May long weekend in Canada is always a significant long weekend as it is seen by most as the unofficial start to summer. People pack up and take off to the lake or their cottage or just a campground and enjoy the nice weather and changing of seasons. Here in Kelowna, it’s when the “red plates” typically begin to arrive and traffic congestion doubles.
This year however, regardless of where you live or what specific guidelines you’re choosing to abide by, things are going to feel a little different.
While this makes me sad, and I worry about what life is going to look like as we move forward and how much it’s going to strip away from us, truth be told I’m still living in a weird state of denial.
I worry about whether or not there will be restrictions placed on parties that occur on a yacht. But I don’t own a yacht - I don’t even own a boat, and I live on one of Canada’s most beautiful and sought after lakes.
I worry about what music festivals are going to look like now and desperately want to feel people bump into me and spill their drink on me because they were immersed and lost in the music. But as far as I know, there weren’t any festivals even planned for this weekend - if there were, I sure hadn’t made any plans to attend anything.
And I worry about the international and inter-provincial travel that seems to be so inconsistent and hypocritical as no one is aligning with regulations or even common sense, leaving everybody who is traveling this weekend confused. But the last time I traveled anywhere outside the country or even the province was over a year ago!
So, when it all boils down, I won’t be doing anything I’m worried about this weekend anyway. I’ll be living life exactly as I have always been living it. For a select few - those of us deep in the trenches, the present circumstances of the world don’t even come close to affecting us.
I’ve written in the past about what life was like with three kids under the age of 2. You don’t leave the house. You’re under house arrest. You’re quarantined. They are a little older now, but each has their own special needs; which hasn’t made the situation any easier, just different. So taking off for the weekend? Yeah, that was never really in the cards.
It’s tough for me to let dreams die. It’s tough for me to be honest with myself while I’m watching my neighbours excitedly pack up their RV’s and ATV’s and meet up with their friends as they take off for the long weekend, knowing that’s not what my life looks like anymore. Some days it’s still tough for me to accept my “new normal”, which by the way is a phrase I’ve been using for over a year now, long before the media turned it into the catchphrase of the year.
But all that aside, if you know anything about me… it’s that I don’t quit. I don’t roll over and die just because things get tough. No, I adapt. I think outside the box. I crush the box. Actually, there is no box in my life anymore. And what I’ve found - in a weird paradoxical kind of way, is that things are a lot simpler.
Now don’t get me wrong, if I was invited to a party on a yacht… at a music festival… in another country this weekend, I’d drop everything and go, but until that invite finds its way into my hands… there is still lots you can do this weekend with your family. Here are 24 other ideas (why 24? It’s the test to see who’s Canadian and who’s not) on how to make the best of the May long weekend.
24 Things to Do This May Long Weekend
1. Games night
This is nothing new in my home. We play games daily. In fact, we just got two new board games this week, and the boys haven't done anything else but play them. This morning Ethan woke me up at 5:20AM and the first thing he asked me was "Can we play Candy Land?"
Get out the card games, get out the board games, get out the snacks and have some fun playing games.
2. Do a virtual games night via Zoom and a games app
Just last weekend, my brother-in-law set this up for the entire family. We haven't seen each other since last July, with no plans to in the foreseeable future, so he got us all connected on Zoom, we all downloaded the same app, and we played games with each other virtually.
3. Go golfing
This one is mainly to commemorate the seasons changing, as in some of the Canadian provinces, the snow doesn't even fully melt until around May long weekend, but now it's time to get outside. Our local courses have been open since March, which provides a perfect opportunity to get outside, do something active and have some fun with friends or family.
4. Backyard BBQ
Super simple idea. Come on now... who doesn't BBQ? Again, in Canada its funny that around May long weekend, all the grocery stores send out flyers that are filled with BBQ ideas and products. Its the official start to BBQ season, and you can smell it everywhere you go. So, invite the neighbours who haven't left town over for a burger and a beer and enjoy the beautiful weekend.
OK, so maybe the BBQ idea didn't hit home with you, but why not do a simple picnic instead then. Pack your favourites, grab a blanket and head out into the yard and eat outside on the grass. We've done this with takeout before too! We've ordered food, picked it up and then on our way back inside the house, we've taken a detour into the yard and just ate it all outside. As little clean up as there is with take out food... there is EVEN LESS when you eat it outside!
6. Order takeout from a new restaurant
If you like my takeout idea, then why not give McDonald's a break, and try a brand new restaurant. A lot of local restaurants are hurting right now, and could use your support. Get outside of your comfort zone. Try a new cuisine. Try something on the other side of the city. Be adventurous. If it's a flop - which I doubt it will be, McDonald's will still be there for a late night cheeseburger.
7. Movie night
Get out the classics and show your kids a favourite from when you were a kid. Do a marathon with your favourite trilogy. Or just cuddle up as a family and watch a new release on Netflix. If you have the right equipment or technology (like a projector), you could even take the movies outside and watch a movie under the stars; which leads me into my next idea...
8. Evening under the stars
We're still early enough in the season that it gets dark at a (fairly) reasonable time for kids. Sure, it might be past their bedtime if your kids are young like mine - but won't the memories be worth it? There are apps and websites that can help you with what is visible and how to identify the constellations and stars in the sky.
