanie’s bottle feel. In other words, feel free to decorate—and definitely have the kids use their imaginations to help out.
2. Don’t be a minimalist.
Since you are steps from your home, you can afford to bring out real pieces of furniture like chairs and side tables as well as hurricane lanterns and big throw pillows. Lay out colorful blankets and cushions on the ground to create casual seating areas. Because you don’t have to carry anything on your back up a hill, you can encourage your kids to bring favorite stuffed animals and books so that your setup feels like an outdoor living room. Part of the appeal of this whole idea is taking familiar items out of their normal context.
3. Make it ceremonious.
Whether it’s a tea party or roasting hot dogs, use real cups and plates (I used old, chipped china but china nonetheless) to elevate the whole setting. This experience is not about practicality, it’s about fantasy.
4. Sleep tight.
Unless you are dying to slumber on the cold damp ground, I would recommend a blow up mattress, sheets, pillows and lots of heavy blankets over a using a sleeping bag. You’ll get a good night’s sleep and wake up ready to make bacon and eggs on the grill!
What do you think? Is a backyard camping trip up your alley? What are some other fun “staycation” ideas you’d like to try?