It’s spring break and you are home with your kids:
What does that mean? It means that kids are completely ecstatic and simply can’t wait for this vacation from school! For them, it means: no homework, no alarm clocks (aka sleeping in), and no racing to the bus before the sun has truly risen for the day. Some parents are thrilled with these benefits and add the many benefits spring break allows for the parents: no packing lunches, no driving from school to school trying to pick up carpools and race to after school activities, and getting to spend some quality time with your kids. Yet, for many parents, spring break evokes a feeling of sheer panic:
WHAT WILL WE DO ALL WEEK WITH ALL THE KIDS HOME TOGETHER, AT THE SAME TIME, WITH NO SCHEDULE, AND NOTHING TO DO?!!!
As a parent myself with 3 school-age children, I can see both sides of the spring break debate. Yet, I’m here to tell you that you can survive staying home during spring break with your kids. Even as I write that, I’m still stricken with the panic myself. But, as I take some deep breaths, I will walk you through some survival tips for the next 7 days.
Spring Break Survival Tips:
1) Have a plan: The worst words a parent can hear from children over break is, “I’m bored!” Ok…that, and the fighting words between siblings. But, the bored part is within our control, at least for a little while. The fighting words between siblings will most likely be addressed in another blog, not to worry. Anyway, back to “have a plan”. If you have never had a family meeting in your household, here’s a great place to start (and a great topic). Call to order a family meeting to discuss possible activities that can be done during the week off from school. Everyone should have a chance to give input.
2) Engage your kids in the plan: Kids like to feel that they have choices and that their opinions count. And, what better time to allow them to have those choices than spring break when the week is full of possibilities? Write down all the ideas the kids have for activities, places they’d like to visit, friends they’d like to see, etc. Even if one of your kids wants to play Wii and relax, there will be time for that and it’s good for the kids to have some downtime. Perhaps that can be the “family game night” activity one night this week.
3) Make a calendar of possible activities: This will allow you (and the kids) to see what the plan is for each day. Whether it’s playdates or a trip to the museum, the kids can see what is planned. It allows them to see that their ideas are put into action and also teaches them the art of negotiation. For example, “Yes, we are doing the activity that Jake chose tomorrow morning, but we are doing your activity on Tuesday when your friend Emily and her mom are free to join us.” Of course, the calendar can be changed, if need be.
4) Be careful not to over-schedule: You’ve heard of not over-scheduling kids’ activities, playdates, etc during the school year, but the same is true for vacations. Be sure to give breaks throughout the day, so the activity chosen is still enjoyable for the kids (and for you). This is especially true for children who have difficulty with transitions. For example, if you’re going bowling in the morning, maybe some game time or an art activity with just the family is good for an afternoon activity, rather than another outing or high-energy excursion. And, it’s ok to have some “screen time” (as we call tv, computer, and video games in our house) to give tired moms and dads a break too.
5) Schedule a grown-up night out: Yes, I did say “schedule”. As parents, it’s easy for us to forget about adult time and especially time for ourselves. So, before you get caught up in the calendar of all the kids’ activities from morning until night, make sure to add a “grown up night” to that calendar. Phone an in-law, a parent, or a sibling and see if they would be willing to watch the darlings for a couple of hours so you can have some grown-up time with your spouse or significant other. Or, see if a friend would be willing to sit for your kids one night and you can sit for theirs another night. Or, if finances allow, hire a sitter! I promise this will be a great addition to your spring break plans. If your spouse travels or you can’t go out together one night during this week, make it a grown-up night with some friends.
Some ideas for spring break kid-friendly activities that won’t cost a fortune:
• local libraries often have free passes or discounts to local museums and attractions-check that out! Or, just spend some time at the library.
• parks (if the weather permits). Try one that you’ve never seen before- maybe in another town and have the kids make a comparison list: what they like best at each park.
• take a train ride
• visit an animal shelter and bring newspapers. They always need newspaper for training
• volunteer at a local nursing home or get a group of kids together to do a talent show of sorts
• rent a movie about something the kids learned about in school-making popcorn helps them forget they’re learning while they watch
• take pictures when you go on activities and even make a scrapbook at the end of the week