March 22, 2013

Lessons from a Staycation

It’s taken nearly a week, but I’ve figured it out: Staycations are overrated. And people who happily tell you that their family wanted to staycation are lying on two counts:
  1. They wanted a staycation. No one wants a staycation, but sometimes you must Staycation.
  2. That the time off is staycation in the first place. It’s not staycation, it’s time off, and that’s all it is. If a name must be attached to it, it’d be whatever the snappy pun is for “Of course we’d like to leave this crappy weather and spend our time off school and work someplace tropical, but we just can’t aford it."
So there it is. My family is on whatever that snappy little pun is, but we’ll call it Staycation because I haven’t come up with a snappy little pun yet. The truth is that we would’ve loved to escape to Jamaica or Disneyland or anyplace without snow, cold or the threat thereof, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us. Or more specifically: the bank. Or our wallets.
I put a good face on our staycation status and mused that, for once we’d all be unchained from school or work schedules for one full week. We’d have time together. Best of all and selfishly, there’d be no more fuzzy math in the wee dark hours of the morning when I subtract minutes from the time she has to be at school from the minutes it takes us to get there from the minutes it takes both of us to get ready, leaving me with the remainder of the number of minutes I can linger under the blankets before peeling myself out of bed.
So that first night of staycation, I stayed up late, as is my practice, but this time instead of stifling the voice who always chides “It’s getting late and you know you have to be up early tomorrow,” I told it to shut up because I didn’t have to be up early. So there. Then I sighed contentedly and reclined to soak up my late-night quiet time and thought “Yeah...bring it on Daily Show.” And that’s when Georgia tromped through the living room not even in pajamas. Then it was Jamie’s turn. He planted himself on the sofa across the living room from me, remote control in hand. I checked the time: nine o’clock. Both were up an hour past their bedtime and it looked like they had no intention of turning in. An hour later, Georgia joined Jamie on the couch. I knew the Daily Show was on, but that’s not a show for little eyes or ears, so I pulled the mom card and said it was bedtime. She indignantly sighed, but thankfully Jamie backed me up and she got ready for bed. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard him tell her that they’d say bedtime prayers together because that’s a sure sign he’d turn in too. I tried to hold in my “Woo-hoo!” as best I could, but something might’ve sneaked out involuntarily. I kissed her goodnight, they said bedtime prayers and…he returned to his place on the couch. I stared cock-headed the way our dog stares when he doesn’t understand something. Twenty minutes later, Jamie retired for the evening.
It was the first of many lessons learned about the difference between Vacation and Staycation. Sure, more stories could be told, but they’d only bore you and perhaps elicit a tear or two from me. Please enjoy the nutshell versions instead.
Quality Time: On Vacation, you want to stay up late with the people with whom you live because you’re in a different environment. After all, there’s a beautiful sunset that shouldn’t be missed and millions of stars that would otherwise be blocked out by the city lights. On Staycation, the only thing sunset means is that dinner’s probably late and you’re the chef. The millions of stars can’t be seen anyway and the people with whom you live need to head to bed as long as their bellies are full. Nothing to see here, just keep moving toward sleep and away from designated Quiet Time.
Meal Planning: On Vacation, you have nothing to do with the meal planning. Friendly exotic handsome strangers ask you what you’d like to eat. If you don’t know what you want, you can say “Surprise me” and they will! With something wonderful that would take you hours to create. Then the exotic handsome strangers take your plate away when you’re done and you never see the dirty plate again. On Staycation, meal planning is an individual sport. It’s your sport. No exotic handsome strangers, friendly or otherwise, are concerned about your palette. In fact, the people with whom you live have a tendency to hover around the lunch and dinner hour, while looking wistfully in your direction. They say things like “What’re you gonna do for dinner” even as they bite the sandwich you just made them for lunch. No fine china is involved either, and you and the people with whom you live lug the plates, pots and pans to the kitchen on your own power. The utensils then wait patiently for you and Dawn dishwashing liquid to tend to their needs.
Housekeeping: On Vacation, Housekeeping means that your bed is magically made daily with fresh, crisp sheets, the bathroom is daily scrubbed sparkly clean and replenished with plush white towels and mini soaps, shampoos, lotions and potions. On Staycation, you rally – no, you beg for -- the people with whom you live to “throw your stuff down the chute or it’s not gonna get washed.” You are also regularly reminded that you are woefully behind in your duties with statements like “Mom, I don’t have any clean underwear.” And then later, thankfully, you are also reminded that you are supported in your duties with offerings like “Hey…whaddya say we both tackle those loads of laundry that need folding.” Ah yes: romance does exist on staycation.
Productive. On Vacation, the word “Productive” does not exist. You are there to. Do Nothing. Except sightsee, surf, read, party, sleep or whatever tickles your fancy. Productive has no place on vacation. On Staycation, the goal is to get done what you usually can’t get done during the work week. Which makes Staycation feel a lot like five straight days of Saturdays with the push of pressure to “make hay while the sun shines,” and the pull of “but it’s my time off – it’s my STAYcation for cryin’ out loud! Why do I have to clean? Or comb my hair? Or wear something besides yoga pants?” and the additional pull of feeling like we ought to do something fun because, after all it is Georgia’s Spring Break.
So we capped off the week with a daytrip to Chicago’s Willis Tower and Shedd Aquarium. It wasn’t Jamaica, mon, but it was a little vacation from our staycation. Which was really, desperately needed.
Because a staycation’s no vacation at all.



  1. We have a staycation coming up. Hopefully I'll win the lottery before then and we can go somewhere - I really want a break from cooking:)

    1. Good luck on the lotta, but if not: Happy Cooking! :)

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  3. Love the vacation from the staycation Rochelle! And hey, look at the bright side, you got good blog fodder out of it!

    1. Thanks, Greg...and LOL -- you've got a point there. *sigh* ;)

  4. That looks an awesome place. I'm gonna try to visit it. I'm pretty sure me and my friends are going to love it. Check out the Budget Hotels in Cebu City, you'll love it too. Anyway, Thanks for sharing!