For whatever reason, you and your family aren't going out of town for spring break, which means the kids will be home for an entire week. That reality can be terrifying, considering your kids' energy levels and their quickly lost interest with their toys. Maybe you're dreading the constant moans of "I'm bored" and the never-ending arguments about whose turn it is to play the video game. Here are some ideas for your spring break staycation that are fun, active and cost effective.
Visit a local nature park. It's likely that there is a park nearby where you can hike and explore. Regardless of cooler weather, a day at the park is the perfect plan when your kids are restless and full of energy. Pack a quick lunch and a Frisbee to make this mini road trip even more fun.
Go to a local baseball game. Check and see if there are any spring training events near you. If there aren't, find a local high school team and make it a big deal. Tell the kids to don their favorite jersey and bring their noisemakers. Better yet, get the family together for a game of your own. Keep score and the winners can choose where you eat for dinner!
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Rent an RV and camp locally. Renting a camper can be super cost effective. Find a campsite nearby and load up the kids for a local excursion. You don't have to travel hundreds of miles for camping to be fun. Sometimes just packing up and enjoying a campfire at night are enough to make it feel like you've left home. Plus, you'll be close to home in case you need to run back and grab something you forgot!
Have a backyard cookout. Pull out games like cornhole, hillbilly golf and kickball and have some fun while you wait for hot dogs and hamburgers. You can also use this opportunity to teach the kids to grill under your supervision. Get fun plates, drinks and balloons to amp up the excitement. Check out 15 Fabulous Meals to Cook in Foil for some great ideas for campfire cookin'!
Host a cooking competition. Be the judge of your kids' Master Chef Junior contest. Help them pick out a recipe or two then take a trip to the grocery. You can even make it a contest to see who can find their ingredients fastest. Then let the kitchen become their workspace and enjoy their masterpieces together afterwards.
Tackle an outdoor project together. Maybe you've been wanting to build that fire pit for years but just haven't had the time. Well, here's your chance! Enlist the kids as your apprentices and let them help get the supplies and construct the project. It will mean a lot to say your kids helped you make it and you can enjoy it when it's finished by kicking back and rewarding everyone's hard work.
Volunteer. Check out local volunteering opportunities. You and the kids can make a day of it, whether you help out at the local shelter or help plant flower beds in town. It will keep everyone active and instill important values. Plus, when you're doing it together, it's a lot of fun!
Do a food tour. Sit down with the kids and make a list of some of your favorite restaurants or places you've never eaten before. Then spend a day visiting each one and sharing a dish, whether it's an entire entree, a dessert or an appetizer. Make it a walking tour to expend energy and make room for your next bite.
Host the Video Game Olympics. This one will be more fun if you have a Wii or a Kinect. Gaming systems that keep your kids moving are more fitting for the Olympic theme. You can draw brackets on a chalkboard or a big piece of paper and play whatever game suits your fancy, as long as there's a lot of arm waving and jumping around! Winner gets to pick where you go for ice cream. Check out these Top 7 Wii Games for Kids Under 12.
Act like a tourist. Maybe you've lived in the same place for over a decade and have never visited the local historical museum. Take a day to visit those sites you've never seen. Give each of your kids a disposable camera to play along and develop their pictures later to make a photo album of their day in history.
Take everyone on a home safari. Start the day by watching Lion King to get everyone in the mood. Hang green streamers around the house to look like vines and move the furniture around to set the scene. Then spend the day acting like animals or explorers. You can even make kabobs for lunch with colorful, fresh fruit for a safari-esque meal.
Stay at a local hotel. If your spring break is a bit chilly, this is a good way to get the feeling of travel without leaving home. Make sure you stay at a hotel with a pool so the kids can waste away the day in the water. There's something about a fluffy hotel bed and some chlorine that makes a hotel an easy way to treat the family.
>> Check out these fun underwater games to play in the pool!
Do a scavenger hunt. Makes lists of things for the kids to find then set them loose in the house and in the yard. Give them a grocery bag to collect their treasures and when they've finished, make an elaborate display of showcasing what they found.
Find indoor attractions. Especially for those of you with a colder spring break, indoor options are crucial. Find a bowling alley or laser tag and spend a day in heated competition with the family. They might even enjoy ice skating at an indoor rink. These will keep the kids active, even if it's gross and rainy outside.
>> Check out these 20 Indoor Activities for Babies and Toddlers.
Don't let your spring break at home turn into a boring week for the kids and an exhausting one for you. Vow to set aside the chores and skip the errands and treat the kids and yourself to a week of fun without even leaving the area. You don't have to travel hours and hours away or spend tons of money to renew your appreciation for family and enjoy a week with the kiddos.
>> Read more: The Importance of Bonding With Your Kids