A Staycation with 3 Preschoolers

The “mold situation” in my almost 100 year old home was becoming more and more concerning when the leak in the wine cellar turned out to be caused by the original cast-iron pipe (I googled this and found that these were mainly used in homes built between 1850-1900) – it had gone ‘kaput’ and the many hairline fractures were combining to create a deluge in the basement. The wall between my basement and second story master bathroom needed to be ripped out potentially exposing dangerous levels of mold. (Spoiler alert: the issue turned out to be completely manageable with mold only at the base of the leak so once the pipes were removed so was the mold! I now have completely updated pipes in my old house!)
So we went on a staycation!
The first night I had my twins stay at my parents’ house – their first time ever spending the night somewhere other than their home – and Aspen and I got a hotel room for a “Girl’s Night Out.”
The twins did great! They slept all night and had a blast with their grandparents. Aspen and I stayed up late at the hotel (“late” was 8pm), drank chocolate milk, learned to work the door keypad, explored the hotel in our pajamas, and ordered room service.
Then we drove the quick 30 minutes it took to take us to our VRBO in St Charles, MO. For being so close to St Louis I really haven’t spent much time around the city: St Louis offers everything I need – and want – and most of my friends and activities are in the same urban radius. But I’d heard great things about the quaint small town of St Charles and we needed to get the heck out of dodge so I popped on my app and reserved an old house in the heart of “downtown”.

Ashley, my live-in nanny at the time, preceded our arrival to get lunch ready. We arrived just in time to be so excited we forgot to eat our lunch and managed to postpone naps for at least an hour past schedule. Even then, Aspen insisted on napping in the bed next to the boys’ pack-n-plays. Welp, after 15 minutes of playtime I put my foot down and separated them.

Over the next three nights we played in the sprinkler, poured out every board game that could be found, pressed every button on the remotes, walked up and down Main Street, played at a park, walked next to the river, and even went out to dinner at a restaurant.

Some highlights were when Hayes started screaming and crying because he was terrified that the DVD player opened when he pushed the button, having ice cream cake for breakfast to wish Ashley a heartfelt thank-you for her time with us (she moved back to California), and when I was greeted one morning by a drunk man throwing up outside our house. Urban living has its pros and cons even in small towns.
Wrangling three kids to eat three square meals, nap, and get a full night’s rest in a new house that they want to explore is not easy, but we managed to do it and we did it well.  I think having a well-established routine at home helps make new places feel more comfortable but who really knows. I mean, three kids aged 2, 2, and 3 have wonderful, creative, inquisitive, and energetic minds of their own and anything can change on a whim for any reason or no reason at all.
But the adventure was incredible.  I felt so empowered to have created memories with my kids with only a short “vacation” on the outskirts of St Louis.  I want to continue this trend with them, I want my kids to remember me as a mom who cared about making memories WITH them and not being afraid of a challenge (just like my mom did with my siblings and me.)
I’d love to get more suggestions on staycations and vacations.  Creative and involved parents, hit me!
18 Comments
  1. We used to go to the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City! It may be better when the kids are a bit older. The rooms are “cabin” themed and there’s an indoor waterpark. I’m also from St. Louis and have such fond memories of going there with my family as a kid. Love watching your family thrive

  2. You’re killin it, mamas!!!!

    During these uncertain times, I am so thankful for my 2 kiddos! Keep on keepin’ on!!!!!

    Ky from Pittsburgh PA

  3. Loved watching your staycation while you were in St. Charles! We live nearby and go explore on Main Street every few weeks. You’ll have to take the kids back in December when they have the parades/Santa/characters all over Main Street. Best wishes!!!

  4. You are a great Mom. Your kids are incredibly lucky to have parents that put them first. Happiness looks great o.mn you and show ms in everything you do 💜

  5. Definitely Lake of the Ozark. Great place in the summertime. I had 4 girls in 2 and half years. At that time they had a daycare where the kids could play and take a boat ride on the lake. It’s fun to go shopping at the outlets. Especially fun if you have a boat of your own.

  6. Hi Meghan,
    My mum tells me this story of how when my brothers were about 3 & 4, my parents took us all to Orlando to go to Disney World and other theme park (I would have been about 11 at the time). We lived in Lima, Peru so taking the whole family to the US wasn’t cheap. The days were absolutely packed with activities trying to make the most of our time there.
    A couple of months after we returned to Lima, a friend of my mum’s was planning a trip to the jungle of Peru with her kids and my mum decided that we were all going too. It was last minute, it was cheap, I remember we stayed at a lodge in the middle of the jungle so there wasn’t much to do, so we sang songs, listened to the crazy rains and walked around exploring. My mum says she remembers how happy my brothers were, it was a better pace for them than the Orlando holiday.
    I always keep that in mind when planning holidays or activities with my kids, I give them a bit of time to do nothing and be bored. I think it’s good for kids to be bored sometimes because that’s when their creativity kicks in.
    I live in Australia now where we are lucky to be living a somewhat normal live in the middle of this world pandemic. My kids are older than yours, 8 & 5. Our plan for today is a picnic at the local botanic gardens followed by a scooter ride and whatever else the day brings.
    A lot of things get easier as the kids grow, but the challenges are also different.
    Love seeing your lovely family pics and reading you. Your babies are adorable.

  7. Wonderful mom! Geocashing would be a fun way to explore with the kids and for you on your hiking adventures! It would be something you could share with them when you are away and having “you time” but still have that connection together!
    Enjoy and keep up the great work! 💪❤️🙌

  8. You are doing a fabulous job. Give yourself a break once in awhile! Nature reserves were a favorite of ours when the kids were small. They can run on paths and not get lost. Plus, they learn about nature!

  9. You are a GREAT mom! You turned a bad situation into a fun memory for your family. I recently read a quote that said You will never look back on life and think “I spent too much time with my kids” ! Having 3 under 3 is tough but it taught me so much about myself as I am sure it does for you. And these kiddos will grow up loving all these happy moments spent together. Give yourself a well deserved pat in the back! You did it Mama!

  10. I’m a single mom of two. Mine are older than yours but I have always loved to travel with them. A few of our favorites have been Caribbean cruise and then the national Parks in Montana and Wyoming. We also love skiing in Park City.

  11. I live in the suburbs of north jersey and took a staycation at the beach in Seaside Park.. a 90 minute drive one way. My kids had such a blast finding seashells, clam walking for clams under your feet, flying a kite, throwing out crab cages, playing hide and seek in the unknown vacation rental, roasting marshmallows, going on a turtle hunt and ice cream walks. When we returned home we made shadow boxes of all the shells they found.

  12. Have you checked out Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City?
    My boys (now older) used to love it .
    So much for kids to do. At the time and I’m not sure if they still do this, but the kids would go to the lobby in their Jammies and they would have Story time .
    Very kid friendly experience.
    Great restaurant in the hotel and you don’t have to leave .

  13. Your kids will love geocaching in the future-it’s like a treasure hunt. You can do it anywhere- just need the GEOCACHING app and you’re set. Take some stickers, pennies, other small trinkets and enjoy taking something and leaving something. Be sure to have pen or pencil to sign the cache log.
    There are fun ones for kids- it’s a lot of fun. We do it with kids of all ages.

  14. Kids don’t need things is what my husband and I decided long ago. Chalk, throwing water into the cold air, swimming, Zoo passes, science center passes, art passes. Stacations are great, day trips are awesome too. Just enjoy your kiddos! I have two girls, One is a chemical engineer now making tampons for P&G, the other girl is heading to med school next year. Let them play and explore and have fun, think and talk to them about i!

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