Family Vacations That Won’t Break the Bank

When most of us think of family vacations, we think about big trips to the beach or a week-long getaway across the country. However, COVID-19 has changed many of our summer plans, and many military families struggle to save enough throughout the year to make this a reality regardless. But just because you can’t take a trip to the beach, that doesn’t mean you can’t make fun summer memories away from home. I’d like to share my five summer vacation ideas that won’t break the bank.

  1. Arrange a backyard getaway. The easiest, least expensive vacay is somewhere you might least expect. Look no further than your backyard. Sleeping out under the stars is an awesome adventure, and planning around clear skies and maybe a meteor shower will set the tone for some pretty awesome family memories. If you don’t have a backyard, another great idea is setting up a fort in your living room and sleeping under your very own design. Don’t forget the flashlights and ghost stories!
  2. A staycation is the perfect way to get away without the road trip. Every city has some type of fun, unexpected tour. Booking a day full of local adventures always produces some surprising fun. Not to mention most of us haven’t grown up in the city we live in. It’s fun to take the time and get to know fun facts about all the towns we get assigned to. Finding treasures in every location we are can really make time fly and help us appreciate places we never thought we would.
  3. Go camping or backpacking. There’s nothing like spending some quality time in nature. Roasting marshmallows and breakfast around a campfire are the perfect ingredients for family memories that never fade. Not to mention they are pretty inexpensive. There are endless activities for kids while camping too. Games, hiking, animal scavenger hunts, swimming, are just a few. Don’t forget the hammock for naps.
  4. Check out bed and breakfasts in your area for a romantic getaway. Chances are they are closer than you think. I live in pretty rural Oklahoma and can get to a bed and breakfast within an hour. And they will have good recommendations for fun attractions in the area.
  5. Pack up and go stay with some friends. This is way too underrated. It’s easier than ever to stay connected with friends these days. And when you only have to pay for gas and food, it’s a lot easier to swing an out-of-state vacation. Don’t forget the games! In fact, fun friend-cation can quickly turn into yearly reunions.

Sometimes we need to get creative to make memories with our families. Memories from vacations last a lifetime, regardless of how big or fancy the trip is. And in this whirlwind military life, it’s important to make time to focus on being together as a family.

Free Summer Adventures for MilKids

It’s finally summer, and parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief that they no longer have to continue school and homework activities with their kids every day. COVID-19 isolation restrictions are lifting in some areas, and military kids are ready to return to a sense of normalcy and a summer full of fun!

But with this newfound freedom comes a new problem: families now need to figure out what to do with their kids at home all summer, when most large group gatherings like camps and classes are still on hold. Now that there are no longer homework assignments to complete, what summer plans do your kids have besides endless hours of screen time? Are you searching for safe ways to keep your kids active and learning, without risking exposure to large groups that may spread the virus? Then the MWR Summer Reading Program may be the perfect solution for you and your kids.

During a normal summer (one that doesn’t involve recovering from a pandemic), installation libraries are a great resource with a variety of activities for military kids. The annual MWR Summer Reading program may look a bit different this year. If your installation library is not yet open to patrons due to COVID-19, don’t worry – you can virtually join your community and read this summer. Adults and children can participate and record summer reading minutes from home with any book—whether it’s from the bookshelf at home or an eBook or audiobook accessible for free through the MWR Digital Library.

Find your local installation library online for more information on how you and your family can virtually participate in this year’s MWR Summer Reading program. Your library will have information on how to record your minutes and may provide reading suggestions for all age ranges.

The Summer Reading Program is an excellent way for families to encourage reading. Kids who claim they don’t like reading will be motivated to read a few minutes each day and kids who already love reading will be excited to spend their afternoons quietly curled up with a good book. As a parent, you can feel good about keeping your child’s mind and imagination sharp during summer break. Reading provides great opportunities for growth and development.

I have five kids, four of them in school, and we have participated in the Summer Reading Program at our base library every year since they were toddlers. It has been one consistent part of our summer routine, no matter where we were stationed. This summer, we will continue to participate in the virtual MWR Summer Reading Program. I encourage you to check out the opportunity at your installation library, and get your kids signed up for a summer of reading adventures.

Social Media and Your Mental Well-Being

Social media can be a great thing, especially during this uncertain time. We can stay connected to friends and family, get news and information, and discover ideas from new ways to exercise at home to art projects to do with kids. However, there may be times when social media can trigger feelings of uncertainty, anger, frustration and sadness, especially during these times of uncertainty.

One of my counseling professors said that when people are distressed, adding more information to distressed system often is of no help at all…in fact, sometimes it can make things worse. Imagine a pool that is filled to the very top. If you add more water, it just overflows. Pretty soon the yard is flooded, and the water bill is sky high with no return on your investment. The same can be said for scrolling through social media during this time IF you are feeling negative emotions. Any news regarding COVID-19, messages that tell us we should be getting more done during this time, stories about all the weight we might gain, seeing how others are home schooling – sometimes seeing all of this can actually make us feel worse.

As this pandemic goes on, each day may feel different for everyone, both physically and mentally. Some days I can scroll through social media and feel okay but on other days, this information does nothing good for me. I find myself feeling sad, frustrated, angry and anxious.

If you are wondering how social media may be impacting you, especially during this unprecedented time, ask yourself some questions. When I see this, how do I feel in my physical body? In my mind? In my heart and gut? If negative emotions come up maybe some time away from social media could be helpful. Additionally, curating your social media by unfollowing anything and anyone that makes you feel bad gives a sense of empowerment and is a good ‘decluttering’ project. Lastly, are you scrolling out of boredom? Habit? Take a breath before you open an app and ask yourself if this is really what you want to do right now. If the answer is no, honor that. Social media will still be there when you get back.

All Over

“All over” was a vague term in my pre-mother days, most often used as hyperbole. Now, “all over” was literal and I was looking at it. I was stunned when I saw …
Read More — "All Over"

Featured Topics