Top News

HEATHER HUYBREGTS: Staycations can prove rewarding, although some planning is highly recommended

Heather Huybregts recently took her family on an impromptu trip to the beach. Although unplanned, the “staycation” ended up being just what they needed. CONTRIBUTED
Heather Huybregts recently took her family on an impromptu trip to the beach. Although unplanned, the “staycation” ended up being just what they needed. CONTRIBUTED

Staycation. It’s the buzzword right now. Sure, the “Atlantic bubble” permits us to hop about the eastern islands like the giddy, Celtic fiddlers we are. But I’m certainly not lining up to endure a seven hour boat ride with two small children wearing their masks as headbands and touching every possible handrail and button they come across before rubbing their faces for no reason.

So we will stay. And ’cation we will. But not in a trendy way – we haven’t actually planned any family tours of the island, sipping craft beers and pointing at whales and cuddling puffins. I agree, that sounds great, but let’s not forget: we’re all broke. While I was grateful for CERB, it hardly allowed me to stuff dolla-dolla bills into the “let’s rent a house in some artistically-resuscitated fishing village just cause jar.”

Nonetheless, mama has begun to get stir-crazy. I love my family and I love my home, but sometimes the combination is electrifying. No, no, not in an exhilarating way. More like a “oh dear God, I’ve been attacked by an electric eel and am paralyzed and sinking into imminent doom” way.

So on Saturday morning, as I ran my hand over the various textures of dried food-crud on my kitchen island and listened to my kids fight about who gets to hold the broken Happy Meal Toy (that no one cared about before this moment of mutual obsession), and gazed upon my husband, a semi-conscious, six-foot-six, flack o’ dough lying on the couch nursing a mysterious bout of the Irish flu . . . I knew we needed to get the blazes outta Dodge.

“That’s it!”, I yelled, not at anyone in particular, clapping my hands three times loudly to really hit home the point (Side note: There is something so gratifying about really landing solid claps. It’s a skill that I was not born with. Usually my claps sound like those of a feeble infant, just learning that he, indeed, has two hands. Saturday morning, I nailed the claps).

“We are leaving. We’re going. Everyone get your shoes on.”

Three identical pairs of brown eyes looked at me with bewilderment, a mixture of intrigue and terror in the largest (and most bloodshot) pair.

“Where are we going?” asked my oldest.

“Doesn’t matter. The beach? Wanna go to a beach? Somewhere out of town?”

“Yaaaaaaay!” the boys cried in unison over the sound of their father’s guttural wail of despair.

Shoving all bodies out the front door, I realized I had, in no way, prepared for this. And it was almost lunch time.

And as I was choosing this day to have a nervous breakdown instead of getting groceries, we were out of practical, picnicky things. I managed to scrounge up a couple brown bananas, some granola bars and two frozen hamburger buns; I threw the latter of those bad boys in the toaster, burned them, pretended not to notice, slathered their charred remains with peanut butter –the natural kind: because flavour and pleasant mouth-feel is for wussies – wrapped them in tinfoil and headed out the door.

The drive to our destination was one hour. Ten minutes in the eldest youngster insisted that he hadn’t been properly informed that this impromptu trip was going to take THIS LONG. The youngest happily ate 13 servings of Goldfish from the bag he found in the backseat and passed out. Win!

As lunch time whizzed by with the miles, I felt we deserved a treat. Plus, I handle hypoglycemia the way I handle small talk: it’s sweaty, dramatic, unnecessarily loud and off-putting to those around me. So I bypassed our turn-off and headed to a local “must-have” pizza joint to grab a couple slices; veggie for me, of course, because the squishy, crunch-flecked surprise of flesh in my teeth is a Fear Factor-esque experience I’ve been semi-successfully dodging most of my adult life.

“No veggie,” announced the lady behind the counter, who greeted me by avoiding eye contact and continuing her conversation with her friend, as I pawed longingly at the glass case of slices. “You’ll have at least a 15-minute wait.”

Since the kids already felt like they’d been kidnapped for three weeks, I opted against prolonging this. I grabbed three mystery-meat slices for the boys, and left.

The aroma of pizza filled the car and taunted my raw, coiling stomach. I opened the sad, burnt paste burger, peeled my rotten banana and reminded myself: “This is fun. We’re staycationing!”

“To the beach”, I exclaimed, with over-acted enthusiasm that may have appeared more manic than joyful.

Despite protests from the backseat, we only had to backtrack 15 minutes before we found ourselves turning into the “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it” parking lot of our destination. And thanks be to Our Blessed Lady Beyoncé we didn’t blink. This beach was breathtaking! Miles of soft sand in each direction. Ocean waves lapping the shoreline. Sea birds seemingly floating, like kites, on nothing, their wings extended and still.

I didn't have the adult foresight to bring buckets, shovels, towels, blankets . . . but it didn’t really matter. The sand was fine. I laid on my back and, below the breeze, the sun was warm and soothing. I turned my head just enough to see the boys squealing with laughter as the waves rolled over their toes.

I closed my eyes and finally took a breath. I couldn’t think of a thing, in that moment, to worry about. And I guess that’s the point of any vacation, whether you’re staying or going: to just stop.

A few unexpectedly blissful hours later, the boys – rosy-cheeked, soaked and covered head to toe with mud and sand – rode home in their underwear, and were asleep before we left the parking lot.

There is something rewarding and renewing about flailing your way through an adulting/parenting misadventure and succeeding, especially when you don’t have a sweet, newborn whisper of a clue what you’re doing in most adult things.

So maybe there is something to this staycation hype. You just need enough cash for a tank of gas and a few pizza slices. Zero preparation required . . . although recommended, where possible!

Heather Huybregts is a mother, physiotherapist, blogger, YouTuber and puffin whisperer from Corner Brook, NL. Her column appears biweekly.

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories