This summer, it’ll be “staycation” not vacation

I grew up in a middle class family where my Mum stayed home and watched us munchkins while my Dad worked, often six days a week. He got vacation time, however, and the idea of us going on even an overnight without him never really came up that I recall.

We’d do day trips, adventures to the beach, to visit family and I also remember summer camps when I was a bit older (I can also remember being afraid of horses when I was little. They’re big to a little person! But that’s another story), but long, exotic vacations? We never had the time or finances for anything longer than a week or ten days away.

children on see-saw, beach, new york
My sister and I enjoying the see-saw at the beach, NYC, circa 1969

Each summer I recall us having One Big Trip and that would be maybe last two weeks if things were going well. Otherwise it was, well, what it was, and living in New York (Long Island) we had access to tons of places all within a day or two’s drive. When I was younger we had a tent and would camp. We become well acquainted with K.O.A. campgrounds, even if us kids weren’t much help in putting up the tent and setting up our site. Later, we had a tent-trailer, which I remember thinking was just super cool (and much easier to set up!)

Summer vacation, though, was mostly about us kids figuring out things to do ourselves, not relying on our parents to entertain us with travel and activities.

But I think that’s changed, at least in my family. My kids are loath to have “a day off”, get bored, and turn to the Internet or video games to fill the time, which means that summer vacation is usually defined by travel and more travel. But that’s a task my ex has happily picked up and this summer they already have four trips on the books, including 21 days in Germany, two weeks in Montana at a Dude Ranch and as many weeks as they can manage at the family house at the Lake of the Ozarks.

With nary a beach in site…

boy buried in sand, california beach
The Boy, Buried in Sand, From a Previous Vacation

Of course, life has a way of intruding, so this is also the first summer that the older children have their own travel plans too, with my 14yo G- heading to a six-week outdoor camp in upstate Maine and my 17yo A- going to participate in a three-week service trip to Bonaire this summer too. That’s a rather crazy amount of travel in my book.

Just as importantly, I think that the boredom, the sleepovers and the local activities with friends — who become much closer through time spent together — are an essential part of summer break. It’s a blessing for children to learn how to entertain themselves, and while I’m a huge fan of technology, that entertainment shouldn’t be exclusively devices, gadgets and media either.

So this year, my summer plans are to be rooted, to stay here in Boulder and help my kids facilitate visits and playdates with their friends, old and new, while I continue to move forward on a couple of big projects I have. No big trips on the calendar. Might I do a few short trips to Santa Fe or similar? Maybe. But this year I’m the local, while they’ll get to enjoy a whirlwind of (planned, at least) travel with their Mom.

If you’re in a split household situation, do your kids end up traveling an inordinate amount during the summer? Do you like it?


2 comments on “This summer, it’ll be “staycation” not vacation

  1. Staycation, all I ever wanted … Staycation happy not to get away!

    I remember working at a job with lousy pay and having to commit to my own staycation as a result. One of the best weeks of my life!

  2. I love this and most of our summer, with my working full time, is spent in Colorado. We’re planning a few small trips, but in comparison to many of our kids’ friends, we are way under the radar. Feels less stressful this way and I like the later dinner times, summer evening walks, watching too much baseball and much needed downtime. They are doing day activities, mostly outdoor ones, and we’re trying to combat the attack of the technology zombies…

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