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Tips For Adulthood: Five Things To Do On A Staycation

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. My family is doing a staycation this year. We’re taking a few local trips here and there. But...

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

My family is doing a staycation this year. We’re taking a few local trips here and there. But mostly – due to assorted work deadlines and exhaustion from our recent move – we’ll be at home in London.

Apparently, we’re not alone. Here in the U.K., a combination of airline strikes and the Eurozone debt crisis have prompted many more British people to holiday at home this year. In the United States, the whole concept of staycation (a word now enshrined in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) has shifted from being a temporary outgrowth of the financial crisis to a social phenomenon that’s here to stay.

I love London, so I don’t really mind being here in the summer. Still, the longer days, warmer weather, and changes to the kids’ schedules do inspire me to do things a bit differently, if for no other reason than to shake up my own routine.

So if, like me, this is a summer when you’re going to give traveling a pass, here are some ways to mark the occasion:

1. Discover a new place. One way to make a staycation feel special is to travel somewhere new near your home. This might be a new museum, a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try or that park that’s just a bit too far to visit during the school year. At the top of my list is to take a backstage tour of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London’s oldest theatre. On their tours, a group of actors perform key events from this theatre’s rich history while you look around. I may even (gasp) do this on my own, since I don’t think any of my friends or family members quite shares my thespian enthusiasm. (Adulthood fantasy #6 is where I manage a community theatre troupe in which I also make the occasional cameo. Hey, we all need to dream…)

2. Get a new toy. Usually, we associate the novelty of a new toy with children. But it’s equally valid for adults, who also need to play. This year, my summer treat to myself is a bicycle. Because our new house is located considerably further from the kids’ schools and assorted other activities, I find that I’m often in motion between the hours of three and five on any given afternoon. And so we finally broke down and bought a bike for me on Ebay. It’s one of those funky collapsible things – (a Brompton, for those in the know) – because I’ll need to take it on the Tube and the bus with the kids. Bonus? I feel terribly hip and urban. Bonus-by-association? Guess who’s got a handy new gadget to play with?

3. Learn a new skill. “It’s like riding a bike.” The only problem with that old chestnut is that it only means something if you actually *know* how to ride a bike. In light of our staycation, my husband and I took the command decision that this was an opportune time to teach my nine year-old how to ride a bike. (I know, I know. Ridiculously late to be teaching him this life skill, especially since his six year-old sis has been bike riding for more than a year. What can I say? We’re bad parents.) But we’re on it now, and – in light of #2 – it also means that we can now go for family bike rides.

4. Tackle something on your “dreaded” to-do list. I once wrote a post entitled “Five Ways To Get On Top Of Your To Do List.” One of the strategies I recommended was to divide your to-do list in half into long-term and short-term items. The idea was to tick something off of the short list every day, and to take a step towards removing something on the long list every week. I think this strategy works very well. But it does pre-suppose that every so often, you really do take that crucial step on the dreaded (long) to-do list. In my case, I’ve had “clean rugs” on there for – oh, you really don’t want to know how long. But darn it if I didn’t pluck up my courage yesterday and call around for some estimates. (Needless to say – and like most of the “dreaded” tasks – contemplation was much worse than execution.) And now I feel so much better as a result. Up next? Wash duvet cover…

5. Read some really long books. Let’s face it. We all have a list of books on our bedside table which – tempting as they might seem – we never get around to reading because they’re just too long. And I don’t mean the medicinal ones that you feel you *ought* to read so that you’re up to speed on such and such a topic. (Eternal Message of Muhammed anyone? Oh, is that just me?) No, I mean the really good ones that entail a level of commitment that’s just beyond your comfort level during a busy week. I just finished the third volume in the highly addictive Dragon Tattoo series – The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. Now I’m on to Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall. Up next? Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. If time, there’s always Tolstoy’s War and Peace. No, seriously. Don’t laugh.

What are you doing this summer around home?


For those who are interested, I’m over on Politics Daily today talking about a lawsuit against the British government on the grounds of gender discrimination in its new austerity budget.

Image: Very early Brompton (number 333) by marcus_jb1973 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  1. BigLittleWolf August 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    I like these ideas for a “staycation.” My kids have been away doing part work, part academic, part “play” things, but I’ve been all about #4 on your list above. And while it’s been unpleasant, it’s also satisfying to tackle something important, and make progress. Sometimes that’s easier when kids are on vacation, and for adults, it makes for a fully acceptable staycation.

  2. Sarah August 4, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    and where did you get the brilliant drury lane idea from? and i loved war and peace – it’s a total pageturner. wolf hall, on the other hand…. already tried it once and couldn’t stomach it. not looking forward to trying again.

    and i’m still trying to find a brompton on ebay. any guidance on best models and a fair price?

    • delialloyd August 5, 2010 at 6:51 am #

      yes, Sarah -wanted to credit you but couldn’t think of title of your new blog! re: brompton-i’ll put you in touch w/my hubby who is much better on ebay…

  3. Patricia August 5, 2010 at 2:05 am #

    Wow the Internet is full of to do lists and how to use them today…do we all have back to school on our minds or fear of getting summer over and not having completed a thing…
    JD at Sources of Insight is doing a 30 day series on Agile success based on his book

    and at Erase the Bored Suzen is thinking about how useful and successful to do lists can be…

    I think I need to get a huge piece of butcher paper for my summer one and use the flip side for fall..
    oops got to go pick the blueberries :)

  4. Cecilia August 6, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    Great list and good for you for thinking this through before you embark on your staycation. I tried going on one myself and failed miserably, in large part because I was the only one in my family doing it. This translated my staycation into full time homemaking (!). But I did try to learn a new skill (swimming) and I got a few long books under my belt. Speaking of Tolstoy, Anna Karenina’s on my list (and has been since 1998…)

  5. delialloyd August 6, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    yes, @cecilia, it is key that everyone be doing the same thing or it doesn’t work! I would say put AK at the top of your reading list. Cheers!


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