Last year, I solemnly vowed that we’d never stay home during my kids’ spring break vacation again. After 10 unseasonably cold days cooped up inside, I promised that “next time” would be different. We’d book a tropical trip, a Disney World whirlwind or an end-of-season ski sojourn. I didn’t care where or what, as long as it meant we’d be away and outdoors and not in our usual element. Alas, here I am with just a few weeks to go before the break, and — oops — I’ve got nothing on the family calendar. I’m staring down a week and a half of unstructured free time. I can already hear the whines and chants: “I’m bored. I’m hungry. Mommm, he touched my faaaaace!” I could panic or spend a small fortune booking a last-minute resort in desperation. Or, I could take a deep breath and proactively plan some stellar family staycation ideas. (I’ve got this.)
If you’re holding down the fort this spring break, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to watch the kids wrestle, battle over screens and complain to you about their insatiable hunger. You can still find ways to make the most of this time off together and plan some cheap staycation ideas for spring break. Check out these eight creative ideas for family spring break ideas out of the sun.
Living Room Camp-out
Turn your family room into the ultimate sleepover spot. Set up real tents or playtime teepees, pile on the pillows and blankets and get all the fixings to make (microwave) s’mores. Sit around your faux campfire, roast your make-believe marshmallows, tell ghost stories and sing songs until you all fall asleep snuggling in your sleeping bags. Your kids will get a hoot out of having a big fam slumber party smack in the middle of the house — and you’ll get those quality bonding moments you’ve been craving. It’s a win-win.
Okay, so you missed the boat on that exotic all-inclusive trip to Mexico. Don’t sweat it — no passport, no problem. With a little imagination, some creative DIY touches and some fun spring break activities for kids, you can make your own beachy keen scene. How’s that? Put on your bathing suits and crank up the heat (just kidding). Here’s what you’ll need: Kinetic sand for the kids to play with, giant towels, pool inflatables for carpet “floating,” beach-worthy books and magazines, a portable speaker for music and mini paper umbrellas. Whip up a tropical-inspired signature mocktail and get your party on. The best thing about your very own man made beach: no sunburns and no seagulls.
Put on your fanny pack — it’s time to hit up a nearby city and explore. Who says you have to be an out-of-towner to be a tourist? Plan a local destination for each day of your children’s school break: a science museum here, an art exhibit there, a stop at the aquarium or a trip to the zoo—so much to do and see in your hometown, so little time.
Want the ultimate spring break staycation mom hack? Tell your kids you’re turning the bathroom into a spa, and book various appointments throughout the day. They’ll have fun playing with makeup and using silly animal-inspired facial masks. Then, you can have them return the favor by rubbing your feet and massaging your back (mom win!). Seriously though, you can do each other’s hair and paint each other’s nails and take turns soaking in bubble baths. Set the serene vibe by putting out big fluffy towels and robes and making a big batch of fruit-infused spa water.
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Dig all your old board games out of the attic, and snap up some new ones — it’s a full-day family gaming extravaganza. A few essentials to maximize the fun factor: Twister, Pictionary, Pie Face, Wet Head and Chow Crown. And speaking of chow, don’t forget the snacks — gaming and grazing go hand in hand.
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be absolutely overjoyed to take charge of a single day of plans. Map out the options and let them assume the roles of decision makers. Want to go out for pancakes or have cereal in front of the TV? It’s their call. Head to the arcade or check out that new indoor playground? It’s their adventure to choose! Take a nap or have a dance party? As if those hyper little hooligans even need a minute to weigh those options, but, hey, a mom can dream!
No need to change out of your pajamas. Bring all your creature comforts to the couch, and get ready for a whole day of “chillaxing.” Popcorn for breakfast, pizza for lunch, ice cream for dinner—that’s how to roll during an epic movie marathon staycation. (Now might be the time to get Cash Back on that Disney+ subscription you’ve been considering.)
Stock up on the ingredients to bake all the delicious delights your family loves, from classic chocolate-chip cookies to layered rainbow cakes and everything in between. Enjoy some quality kitchen time with the kiddos and put that healthy diet on hold for a while. Better yet, surprise your happy helpers with a super fun desserts-only cookbook, and let them pick any extravagant dessert to make together as a big group project—I’m talking fondant, piping and all the fancy techniques. No recipe is too ambitious; it doesn’t matter if it’s a total Pinterest fail, as long as you’re having fun together. (Hopefully, your wannabe #NailedIt creation will at least taste good, though.)
A fun spring break doesn’t require months of planning, hundreds of dollars and your sanity. These are some easy and fun spring break ideas for families on a budget, and the more involved the kids are, the more everyone will enjoy their time together. Don’t forget to shop with Rakuten to earn Cash Back on everything above!
Lauren is a digital editor, freelance writer, and Instagram aficionado with a feisty five-year-old boy and a sassy two-year-old diva at home. With a passion for family, travel, style, and alliteration, she spends her days chasing children, chugging coffee, and daydreaming about sleep. As a veteran lifestyle editor and media mom, Lauren loves to find ways to make the aspirational attainable for all the overwhelmed parents out there—because we really need to stick together! Lauren lives with her husband and kiddos in the suburbs of New York City.