Recently, my husband, Andy, and I talked about going away for the weekend. But, with the cost, the packing, the organizing, the hiring of dog and cat sitters and the travel arrangements, it seemed more like a headache than a vacation. So, ,we decided to commit to a stay-cation. As in, remain in our own house. For two days. Without the kids. I found myself lounging around my house in a way that I never do. I put chores to the side, played music, took a late afternoon nap and let go of all responsibilities.
For one or two days, you can create an incredibly relaxing alternative to a vacation. You’ll feel recharged, refreshed and ready to get back into that hectic world of yours. Here’s how you do it.
1. Clear a day on your calendar
Take one day (or two) out of your schedule and clear it. No food shopping. No lawn mowing. No appointments. No dry-cleaning. No paying bills. Does this freak you out to have one full day and no to-do list? If this is going to be a vacation—then you need to commit to taking a break from your daily household chores, right? Right.
2. Appreciate where you, not where you could be
Once your day is cleared, the next step to enjoying your one-day vacation is to appreciate where you are. We didn’t try to open up the beach chairs and pretend we were in the Caribbean. Sorry, dipping my feet in the baby pool is not going to take the place of a turquoise sea. I don’t care what the magazines tell you—there is no substitution for a white sandy beach and sipping on Pina Coladas. Instead of wishing you were somewhere else, be in the moment. Enjoy your space.
3. Ask yourself what you feel the most pleasure doing
What do you like to do on vacation? Do you like massages? Yoga? Napping? Maybe you like to cook? I booked a massage on our stay-cation because pampering is important to me. I also went food shopping (grilled salmon with mango salsa, yum) because cooking relaxes me. While I cooked I caught up on some television because usually while I’m cooking, Dora the Explorer is blaring in the background. If cooking and massage isn’t your thing, then plan a hike or go ahead and be active. Go to a museum. Write in your journal. Would you rather be a hermit and nuzzle into your couch? This is about what you want to do.
4. Take a media break
I work online, I love watching movies, I obsessively check my email, I’m glued to twitter and I try to defeat my son in Star Wars Lego Wii every chance I get. You know what I did on our stay-cation? I unplugged. Since we’ve collectively become media addicts, this is not easy. My phone spoke to me like that plant from The Little Shop of Horrors. “Feed me, Hayley,” it chanted. “The world is waiting for you,” it said. No! I told it. The world is going to have to wait.
Study after study shows how distracted we are as a society. If not in the car, then at home. If not at home, then at work. We don’t take breaks from technology—instead, we turn to technology for a break. A psychologist I interviewed for a story about why boredom is good for kids explained to me that children today don’t have the benefit of knowing when or why they should take a break from technology. Here’s the thing. We do know what it means to OD on the computer. We also know the importance of taking a walk in the woods or simply sitting on your back patio with a cup of coffee. So what’s stopping you? This stay-cation is about recharging your mind and body—not your phone.
5. Spoil Yourself
When you think of indulging yourself as you would on vacation, what comes to mind? Ice cream? Sleep? Reading the entire Sunday edition of the New York Times cover-to-cover? My version of indulgence is eating half a bar of dark chocolate. That and popcorn covered in a mix of curry powder and nutritional yeast. And I mean the entire bag. This is not the time to skimp! You’ve got two days—enjoy whatever your indulgence may be without the guilt.