Children and their mothers deserve to have one-on-one time to bond and have fun together – and with Mother’s Day right around the corner, I want to share a fun DC staycation my daughter Olivia and I had this past month. Sometimes, a vacation (or, in my case, “staycation”) is the perfect bonding opportunity during a busy time of the year, especially with school ending in just a few short months. Of course, I love white, sandy beaches and tropical breezes… or a cozy cabin in the woods with a crackling fire. However, at the moment, a staycation with my little one is the next best thing this spring.
Our staycation was the perfect little weekend getaway. Being a busy single mom with a full-time job, a business, a blog, and a busy networking life in the city, quite honestly, it’s been challenging to keep up. If a big trip isn’t in your immediate future – or even if you’re looking for something fun to do on a random weekend – here, you will find some fun and exciting activities to do with your kids without leaving your hometown. For us, we did our staycation exploring our nation’s capital in our home city of Washington, DC. Below are some fun ideas that you and your little one can do together on your staycation that will be fun, exciting, and won’t break the bank.
Go to a hotel for a night!
The Willard Intercontinental Hotel hosted Olivia and me for a weekend stay. I grew up going to The Willard, remembering countless high teas, and once upon a time, I had my bridal tea there. I’ve been taking Olivia to The Willard since she was a toddler. The Willard is the perfect landing spot for visiting all the Washington, DC, as it is right next to the White House and a few blocks from the Monument. Olivia’s favorite part about hotels is unpacking and neatly aligning all of her things, jumping on the bed, and ordering in-room service. Even though we were 15 minutes away from home, it was exotic and insanely fun for Olivia too. Our activities included some fun pampering – we put clay masks on each other and painted our nails. Olivia took (what seemed like an hour-long) bath in the big bathroom. She even called room service by herself and ordered her pizza. Together we watched a movie and ate in the bed (which is a super huge treat)! I found myself dozing off before her! Having that intimate one on one time with no distractions was such an incredible bonding experience.
Photo by Pablo Raya
Go on a food expedition.
Food can be one of the most fun things for kids. When we started our staycation, we had lunch on the patio at Cafe du Parc, while it was a beautiful 70-degree day. After exploring the city for a bit, we went to Presidential Scoops on G Street, right next to the White House. Although the line was out the door, we passed the time by playing some fun guessing games, and Olivia shimmied her way through the line a few times to grab some tasty samples. By the time we got up front, Olivia had ordered herself apricot sorbet, and I got my usual “birthday cake.” It was, as Olivia would say, “delectable.” We also had a high tea during our stay, which I will elaborate on later in this post. For dinner, as I previously mentioned, Olivia ordered her pizza from room service on her own, and she was so excited. Ice cream and pizza – we loved treating ourselves!
Visit a few landmarks.
For our weekend in DC, it was peak Cherry Blossom season, so we walked around the national mall, alongside the river, and enjoyed the cherry blossoms and the city’s buzz. In addition to gazing at the blossoms on our walk, we went to the National Cathedral and garden. Olivia took off her shoes like Rapunzel and went running through the garden, looking for bunny rabbits. If you haven’t gone to the National Cathedral – go! It is an absolute must! To the cathedral’s right is a beautiful little garden with all kinds of neat places to sit and enjoy the flowers, views of the cathedral, and spot some wildlife.
Photos by Pablo Raya
Finally, we went to the Washington Monument and White House. Olivia loves to talk about Abraham Lincoln and is very intrigued by his story. When we made our way to the White House, she had so many questions! She asked, “When the White House was built?” “How many presidents have lived in it” “Is Donald Trump really in there right now?”… she was so curious about the city, and I enjoyed the opportunity to teach her more about our home city’s history – even if I had to google to get some of the answers to her questions 🙂
Self-love is a big part of my parenting with Olivia. Every morning we do affirmations in the mirror. Olivia looks at herself and says a mantra three times before leaving the house for school. They are simple, “I am strong,” “I am kind,” “I am smart.” Getting her on board on this, in the beginning, wasn’t easy, but as she began to embrace and understand it, I could see the light in her grow brighter. When we were on our staycation, we did some yoga, and we also took the time to rest. We ate in bed, watched movies, did face masks, painted our nails, and didn’t do much, which was exactly what we needed after a packed day. It was so nice to be away and be in a relaxing and calm environment pampering ourselves with love and self-care.
Do a high tea.
Olivia and I were lucky enough to have tea at The Willard, which holds a special place in my heart. We had so much fun eating the little sandwiches, tiny pastries, biscuits, and spreads. The cutest moment of the tea was when Olivia requested her own – I chimed in and said, “decaf!” Can’t find a high tea in your area? No problem! Whether it be in your dining room or at your favorite restaurant or hotel, make some mini sandwiches together, biscuits, cookies, and have a little afternoon tea! My favorite is always the biscuits, and Olivia’s is the little chocolate pastries. I am a carb/bread lover, and Olivia loves sweets! The perfect pair to enjoy high tea staples. 🙂
Photos by Pablo Raya
Go on a scavenger hunt!
Make your own clues for around the house, around the city, or your neighborhood. Watson Adventures hosts clever, quirky scavenger hunts in museums, and a few are coming to Washington, DC soon! Some are more for adults, but they do have kid’s editions! Sunday, May 12th, 2019, at The National Gallery of Art, they are hosting a “Wizard Hunt” and at The National Zoo – or go on a Safari that supports animals on the “Wild Wildlife Scavenger Hunt” Saturday, May 18th!
Let your child play the photographer.
I’m hesitant to hand over my Fujifilm camera because I’m afraid it will get broken, or I will have to turn around and erase a million photos of my daughter’s foot, but the project can be really cool! Have your child document their day, and help them organize and put together a little album. Olivia took my phone and my friend Pablo’s professional camera and went to town! She actually captured a few great shots! Developing her favorites later on was a nice surprise and treated for her. 🙂 The photo below on the left was taken by Olivia!
Top right: Photo by Olivia. Top left: Photo by Pablo Raya
Do random acts of kindness.
Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, bring a bottle of water to a homeless person, say hello to someone in line next to you. Smile at someone as you pass by them on the sidewalk. Tell the woman walking to or from work that you love her outfit and that she looks beautiful… This is a great way to teach your children that a little kindness can go a long way. I am always trying to live my life in service of others, be kind, and pay it forward. As a mom raising a young girl, I want to instill the qualities that my mother instilled in me. What may seem like small things could be huge things for someone else, and it will help our children remain humble in a sometimes very self-serving world.
All of the above are great ways to connect with your child differently and uniquely. I am always trying to find different and fun things to do with Olivia that fit in with our crazy schedule, especially during the school year. By doing some of the activities above on your staycation with your child, you will engage with them in a new way and create lasting memories. It really isn’t about where you go, how much money you spend, or the crazy adventures… yes, those can be great, but all a kid needs is undivided attention, love, and an authentic connection. Taking special time to connect and bond with your child anywhere and in any way will always be a win and it will imprint memories that will last a lifetime.
HUGE thanks go out to The Willard Intercontinental for hosting Olivia and me. We had a lovely time! We cannot wait to come back again soon!
Photo by Pablo Raya