It’s easy to get discouraged by all the Facebook and Instagram posts of the incredible vacations all of my friends get to take…Italy, Alaska, NYC, some private island in the Caribbean. Well, I’m a single mom on a budget. And by a budget, I mean I’m about 30 bucks short each month. Which also means no exotic travel, or travel at all.
So, when my three kids and I took our vacation last summer we had a staycation. It could not have been more magical and amazing. On Monday morning as I sat on Zuma beach watching my kids play in the surf, I opened an email from my mom and she had bought us passes to Universal Studios Hollywood. Tuesday morning I woke up to a text from a friend. She had 4 passes to Pacific Park (a theme park on the Santa Monica Pier) that were about to expire and she couldn’t use them. She was asking if we could use them. Oh yeah! This week was going to be great!
We are a very energetic and active group so the day we went to Universal, we got there at 8 a.m. standing at the entry when they opened the gates. We stayed the entire day dragging our tails back through those very same gates at 11p.m.
We carried with us a backpack full of food and snacks, allowing ourselves to purchase a donut that was the size of a large pizza for a treat. Who wouldn’t love that? When we went to the pier, we didn’t get there when they opened instead we spent a couple of hours on muscle beach playing on the gym equipment; free beach, gym equipment for my gymnasts/dancer group. How could we not? But we did stay at the pier until they closed at midnight. It was such a wonderful bit of family time when we got to act like tourists in our hometown. We didn’t have to set a clock and didn’t have to answer to anyone.
My absolutely favorite part of our staycation was one created by my creative originals, my three children. Our living room is cozy with a sofa on one side of the room and a love seat parallel to it. The middle space was just begging for some attention. On Monday night (the first night of staycation) I went to take a shower before we cuddled in for family movie night.
When I got out, I found that the empty space between the love seat and sofa had been transformed into a giant bed. The kids had pulled out two twin mattresses from their beds and they fit just perfectly into that space. They had piled a mound of pillows, featherbeds and comforters on top. It was so comfortable, sweet and fun. That became our living and sleeping space for the entire week. We’d watch movies until we could no longer keep our eyes open, fall asleep on the masterpiece of a bed and wake up the next morning surrounded by each other, really surrounded by love.
While we didn’t get to travel to Istanbul or Ithaca, we got to travel to the land of Anderson. We didn’t have money for any extra outings or souvenirs; we did have enough for a week filled with love (and several incidents of loud voices, sibling rivalry and real world reality, don’t kid yourself, we aren’t that picture perfect!!).
As much as we would have loved to take a trip to see my family in Georgia over any exotic locale, we truly enjoyed our staycation. Even my children didn’t want the staycation to end…in fact the “family bed” lasted for a couple of weeks until I could no longer tolerate not being able to walk through a whole section of our house. I learned that there is always a bright side, there are always angels with gifts, and the greatest gift is enjoying what you do have, not moaning and groaning about what you do not have. Making what will last, memories of the Anderson Summer Family Staycation.
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