a photo of a mother with her two kids - exploring a local zoo as a theme of a family staycation.

How To Plan A Family Staycation With Toddlers

Do you want some help on how to plan a family staycation with your toddlers?

Let me share with you the steps that I always use in planning our family staycations, and I hope that it will also help in your planning.

If the word staycation is still new to you, please check this related post:

What Is The Difference Between A Vacation And A Staycation?

How To Plan A Family Staycation With Toddlers

Planning a family staycation with toddlers is definitely easier than planning a vacation. First, make sure to take care of the basics by deciding the dates and the duration, then followed by deciding on the theme or style, making a list of things to do, and setting a budget. After the basics are taken care of, make sure to get into vacation mode during the staycation by planning and making the meals ahead of time, and by dedicating a day to clean the house before the staycation starts.


1. Decide On The Dates And The Duration.

Decide on the dates. Just like a normal vacation, you have to plan when to do the staycation and for how long. Take a look at your family’s calendar and choose dates that are convenient for everyone. Make sure that there are no overlapping schedules.

photo of a calendar and clock to signify decide on the dates and the duration - the very first step on how to plan a family staycation with toddlers.

Decide on the duration of the entire staycation. Since we already made an 8-day vacation just recently, so, we decided to make the staycation short – 3 days.

Decide on the duration on a daily scale. This is an important aspect to consider, especially if parents (or one of them) are working from home. My husband works from home and because he is autonomous, so he doesn’t have an official vacation.

In this regard, we decided that the staycation mode will start at lunchtime everyday, which means that he can still work for half-day during the 3-day staycation.

2. Decide On The Theme Or Style.

A family staycation can be done in a lot of styles and themes.

It can be an exclusive at-home staycation where all activities are done in the comfort of the home.

An exclusive touristy staycation is also another option, where the activities are all about visiting tourist spots in your city or neighboring cities.

a photo of a mother with her two kids - exploring a local zoo as a theme of a family staycation.

A hotel staycation is another possible theme, where your family stays in a hotel and just participates and does activities inside the hotel.

A food-themed staycation where all activities are related to food like cooking an international dish together, dining out in a fancy restaurant, or setting up a cooking competition is also a fun theme to consider.

You can always come up with your own theme and style.

And of course, you can always mix different themes and styles, which is exactly what we love doing on our staycations.

3. Make A List Of Things To Do.

After the dates, duration, themes, and styles are set, it’s time to move on to the most exciting part: making a list of activities to do during the staycation!

Consider the age and interests of your toddlers for maximum fun!

Though toddlers are basically kids from 1 to 3 years old, there are toddler activities that are specifically appropriate for each year range.

And make sure to align the activities with their interests, too. Though trying something new is also a good thing.

Some staycation ideas are: visiting a chocolate factory, a movie night, eating at a local restaurant, visiting a museum, and visiting a water park.


Make a huge list of staycation ideas for your family. Print it out and tick the item out after doing it, so you don’t have to make another list of what activities to do for the next time, and you just choose from the unticked items for your next staycation.

4. Set A Budget.

Because of the nature of staycation as being less expensive, there’s a tendency to spend money on unnecessary things, so setting a budget is a good idea.

Make sure to be generous with your budget, though, to make room for unplanned expenses like your toddlers wanting to buy one of the toys that they see, or you suddenly decide to eat out instead of stressing out and rushing to be home for dinner, etc.


a photo of a beach with beach beds to signify getting into vacation mode during staycation.

Now that the basics are already taken care of, it’s time to make sure that you’ll be in “vacation mode” during the staycation.

This means that you have to avoid house chores as much as possible to achieve a real staycation vibe. I am doubtful about this one though because I know moms can’t resist clutter and unwashed dishes!

But here are some tips that will help you through:

5. Plan And Make The Meals Ahead.

This is a great idea to make sure that you won’t be cooking during the staycation! If you do, it would feel like a normal day where you cook, clean, etc.

a photo of a meal plan and a refrigerator that signifies to make the meal ahead - another tip on how to plan a family staycation with toddlers.

Look for freezer meals or make-ahead meal ideas, there are thousands on Pinterest.

6. Dedicate A Day To Clean The House Before The Family Staycation.

Scheduling a cleaning day before the staycation is very important, just like preparing and making the meals ahead of time.

If the house is not clean and in order, I am 100% sure that you’ll end up cleaning and tidying up (I know Moms!) during the staycation and it will ruin the “vacation vibe”.

a photo of a clean and organized living room with a toddler playing to signify the importance of cleaning the house before the start of a family staycation.

I do the same thing before going on a vacation because I learned the hard way. One time, we went on a vacation with the house in a mess.

We came home and the toys were all over the floor, there were a lot of things on top of the table and the counter. It stressed me out! So, instead of relaxing on the sofa after a long car ride with toddlers, I end up tidying up the house.

After that, I said to myself never to go on vacation again without cleaning the house first. And now, it has become a routine, a must-do before leaving for a vacation.

Final Thoughts on How To Plan A Family Staycation With Toddlers

A family staycation is certainly a great alternative for a family vacation, especially for families with small kids. And planning ahead using the tips above will surely make it fun and memorable, just like any vacation.

Do you already have activities, themes, and styles in mind for your next or very first family staycation?

Please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Have a lot of fun and make sure to observe social distancing and health protocols when doing activities outside the house.

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