Working from home as a mompreneur can be an ideal setup– when the kids are at school, that is. Here’s a guide to staying sane during spring break.
Warming weather, lengthening days. The harbingers of spring– and of spring break! While teachers and kids count down the days until vacation, working moms often scramble to find ways to fill the long hours without school. Here are ten ideas for keeping your kids occupied while hanging on to your sanity.
1. Think Local
It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that spring break automatically means a big family trip to Disney World or the beach, but you don’t have to travel far or spend a small fortune to do something fun and special with your kids. If you can’t miss a whole week from work, consider taking a day or two of vacation and seeking some local thrills. Regional amusement and theme parks offer a budget-friendly alternative while still providing your kids with their fix of roller coasters and junk food. Similarly, off-the-beaten-path museums are often a cool and quirky way to spend an afternoon with the family.
2. Team up with other families
Sharing the burden of entertaining kids can go a long way toward preserving your sanity. If possible, team up with a group of parents to create a schedule for the week so that each family hosts all the kids for a single day of vacation. You might think you’ve made a tactical error when the whole neighborhood is running through your living room, shooting each other with Nerf guns, but the pain will be worth it after they move on to the next house.
3. Use the element of surprise
“Some of my favorite childhood memories involve my parents telling my brother, sister and me to grab our toothbrushes and get in the car,” says Margaret Mabon, a benefits consultant from Indiana. “Now, I use the same tactic on my three daughters. I don’t tell them where we’re headed, just that we’re going on an adventure.” Mabon says that she’ll take her girls to a hotel with a swimming pool a few towns away or to late-night showing of a movie or out for ice cream. “We don’t do anything too out of the ordinary, but the surprise factor makes it really special and something that my girls always talk about for a long time afterward.”
4. Let your kids be bored
There’s nothing wrong with telling your kids to go play or read in their rooms for the afternoon. In fact, letting kids contend with boredom is an important life skill and key part of their neurological development.
In a recent opinion piece for The New York Times, Pamela Paul argues that “it’s especially important that kids get bored — and be allowed to stay bored — when they’re young. That it not be considered ‘a problem’ to be avoided or eradicated by the higher-ups, but instead something kids grapple with on their own.” So, let your children be responsible for their own entertainment for the afternoon, even if it means enduring a little bit of whining.
5. Visit the library and local rec center
Local libraries and municipal recreation centers often sync their programming with local school district vacation schedules and offer special activities and camps during holidays. Even if they don’t offer week-long sessions, open gym and free swim are great ways to burn off extra energy if you live in a part of the country where spring break feels more like just another week of winter weather.
6. Check out Groupon or other daily deal offers
Groupon and other daily deal programs can be a great source for inspiration and budget-friendly ideas for entertaining kids. Plus, two-for-one offers help your entertainment dollars go further and free up cash for other adventures.
7. Get a jump on school work
Though your kids may balk, spending an hour or two each day working on upcoming school projects, studying for any big test or exams, or even getting a better handle on concepts they not yet mastered can go a long way toward taking the frustration out of nightly homework once school starts again.
8. Make ordinary things special
For younger kids, turning ordinary events, like meal times, into something special can be an easy way to add some fun to their normal routine. Print up menus, light candles and play restaurant at dinner. Pitch a tent in the backyard and go camping for a night. Let them eat cake for breakfast or wear fancy clothes to a matinee movie.
9. Be engaged
As painful as it can be to spend precious time that you could—or should—be working playing house or an endless game of Candyland, it’s helpful to remember that, more than anything, kids want our attention. Instead of putting them off with endless promises to play “later,” decide to give them your full attention for a set time. After you’ve lost five straight games of Uno or spent thirty minutes pretending to enjoy a tea party, you can send them off to play and go back to your day without guilt.
10. Take a deep breath and enjoy it
In a few short years, your kids will be begging to spend spring break at the beach with their friends and you’ll be wondering what to do for a whole week without them.