Staycation holidays are fast becoming practical and fun alternatives to expensive family vacations, especially for those who love swimming adventures.
Having active children who are keen on swimming usually means going to beaches and kiddy-themed pool resorts.
This had been the exact situation for my family up until my kids expressed the desire to seriously learn how to swim as a survival skill.
My husband and I totally agree, so for this year we decided to spend more family bonding time at our own pool or in swim places in our neighborhood, instead of traveling to far away beach resorts.
We thought of it as a practical way to bond as a family without spending a lot on gas and accommodations.
My husband, the kids and I came up with our own staycation idea based on our usual set of criteria for a good vacation – which are reasonable prices, encouragement and stimulation of creativity and imagination, water safety, and of course fun family time!
Here are ways you can have a swimming adventure without leaving your own home:
Children need professional support and supervision to properly learn how to swim, and swim clubs that are geared towards providing a safe, comfortable, and clean learning environment is high on our list.
It is fortunate that we found such a place a few blocks away from our home. It has superb learn-to-swim programs and was founded in 2008 by supportive parents who are avid swimmers. Being swimmers ourselves, the club's vision mission and impressive swimming instruction history resonated with my husband and me.
We were also pleased to find that the facilities included perennially heated swimming pools. Heated pools are a must for us, and being close to ones that are warm year-round is a lot like having our own summer swim adventure whatever season it may be.
Fun games and sports are also incorporated into the swimming instructions, with water polo, tag, pool volleyball and basketball, and other age-appropriate activities as part of the itinerary. Every weekend of the six-week swimming course, parents and guardians of the students are encouraged to take part in friendly competitions such as pool relays and races to truly make swimming a family affair.
While you're planning your stay at home vacation, consider a camp-out in your backyard. If you're not already equipped for camping, just spring for an inexpensive family sized tent. They don't cost much and you can use them over and over, (or your kids can.)
Make S'mores over a campfire, spread a blanket under the stars and just enjoy quality time with your family.
Don't forget to tell ghost stories by moonlight or flashlight, too.
It is a good family project to come up with creative ways to make
swimming at home fun and memorable whatever the season may be. My kids
have already celebrated a couple of birthdays with themes ranging from
Little Mermaid to pirates and treasure hunting, and even a water safari.
For this summer, we thought of a Hawaiian theme for our neighbors and my kids' playmates to participate in. The girls came in cute sarongs and floral hair clips; the boys wore board shorts and plastic leis.
We dragged an old sandbox near the pool and placed colorful plastic buckets, seashells, beach balls, and spades so the kids can build sandcastles and play in it.
Popsicles, chilled fruit boxes, and fruit
kebabs were served in keeping with the theme, as refreshing treats for
the warm weather.
The grown-ups had a barbecue while keeping watch over the kids. We had family pool relays and a race using inflatable rubber rafts, and both kids and adults had a splash with a slip-'n-slide installed specifically for the event.
There are usually attractions near home that might otherwise be missed. Our hometowns are often neglected by the locals.
We got to see the Optimus Prime truck in our own town recently!
We simply love seafood and make sure to always get some during summer out of town trips. As a concession to our swim-themed staycation plans, we agreed to have dinner at a local restaurant known for serving delicious seafood at a reasonable price.
Our friends have been recommending a place near our home because of its fresh seafood entrée menu and wonderful promos. As an added bonus, children under ten years old are given a fifty percent discount during weekdays and non-holidays.
This is a very good thing because my kids can eat a lot of shrimp! We had so much fun because it was reminiscent of memorable vacations that included all-we-can-eat seafood. Suffice it to say, we went there as a family and came out full, satisfied, and ready for more in the near future.
One morning I found my children, aged eight and eleven, in
their old sandbox after the pool party we threw for our neighbors. It
amused me to find them playing with sand as if they were little kids at
the beach again.
My son, who is showing early signs of architectural inclinations, constructed an awesome sandcastle complete with turrets and a moat using his old plastic bucket, spades, and some water.
We simply had to take a photo of his engineering feat. It made me realize all the possible spontaneous fun we can have as a family, right at our own backyard, and made me thankful for such priceless moments.
Over this summer staycation, a waterproof camera was our best friend. For the
six weeks that my kids were enrolled at the local pool club, we managed
to save a couple of gigs worth of both underwater and regular pictures
of them having fun while learning how to swim. We even have a couple of
shots of us eating seafood as if it is going out of style.
We were so into the "capture-the-moment" thing that the kids have started calling my husband and me "paparazzi" and "mamarazzi"!
Taking photos of a staycation is a great activity to remind us that enjoying vacations as a family does not necessarily have to be costly.
If your next vacation break will be a holiday Staycation, be sure to plan activities for the kids, and even for the adults.
There are many advantages to choosing staycations over the usual expensive out-of-town trips or hotel holidays.
With less time, money, and effort involved, vacationing at home allows a whole lot of imagination, creativity, and moments to bond.
My family plans to add more swim-themed ideas to our growing list, but for this particular summer we are very happy to have stuck with the ideas we came up with.