Michelle Nichols, co-founder of the Animal Hospice, End-of-Life and Palliative Care Project (AHELP Project), believes that family staycations are a wonderful way to connect with the entire family. “As loving parents, we do the best we can, given our time and resources – remember that time you dedicate to your child over a staycation can be special no matter what you plan to do,” she explained. Michelle’s family includes her senior dog, Rex, senior cat, Mickey Max, and her daughter’s dog, Sunny Bunny, who is an up-and-coming Flyball star. When planning staycations, Michelle tries to include the entire family, including her beloved canine companions.
Michelle Nichols 
AHELP Project
2826 108th Ave. S.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 223-5722

As the co-founder of the local nonprofit organization AHELP Project and the mother of nine-year-old daughter Zoë, Michelle Nichols knows how complicated it can be to juggle family, work and personal life. With community building in AHELP’s vision, she volunteers alongside “AHELPers” as Executive Director of this charitable non-profit organization. She also appreciates the value in further serving her local community as class parent for Zoë’s school and is an active member of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association. Michelle strives toward the perfect work-family-personal balance and feels that staycations are a great value in today’s economy. Staycations are the perfect solution to keeping connected to her organization’s and family’s needs – and her personal needs, as well. She’s happy to share a few ideas that have been successful – and others she’s yet to try with family and friends.

Become A Hobbyist In Ten Days (Or Less!)

“I’ve found that hobbies take time to overcome the learning curve to the point where your child is really enjoying it. Choose something you already know how to do. If you don’t have the supplies yet, map out the steps involved in learning your new hobby, including budgeting for supplies. Then you can shop together – or show your child how to order online if s(he) doesn’t appreciate the shopping part of your project. Your hobbyist project should culminate in something tangible that shows their achievement, even if it’s just a photo with you and your child on the bunny ski slope together.”

Daytime Pajama Party!

“Who doesn’t enjoy a day off in PJs and a movie? Invite friends for a daytime slumber party complete with sleeping bags, popcorn or delivered pizza. It’s vacation! Why not order one of those fancy pay-per-view movies for a real rush of excitement. Arrange an earlier pick-up and invite parents in to chat, since you have the chance to visit in the day-to-day hustle-bustle of activities and life in general.”

Spending time with your pooch (Courtesy of Michelle Nichols)

Around The Sound With Your Hound 

“Include your pooch in the staycation. With your child’s help, create a list of dog parks that you could visit daily. Plan your travel route to each park using the Internet or smartphone mapping. Try to include another place of interest in your journey and pick up an ice cream or choose a favorite lunch spot where you could stop for take-out to enjoy together in the park. For added fun, my family loves an inside bite at dog-friendly Norm’s Eatery in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.”

Related: Best Parks To Walk Your Dog In The Seattle Area

Fun And Funky Neighborhood Hunt

“Create a tricky list and set your older child off to your friendly neighbors’ houses for a scavenger hunt. For those with a competitive spirit, have a friend or two join in so they can win a new board game, puzzle, or another activity that could keep them all further entertained after their hunt ends. For your younger child, list the neighbors’ houses you’d like to visit together and then create a unifying theme for your list with a puzzle question for an extra bonus. For instance, your theme might be ‘all used to make a cake,’ and could include a measuring cup or spoon, cake mix, a cup of sugar, baking soda, red frosting, rainbow sprinkles and a birthday candle. Their reward for completion of the day-long project is to bake the cake!”

Volunteering with friends (Courtesy of Michelle Nichols)

Develop Your Philanthropic Side 

“Your child can learn rich lessons through giving back once you help them see the value in a cause or a charity’s mission. Contact your city’s park rangers by looking at your city’s .gov website and they might liaison with your children in a local reforestation or conservation project. If you can organize a group of children, their scheduled programs involve education and activities suited for a particular child or children’s age. If you’re animal lovers like we are, the Seattle-King County Humane Society website has a page dedicated to volunteering opportunities for youth – and for teens ages 16 and up, investigate volunteer orientations at no-kill animal shelters like Homeward Pet. Nonprofits are always appreciative of their volunteers – and it’s a rich and rewarding way to spend a family staycation.”

Related: Best Volunteer Opportunities For Animal Lovers In Seattle 

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.