Guest Post By Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.
With the high price of gasoline, are you thinking of canceling your vacation trip? This summer more and more Sandwiched Boomers are reducing their carbon footprint by taking “staycations” with their families. Why drive to a resort when there are community swimming pools around the corner? Why plan a remote getaway when you can relax in the beauty and serenity near you? You don’t need to travel to the city for excitement when you can create your own at home.
Gasoline prices are edging toward five dollars a gallon and the hassle and expense of air travel is increasing. Families saddled with the economic and emotional costs of caring for growing children and aging parents are saving money and energy by vacationing at home this year. But how to make it a real vacation and not one long list of chores and obligations? When you follow these tips, you’ll return from your staycation refreshed, recharged and reconnected to your family:
1. Make planning for your staycation a part of the process of reconnection that usually comes about on vacation. Set aside time to have a family meeting and encourage everyone to talk about what activities they want to include. This preparation will give you all a better understanding and appreciation of each other. And you can reduce the tension and arguments that might ensue later about what you were going to do together.
2. When your staycation begins, take a complete break from all work. Don’t check your job-related emails or call in for updates about projects. This is your free time so resist home-related chores as well. Leave the beds unmade or arrange for someone to come in and clean so that you won’t be temped to work around the house. Do set aside time for any home activities you enjoy for relaxation – gardening or scrap booking, for example.
3. Act as you would on a vacation away from home. Go to bed and get up when you want – don’t set your alarm clock. Let the kids stay up past their bedtime if you are doing something out of the ordinary. Enjoy a special breakfast out one day. Relax in the sun and read a page-turner or amusing beach book. Exercise in ways that aren’t easy while you are working – a morning tennis or golf game, a midday horseback ride through the countryside, a leisurely hike at sunset. Splurge on a night out at a fancy restaurant or for tickets to an entertaining event.
4. Consider this time as a week of weekends. Have fun with your family – play board games together, make popcorn and rent classic movies, go to the park for a pick-up basketball game, take in a concert under the stars, get bleacher tickets for a baseball game, go for family bike rides or long walks in the neighborhood, splash each other in the community pool. Have a barbeque and let each family member cook or prepare a different part of the menu. Plan your own Olympics competition with events appropriate for your children’s ages.
5. Explore your immediate surroundings and discover something new. Take a city bus tour and see the sights that you’ve never noticed before. Expand your horizons and those of your family members. Visit a museum near you – often they offer entrance fee free days or discounts for local patrons. Participate together in a creative activity like ceramic painting or a mini-course in photography at the community center. Visit the campus of a local college and wander through the library. You may uncover an interest you never realized you had.
6. Remember to include the universal vacation ritual – take lots of photos and videos to share with your friends. Looking at the pictures of your family’s smiling faces will enhance your memories of the special times you spent together. Continue the feelings of togetherness by creating an album commemorating your first family staycation.
The decision to spend your vacation at home this summer can deepen the bonds and transform your family. Without either the tension that travel creates or the stress of considerable expenditures in this uncertain economy, you will find that the time socializing with family this year is more relaxing than ever. And as a Sandwiched Boomer with so many responsibilities, you deserve this rest and respite. Your staycation can help carry you through the year ahead with your enriched family relationships. So instead of “bon voyage,” it’s “bonnes vacances a la maison!”
© 2008, Her Mentor Center
Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. & Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are co-founders of www.HerMentorCenter.com, a website for midlife women and www.NourishingRelationships.Blogspot.com, a Blog for the Sandwich Generation. They are authors of a forthcoming book about Baby Boomer’s family relationships and publish a free newsletter, Stepping Stones, through their website.