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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 4, 2010

Making the best of family 'staycation'


By Michael C. DeMattos

This year, like last, my family and I decided to stay home for spring break. Staying home can get a bit tricky because it is easy to get lost in the daily activities of hearth and home and forget to take a break. In fact, just after getting back to the job, I asked one of my co-workers how her break went and she replied, "It was very productive." If being productive was her goal, then I guess her break was a success. For me, it would have been a failure. The last thing I wanted was to be productive. What I needed was a getaway.

Alas, a tough economy complete with pay cuts and forced administrative leave rained on my vacation parade and the staycation became our last best option. To make sure that we enjoyed our break in these troubled times we started by making a list of things we hoped to do during our much-needed, yet forced staycation.

My wife, daughter and I held a family meeting and listed all the things we hoped to do on our spring break. My daughter's list was long and included the beach, some shopping, a sleepover or two, and breakfast at Crepes No Ka Oi. My wife wanted to visit the Arizona Memorial (she had never been), go on a hike, spend the day at the beach, and go out on a date. Me? I just wanted to squeeze in a round of golf and spend the rest of my time with the family.

We didn't set any rules for our staycation, though being thrifty was assumed. We quickly scratched out an itinerary and found a home for every item on our wish list.

As the week came to a close, the notches on our staycation holster grew. We didn't get a thing done at home I made no repairs, my wife vacuumed once, but was far from her neurotic housecleaning self, and my daughter all too willingly kept chores to a minimum but we had fun and somehow managed to get away from it all even though we never technically left home.

There are many reasons to go on vacation, but four stand out above the rest: discovery, relaxation, recreation, and reconnecting with family. During our weeklong stay-at-home getaway we accomplished all four. Ironically, each of us found the most joy on the other's wish list. My daughter loved Mom's hike to the Makapu'u lighthouse; Mom enjoyed the post-golf barbecue with our hānai family on the North Shore; and I loved revisiting the Arizona Memorial after nearly 25 years.

Yes, our staycation was a success. We got away without leaving home. We were decidedly unproductive and yet got a lot done. We saved a few coins, but managed to gather up several precious family memories. The only thing missing the plane flight. Maybe next year we will start our staycation at the airport!

Michael C. DeMattos is on faculty at the University of Hawai'i Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Born and raised on the Wai'anae Coast, he now lives in Kāne'ohe with his wife, daughter, two dogs and two mice.