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How to Make Summer At Home Feel Like a Vacation


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The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for everyone, including our college students.

First, their campuses and residence halls closed. Then their graduation ceremonies were cancelled. And now, internships and summer jobs are up in the air.

No one knows exactly when life will get back to normal, or how this summer will unfold. One thing we do know is that it won’t be a typical summer of baseball games, outdoor concerts, travel, and trips to theme parks or even the cineplex.

How can your family use this time to still get the break you all deserve? 

Discover the Joys of a Staycation

A staycation is exactly what it sounds like: figuring out how to enjoy the luxuries of a vacation while staying at home.

You already have the “stay” part down solid, but what about the “cation”? You may not be able to go on a cruise or fly to Mexico this summer, but there’s a lot you can do right at home to make the season special.

Here are some summer ideas for college students and their families to enjoy together at home:

Host a mini movie festival
  • Pick a theme, like Oscar winners or ‘80s coming-of-age flicks, and choose 2–3 films.
  • Does anyone have a projector you could borrow so you can watch it on a wall — or even outside after dark on the side of your house?
  • Set aside a lazy day or evening to enjoy movies without a care in the world, and don't forget the popcorn!
Organize a self-care day

Everyone’s idea of “self-care” is different — the point is to have a day where you don’t work, you don’t have a to-do list, and you stay off social media and out of your email.

For your student, a self-care day might mean a video game marathon without any obligations. Or it could be setting aside time to give themselves a mini spa day, or baking all their favorite treats. To each their own!

Get ready for when you CAN travel again by learning a new language

A free app like Duolingo makes learning a new language a lot of fun, in addition to exercising your brain in a rewarding and productive way.

Other language learning apps include:

Brush up on your storytelling skills

Sign up for an online writing workshop to try your hand at a memoir, fiction writing, poetry, scriptwriting and more! A few options to consider:

Cook alongside world-class chefs on Instagram Live

With restaurants closed around the world, chefs are turning to social media to connect with hungry foodies.

On Instagram Live, New York Times Cooking hosts cook-alongs or pre-scheduled dinner parties that thousands of people can participate in together from home.

Try your hand at a drawing class

Instagram is the social media home base of thousands of fantastic artists, many who lead free drawing classes through live video streams on the platform. Some of our favorites include:

Get into yoga

If you or your college student are facing a lot of stress and anxiety right now, yoga might be the perfect at-home exercise. All you need is a simple mat, which you can order online. You’ll find hundreds of free and paid yoga courses on the internet.

Here’s a great place to start with free classes on YouTube >

Go on a virtual vacation

Many world-class museums and art galleries make their collections available online. Google Arts & Culture is an amazing resource that provides 3D walk-throughs of hundreds of museums, close-up looks at famous paintings, views of national parks, and more.

You can also use Google Street View to explore entire new cities “on foot.”

Get in touch with nature (from home)

The Live Nature Cams YouTube channel is a fantastic collection of high-definition, live stream video from remote wildlife sites around the world. Watch sharks in tropical reefs, baby bald eagles in high-up nests, and more, all from the comfort of your couch.

Or how about taking a video walk through some of Yellowstone's most iconic vistas, or enjoying virtual tours of other national parks?

Work your way through your to-read list

Has that pile of books next to your bed been collecting dust? There’s never been a better time to catch up. If you need new titles, visit your local library’s website. The library itself may be closed, but you can still rent audiobooks and eBooks online.

Break out the board games

When your student was younger, they probably loved Candy Land and Monopoly. If their tastes have matured since then, don’t worry — board games have kept up. There are thousands to choose from, from silly to serious, and you can order online to have them shipped to your house.

Bonus fun: a lot of games have online or app versions that you and your student can play with friends and family over the internet.

Start the garden

As springtime comes into full bloom, it’s time to start thinking about your garden. If in the past you were too busy to stay on top of watering and weeding, this just might be the year you develop your green thumb.

If you don’t have space for a garden, you can nurture potted vegetable plants and herbs in the window or on your patio or balcony. It’s a fun hobby that you and your student can do together.

Plus, if all goes well, the fruits of your labor might just make a star appearance at your dinner table later this summer. Who’s hungry?

Hang out with friends over FaceTime
  • Encourage your student to stay connected with school friends using videoconferencing apps like FaceTime or Zoom. It helps to set a regular schedule so the meet-ups don’t fall by the wayside. You should be doing this with your friends, too!
  • Try turning these virtual get-togethers into a group activity, like a book or music club. Or watch a movie together using the screen-sharing feature of Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Keep in mind that a staycation doesn’t necessarily have to mean staying inside your house all summer.

As states start to relax stay-at-home orders, there are opportunities for you and your family to safely explore your local area.

State and national parks with lots of space are especially good candidates for local day trips that are amenable to social distancing. Camping, hiking, cycling and fishing are all ways to take advantage of the outdoors while staying safe.

As always, be careful to avoid crowded parking lots and any other hotspots that make maintaining a 6-foot distance between yourself others impossible. Wear masks if needed, travel with disinfecting wipes, avoid touching your face, and clean your hands often.

More guidance on coronavirus safety is available on the CDC website >

Start Planning Your Post-Coronavirus Adventures

Cancelled trips and postponed outings are no fun. One thing that can make it all a little easier to swallow is planning your next trip now.

If you're not ready to dive in and book flights and hotels, start by taking virtual tours of places you want to visit, picking out the sites you’ll see, the food you’ll devour, and the activities you’ll enjoy.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!


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"Right now, we’re just trying to loosen up the knots and iron out the wrinkles and that’s going to take some time. We’re stuck in this place of uncertainty as no one really knows how this is all going to go. We're all feeling lots of emotions that surface unpredictably while we wonder about the weeks and months ahead. Each one of us is working on accepting many cancellations and grieving the loss of our once busy lives. We're all conflicted and confused, disoriented and distraught, and we need to find ways to care for one another while we live this new life together. It won't be easy. Conflicts will erupt and tempers will flare. No matter how much we love each other, these things are inevitable. We will adapt to a new way of living — as we must. The landscape has changed drastically; we have to change right along with it. We’ll try to be considerate and compromise and learn to embrace this new normal in ways that will be sacrificial and serving, not demanding and deserving. We’ll take it slowly and move more carefully around one another. We’ll lean in when we can and pull back when we’re told. We’ll laugh at the ridiculousness of our ways and walk away when we have had enough. We’ll have to bend a bit more, listen a lot better, and love each other well. This is a true test of our family’s character, riddled with flaws but my gosh, we have so many gifts too. We’ll loosen up these knots with understanding and thoughtfulness, respect and awareness. We’ll iron out the wrinkles with kind words and forgiveness, compassion and patience. We’ll begin to stitch new layers of life that bring meaning and memories to this new season we are in. We are still learning how to travel this long road and we can’t see for miles ahead. There’s a lot of fear in the unknown, so we need to hold tight to what we do know now… We are stuck with our people, the ones we love most. There is no one else we’d rather be with and no one else we love more. And this truth will never change, no matter how many changes come our way." - @themomcafe

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In the meantime, there’s a lot of other things on your plate, like figuring out what going back to college will look like in the fall.

CollegiateParent is focused on providing resources for parents of college students to make these uncertain times a little bit easier.

Connect with our COVID-19 resources page to read thoughts and advice from parents, students, professors and more >

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