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12/27/2018 13:38 EST | Updated 12/27/2018 13:53 EST

A Parent's Guide To Taking A FOMO-Free Holiday Staycation

All the sun-filled selfies invading my social media feeds put me in a real funk until I tried these tips.

Dear fellow staycationers,

Christmas has come and gone, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that my family will be staying put this holiday season. No last-minute trip to Florida, no all-inclusive vacation to Mexico, no long road trip to visit family in Atlanta — just the five of us staycationing in Toronto.

Sisoje via Getty Images

When I was growing up in South Africa, travelling anywhere aside from local summer camp over the holidays was not even an option. My parents never spoke of where we could go, or what we would do — it simply wasn't a discussion. Over the holidays, we just did what we did every other day. We hung out with our family and friends, and did regular activities. And that was perfect!

Why do I find myself now, the mother of three young kids, constantly dreaming up exotic vacations and secretly wishing it might still happen with only 10 days of holidays remaining before school's back?

I realized that social media, as much as I love it, actually gets me down this time of year and is the root cause of some unwelcome feelings. I know I am not the only one. I have a sneaky suspicion YOU are right there with me. 'Cause you, too, have been mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, and seeing everyone else's sun-filled, smiley-and-oh-so-perfect family vacations. Now don't get me wrong, I don't wish any of "those" people anything other than the absolute best time on their trips, but I can't help but feel that pang of jealousy every time I see or hear of someone enjoying their vacation somewhere else in the world.

I'll admit it, I actually felt the holiday blues. It really got to me and made me slightly dread the coming two weeks with my family. Isn't that sad? It's actually ridiculous. And so I excused myself from my own pity party, and came up with my own rules for how to navigate through the holidays with the most minimal feelings of jealously and wishing I was on a beach somewhere tropical.

AleksandarNakic via Getty Images
Young happy family enjoy their vacation by the seaside

Here are my top six tips that I am mindfully putting into place, and so far have been working well:

People, people, people

Surround yourself with people you actually like, and connect with them in your home, in theirs or out and about. We spontaneously invited friends to come around and watch "Elf" (the funniest movie ever), and what started with tea and cookies turned into movies and popcorn, then dinner, then five hours later they went home only because it was getting late. It was one of our favourite play dates to date, and all 'cause we had no where else to be!

Digital detox

This is a must and we all know why. As hard as it is t stop, the bad habit of endlessly scrolling through our social media feeds serves to remind us we are NOT travelling as we keep catching glimpses of everyone else who IS. Make a conscious effort to reduce your screen time on social media — easier said than done, right? Start with a small step and try find something that works for you.

I chose to move my Instagram and Facebook apps from my phone's home page to the very last page of apps, so they weren't always in my face and readily available every time I looked at my phone. I am actually tempted to delete the apps completely for the rest of my holiday season, but I am not sure I can do it.

Plan every day out

As much as I would love to relax in my P.J.s every day and play board games with my kids, let's be real — we'll all be bouncing off the walls by 10 a.m. Make a calendar of activities — places to visit, people to see, movies to watch, sports to do — everything and anything. Plan it out meticulously, as I've found that waking up with no plans even on just one day got my mood way down, in comparison to the previous two days that were filled with plans and activities.

Be productive

Yes, it's time for rest, but truthfully what makes us feel better than getting s*** done!? I have been dreaming of arranging my kitchen cabinets for weeks now. They've gotten into such a state, that I can't open the cupboard without a half-eaten bag of something falling out on my head. I bought a copious amount of mason jars and I literally cannot wait to get in there, remove every single thing from the cupboards and arrange all the cereals, snacks, nuts, bars, chips etc. into mason jars. Just the thought of this brings a smile to my face — sad, but true! So, pick a project in your home, and let's get productive.

Get motivated

Just today, I dragged myself to the gym. I decided I would watch motivational talks by my current favourites — Gary Vee, Tony Robbins and Rachel Hollis — on YouTube instead of listening to music or watching random TV on the treadmill screen. Having them in my ears got me really pumped, focused on what's truly important and seriously improved my mood. If you haven't found your own favourites yet, then make it happen and see your mood change almost instantly.

Count your blessings

Cliched, maybe, but so true. Keep reminding yourself of what you do have, not what's missing from your life. Soon everyone will return home from wherever they have been, and life will go on. It's hard not to get caught up in what every one else is doing, or what you think you should be doing, but awareness of everything that fills your life is key to staying grounded and grateful for what really matters.

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There you have it. Tomorrow is a new day, hopefully one filled with good people, great food, happy memories and good times regardless of where we are in the world.

Happy holidays to you all!

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