Virtually every state in the country is under some form of lockdown or shelter-in-place order.
While it’s not fun under any circumstance, it’s particularly difficult to stay home when the weather turns warmer and our thoughts turn towards vacation plans.
Vacations may be cancelled for the time being, but that’s not stopping some innovative families from having the vacation of their dreams – without leaving the house.
Life’s a Beach
Yep, right now, life’s quite a beach for most of us. We’re bored, we’re worried, we’re getting a little too much family time… and the beaches are closed.
In their infinite wisdom, many state governors have shut down beaches so crowds won’t gather. Because, of course, they don’t think grown adults can be trusted to stay away from each other with miles of beaches available.
We all need a little sun on our faces and sand between our toes right about now, and families are not letting stay-at-home mandates get in the way of making that happen.
They’re trucking in sand — filling up a corner of the backyard or a kiddie pool in the living room. Some are so in need of the beach, they’re filling up their unfinished basements with soft, white grains and putting on those flip-flops.
They’re adding heat lamps, blow-up palm trees, pool floats, umbrellas, and beach towels. Those with an artistic flair are hand-painting large murals on sheets or the walls themselves. A distant sunset over the horizon is only an art project away.
Add some music, and don’t forget to pack up the cooler. Nothing brings out human imagination and creativity like being locked down by government decree.
The kids will love having a giant indoor sandbox and being allowed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fill up their kiddie pools and swim in the kitchen.
And don’t forget – a large tarp, an extended-cab pickup, and a garden hose are all you need to make your own backyard swimming pool!
At least state officials realized one important thing — ABC stores are essential businesses.
With enough alcohol and sand, you may really be able to imagine being on an island somewhere in the tropics. And, bonus: This is the best way to rock your mom or dad bod in the privacy of your own home.
That’s about the only way I’m getting a bathing suit on anytime soon.
So, this hashtag is making the rounds on social media as disappointed families are finding their Disney dream vacations cancelled due to park closures.
In the age of never allowing a child to be disappointed in any way, parents are spending hours, days – even weeks – recreating their favorite Disney rides inside their homes.
The trend seems to have started with a couple of Facebook posts created by families who had to cancel their upcoming Disney trips.
They went viral with their in-house recreation of the popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
There are plenty of dressed-up skeleton pirates, taken from the Halloween boxes stashed in the attic, music, props, and a couple of pirate dads drinking in corners of the house and shouting out “Aarrgghh, mateys” as the kids ride by.
A “Disney employee” greeted the kids at the door and loaded them on to the ride – an old toboggan on top of a blanket to slide across the floor. (**Note: One post shows family members riding the sled down the stairs to mimic the stomach-dropping end of the ride. Don’t be an idiot.)
The comments have been overwhelmingly positive, and hundreds of other families are coming up with their own Disney “stay-cay” ideas.
An indoor It’s a Small World was completed with hundreds of dolls, music, and family members dancing in costume.
And one enterprising guy created a realistic interpretation of my favorite ride, The Haunted Mansion, in his house. Just don’t mess up your wife’s favorite candlesticks or crystal. Otherwise, you may not make it out alive.
Parents are spending hours on YouTube watching actual footage of families at Disney pre-pandemic so they can exactly replicate tourist dress, costumes, speeches, and lines. They’re making Pinterest-inspired Dole Whip desserts and toasting up Mickey Mouse waffles.
You know you’ve got an old pair of Mickey ears laying around, so dig ‘em out, and get to work!
That’s what she shed…
She-Sheds have been a hot, new trend in the past year or so, especially for middle-aged women like me.
We live in a small home with a modest backyard, but I love the outdoors. I get very grumpy when I don’t have sunshine and fresh air – something my husband knows all-too-well.
When I showed signs of going completely insane last spring, we considered putting a sunroom on our house. But even by doing the work ourselves, it was just way over budget.
Enter my She-Shed – a pre-fab wood shed that I painted and furnished. Part art studio, part garden shed, part playhouse for our daughter. No boys allowed.
Many American women (and, thus, their husbands) have found peace in the She-Shed trend. I hear they’re even helping to lower the divorce rate.
Now, families are getting creative with their own sheds while under lockdown.
Home improvement stores are our new travel agents, and people all across the country are gathering supplies to make their backyard sheds a staycation haven.
They’re getting decked-out with twinkle lights, lanterns, and thatched rooves for a DIY Tiki-bar. Run an extension cord from the house, and you can even put in a mini-fridge to keep those beers cold.
Some are commandeering their kids’ playhouses and treehouses to make fantasy getaways like something out of Middle Earth, complete with costumes and fog machines.
They’re rummaging in the attic to make snowy mountain lodges with Christmas decorations, setting out the fire pits and sipping hot chocolate. (Better get to that one before the temperature rises to heatstroke proportions.)
The lawnmower may need to find a new home for a few months, but if making yourself a backyard sanctuary saves your sanity, I say go for it.
Anything is possible…
You can think up just about anything if you’re bored enough. And some of us are actually enjoying this period of slow-down and spending time with the kids.
You may be looking at some of these over-the-top ideas on YouTube and social media thinking, “Yeah, no, not filling my basement with sand.”
But some of my real-life friends – who obviously have more energy than I do – are finding ways to keep traveling the world right from their living rooms.
One had the kids create a menu, set the table with the good china, get dressed up, and cook a fancy dinner — decorating their kitchen like a fine French restaurant.
Another had their kids paint cardboard boxes to look like cars and turned their kitchen counter into a “concession stand” with popcorn and candy for a drive-in movie night in the backyard.
They’re putting up the tents and camping in the yard, telling stories by campfire and getting eaten alive by the first mosquitos of the season. Campgrounds are closed for the most part, so why not?
Now, don’t get me wrong – this stuff takes a lot of time, work, and creativity. For most of us home with the kids, our biggest achievement this week has been making a butterfly out of a coffee filter and pipe cleaner (or, excuse me, “chenille stem” for PC millennials).
But we’re all stuck right now… disappointed that our dream vacations are being put on hold.
We all have to do what we can to make the best of it, so why not treat yourself to the best staycation you could ever dream up?