It’s that magical time of year when the weather starts warming up, we start planning summer vacations and looking forward to longer, slower days, and it all starts with Spring Break. Spring Break is always a welcome respite as our kids grow weary of school and we grow weary of taking them. I always look forward to this week with naïve optimism. Even after two decades of parenting, I tend to set myself up for disappointment. I imagine it will be delightfully full of quality family time and sibling fun. It often ends up being some combination of an MMA fight and an all-you-can-eat buffet. So, I thought I would provide a few tips for those of you who are looking at the upcoming “vacation” with any mix of joy, uncertainty, and trepidation.
Don’t call it a vacation: this is true for any “time off” when it comes to children. Spring Break is not a vacation. Even more so if you are actually traveling. The word “vacation” conjures an image of relaxation and quiet: two things that cannot coexist with children. Perhaps you should also refrain from calling it a “break” since having all the children home for a week is anything but. Let’s just call it “that week in spring when we don’t have to set an alarm.”
Don’t go crazy with the crafts: as a “seasoned” mother this is something I don’t even attempt to do anymore. I used to always imagine setting up lovely craft stations for my kids, getting great ideas from Pinterest, and having hours of creative fun. Instead, it usually turned into an unfathomable amount of paint on every surface but the paper, tears, spills and glitter on the floor for days (before I had the good sense to ban glitter from our home entirely). Now, if you are a person who loves crafts, by all means make some magic, but if you loathe the thought of crafts, hand your kids some empty paper towel rolls, call them swords, and sit down with a cup of coffee.
Avoid public places: now this one may just make me sound old and mean, but I can’t tell you how many times I have loaded my kids up for the zoo or the Arboretum during Spring Break only to get there and regret every life choice I have ever made. We learned a few years ago to pack a lunch, grab some friends, and go to a wide-open field that no one else knows about, and just play.
Make time for YOU: somewhere in the middle of the week make plans with a friend or go on a date with your husband. Put the kids in front of a movie, throw a table cloth on the floor, and let them eat pizza while you have a glass of wine and read a book or watch a dumb, romantic comedy. Enjoy the fact that if they don’t shower or brush their teeth, no one will judge you because you don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow.
Keep it simple: this is really the thing I have learned over the years. Kids don’t care if their days are filled with non-stop action, and who are we kidding, that’s not good for any of us. At the end of the day, they want time to relax, and to play, and to be together. Play more board games, kick the soccer ball together, watch The Princess Bride again. Take a deep breath and remember why you love your kids.
I hope this kick-off to longer, slower days ahead is a good one. And I hope you remember it’s okay if they watch TV; it’s okay if they eat some junk food; and it’s certainly okay if you are already ready for them to go back to school.