9. Set up a tent in the backyard and go camping
Do you want to take it one step further? Spend the night outside. Set up the tent and go camping in the back yard. If your yard permits, you could build a fire to sit around or roast marshmallows over. You could tell scary stories with a flashlight in the tent. Really, the sky is the limit. And if the weather sucks, you can move the camping trip inside fairly quickly.
10. Scavenger Hunt
If you're outside already, make a scavenger hunt for the family. I did this for my boys by literally running around the neighbourhood taking pictures of random things, then printing those pictures onto cards, and giving them to my kids to find. The nice thing about this is that the clues (pictures in this case) can be scaled to be appropriate for any age. For older kids, you just select smaller or more specific items.
If "scavenger hunt" sounds to easy, elementary or simple... but you like the concept, I've got something for you. It's called geocaching. Simple put, it's the world's largest treasure hunt. You'll need a smart phone or better yet, a mobile or handheld GPS device, and a free account on the official geocaching website, and then off you go. You're provided coordinates of "caches" or small treasures. Some literally have treasures in them that you can take or exchange with something else.
12. Bake cupcakes and deliver them to friend or family
Who doesn't like cupcakes? Seriously. This could be a fun family activity in making them and decorating them, and then if that's not enough... the feeling of getting out and making someones day by delivering them to their front door makes this idea an all round winner. If you need my address, just send me a quick message!
13. Write letters to grandparents and mail them
Remember when getting letters in the mail was so common, it was boring. But every time your computer chimed with a new email, we dropped everything and ran to open it? Now, its the opposite. Our inboxes are overflowing and new email is probably just junk mail, but now every time we get a letter in the mailbox, we drop everything to stop and open it. Most grandparents appreciate good ol' fashioned snail mail EVEN MORE. So, why not pen a letter and drop it in the mailbox for them to receive.
14. Set up a photo shoot. Both goofy and formal
Make some photo booth props, get out some old Halloween costumes, come up with fun locales around the house, yard or community. The ideas are endless, especially if you have kids and let THEM direct the photo shoot!
15. Try out a Tik Tok Dance
OK, so this may not be for everyone, but don't let preconceived notions stop you from trying at least. I've been on Tik Tok since the very beginning - but just as a silent observer. I never thought it was a place for me to contribute or join in. But then the Quarantine occurred, and families everywhere started posting, and it opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of not posting MYSELF learning how to shuffle, but rather finding the family and kid friendly routines.
16. Create a Carnival in Your Back Yard or Living Room
With all events being cancelled worldwide, it's time for you to find your inner event planner. I know this is easy for me, an event planner, to say... but it may not be as hard as you think. Choosing a theme is your first step and call me crazy, but I feel that May long weekend lends itself well to a Carnival. While I literally have a million ideas on this topic, I wanna share what a great friend, and fellow Dad created for his daughter here: DIY Living Room Carnival , proving you don't have to be a professional event planner to come up with an extraordinary home event like this.
17. Create and Host Family Olympics
OK, I'm in event planner mode now! That and I LOVE the Olympics and am completely devastated that the 2020 Olympics have been cancelled. So, we adapt. We think outside the box. We crush the box, and we create our own Olympics. You could hire me and I'll come facilitate an event with your family that would leave you speechless, or you could just Google some ideas... glance at Pinterest and discover how easy it really is to put together some fun activities that the whole family would enjoy.
18. Plant a garden
So, I can't speak to this idea first hand, because my thumbs are anything BUT green, but now is the time to buy seeds and get them into the ground. Depending on where you live, you may finally be seeing the ground this weekend after a long winter of snow. Get your kids involved, let them help. Ask them what THEY want to grow, and then form a plan and hold them accountable to those specific plants.
19. Make a time capsule
NOW, is the time to do this! We are living in a very weird year. So, commemorate it by gathering together some things that define the year we are having, pack them in a capsule and bury it (if possible). Be sure to establish an open date, and then set a reminder (perhaps an email scheduled for a later date) for when the time has elapsed.
20. Go for a family bike ride and/or hike
Once again, May long weekend is all about getting outside and enjoying the weather and change of seasons. So, find a trail and explore. Whether that be on your bikes, or by foot, you can chose an appropriate trail based on who is with you, and go from there.
21. Go to the beach
Like I started by saying, for many this is the weekend where you head out to the lake or the cottage. Well, if you're one of those lucky ones, OR if you're a local like me, who just happens to live in a tourist destination, then get out and enjoy the beach. Enjoy the lake.
22. Go for a Drive
In most regions, gas is at a low price we haven't seen in years. So, burn a little of it. Pack everyone up and go for a drive. It doesn't even matter if you have a predetermined destination.
23. Home Tidy-Up and Purge
OK, so this one isn't necessarily "fun", but it's something to do none-the-less. And truth be told, I think this is one I'll be doing this weekend. Maybe the shed needs a good overhaul as the outdoor season begins. Maybe it's the deck... or UNDER the deck. Or maybe it's a room inside that has turned into the catch-all as winter (and now the quarantine) has kept us locked up inside. It's time for some spring cleaning.
24. Family Karaoke
One last idea, no matter how bad it may sound... or YOU may sound, is a family karaoke night. Download the app, turn on the XBox or Playstation and get everyone involved. There are lots of versions that can played too. There are games and quizzes on music lyrics that can be hysterical when played with others. Sometimes music is the only medicine the heart and soul needs. So, sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching!
Regardless of what you end up doing, happy long weekend, and I'd love to hear all about it on Tuesday!