15 Fun and Economical Family Activities for a Track Out Staycation

So, what do you do with a kid for a 6 week Track Out Staycation?

Little Bit goes to a year-round school with a 9 week on, 3 week off schedule with added days for  holidays like Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.

That means this week she tracks out until the second week of December.  At that point, she’ll go to school for 2 weeks, then take off for two more for her Christmas break. So, over the next 8 weeks, she’ll only be in school for 2.

This summer, Bit had 5 weeks between graduating preschool and starting Kindergarten, then another 3 weeks off at the end of August. We filled the time with a week of camp, visiting a family member’s lake house, and near daily visits to the pool.

None of those options are available in November and December.

I need to come up with a plan that keeps her busy and entertained enough so that I can study for the final in my tax prep class, work on the blog, and start a new job. We’re too busy to try for an out of town vacation this track out, but I want my daughter to have a memorable and enjoyable time.

Our family’s schedule is relatively free, other than Thursdays when Little Bit takes a theater class in the late afternoon. We’ll go out of town a couple of days for Thanksgiving, and will be busy for the days right around Christmas.

I can probably get away with a 4 or 5 days of unscheduled free play, but she’ll get bored staying home pretty quickly.  Over the next two months, I need to come up with at least 4 weeks’ worth of track out staycation activities that are fun, feel special, and are not particularly expensive.

Here’s what I have so far:

Free Activities for a Track Out Staycation:

Library trips: We haven’t made a library trip in over a month, and we need to pick out some new reading material for break. Looking at the local schedule, they seem to have a primary school program on Tuesday afternoons that might be worth exploring.  We can probably go at least twice, maybe three times.

Parks: Always a good option for meeting and playing with other kids. We have our regular park and playground, but it might be a good time to go exploring some other venues. Depends on the weather, but we should be able to go out a few times.

Art Museum: I’ve been wanting to take Bit to the Art Museum for a while, and I know she wants to go. I want to get a “scavenger hunt” to make it more fun to go through the galleries. As long as we don’t go to the special exhibits or buy souvenirs, it won’t cost anything. One Time activity.

Breaking out the game systems: Somewhere in my basement I have a Wii that has been packed away since before Little Bit was born. I see three possibilities here: She’ll try it once and be bored (which is what happened with my old DS), she’ll love it but want me to play with her all of the time, or we’ll have trouble getting the controller out of her hand. Am I a bad mom for hoping it’s the last one? Most of the activities I can think of require a fair amount of my time and attention.

Back Yard Camp Out: We’ve been talking about a back yard campout for ages, and November in North Carolina can be comfortably cool. Assuming that the monsoons we’ve been having don’t continue and the weather doesn’t turn too cold, it might be fun to go ahead with our evening under the stars. At the very least, I expect we’ll be able to have a bonfire and cookout.

Boy in ball pitNot Particularly Expensive (Less than $30) Activities for a Track Out Staycation

Science Museum: We’re museum members, so we can catch “Extreme Mammals” without paying any extra fees. We will, however, have to pay for downtown parking. One time activity.

Kid’s Museum: Admission for 3 and parking will run around $20, but this is one of my daughter’s favorite things to do.

Movie Matinee: Little Bit knows exactly when The Good Dinosaur comes out and has a countdown until it comes out in theaters going. As long as we pay matinee prices and smuggle snacks in, we’ll come in under $20 for the three of us. There’s also the possibility of going to the second-run theater, where tickets are $2 each. Right now, though, we’ve seen all of the kid-appropriate movies it’s showing. Jon said he’d take one for the team and watch Minions again so I could study.

Lunch out: Going out to lunch feels special because we rarely do it, even though it can be more economical than going out for dinner. Little Bit would be happy to eat McNuggets and play on the Mickey D’s playground, but I don’t think I can face the Golden Arches more than once a month. I’m going to suggest that Mickey D’s might need to be another Daddy-Daughter activity.  Little Bit has been asking to go out to eat, so all three of us might have to do brunch one day at our favorite all-day breakfast place as a special treat. Pancakes!

Trampoline Park: Raleigh has a couple of different trampoline businesses, and they aren’t particularly inexpensive, unless you use a Groupon.  It looks like there are offers that will allow us to try one for around $20. It’s not the cheapest activity, but it would probably be memorable and fun.

Seasonal Track Out Staycation Ideas

Christmas Decorating: Trimming the tree should take up at least one day and feel special and different, even if it doesn’t get us out of the house.

Driving around to look at Christmas lights: We are moderate holiday decorators: a tree, an advent calendar, a single lightup reindeer and Santa Yoda on the porch. All 3 of us love to go look at the houses that go to extreme lengths to decorate for Christmas. We generally take an evening or two, pile in the car and drive around to take in the lights.

Ice Skating: Little Bit has asked several times to go ice skating, so I’ve checked out the prices for open sessions. It Looks like I can take Bit ice skating for $15, including skate rental ($24 if her Dad goes too).

Christmas Shopping: I’ll probably take Little Bit out to buy  little gifts for her Dad and grandparents at Five Below (where the max price is $5). Hopefully her Dad will do the same, so this might be a two day activity.

Making treats: Little Bit’s ambition is to go on Master Chef Junior, so cooking anything with her Mom or Nana makes her feel special. We do cookies regularly, but last year made some chocolate-covered pretzels as a fun Christmas treat.  We need to come up with some new kid-friendly recipes and will probably need some special ingredients.

So there’s my list of 16 fun and economical activities for our track out staycation.  Some of the entries on the list are seasonal, but others can be done just as easily in July. Some can be done more than once.

I know I’ll hear the inevitable “Mommm, I’m bored!” several times over the next couple of months. With this list, we’ll try to keep that complaint to a minimum and give my daughter a memorable and entertaining school break.

Any suggestions for fun and inexpensive (or moderately priced) activities during a track out staycation or other long break from school? How do you keep your kids busy while you get work done?

2 Responses to “15 Fun and Economical Family Activities for a Track Out Staycation”
  1. Hannah 11/16/2015
    • Emily Jividen 11/16/2015

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