Spring break… two words that strike both excitement and fear in the hearts of anyone with school aged children. OF COURSE it is exciting to watch the kids get a much needed break from the everyday monotony of school, but it can also cause hurdles for both working and stay at home parents.
In the past I’ve dealt with struggling to find and afford a sitter for break, stress of being stuck in the house for literally two weeks straight, and now I have a new struggle. Mom-guilt for not spending every waking second with my kids on their break.
Something that I’ve had to prepare myself for after I reentered the 40 hour a week workforce is the GUILT that I feel over school breaks. My kids are in a year round school system which means fall, winter, and spring break are each 2 weeks long instead of the traditional 1 week, and summer break is shortened.
The company I work for has a generous PTO program, but it is still not enough to take off every single day of every single break that the kids get from school. Which means instead of late nights and day time adventures, my kids still get up early to go to the sitter when I get up to go to work.
Cue the mom guilt.
It’s insane that I feel so guilty for going to work when my kids are not at school. After all, if I wasn’t at work, would I be spending every spare minute making sure they were gardening, playing, crafting, or being engaged in some spring related activity? Absolutely not.
I would be in the fetal position in the corner of the living room wondering what the hell is smeared on the bathroom wall and worrying about the mental status of my kids’ teacher. Seriously, 25+ kids every day… she must be a saint.
Honestly, I think that the pressure that I put on myself as a working mom to make the most of the time we DO have together has made it to where I get more out of spring break than I did as a stay at home mom.
All jokes aside, school breaks are exciting for the kids. I try to approach them with as much positivity as possible. In this post I’m going to share how I make the most out of school breaks, when I still have to go to work like normal.
- Make the Most of Your Evenings
Even if I still have a busy day of work and errands, not having to come home and do the homework rush saves me time and stress. I try to make sure we have activities planned for when I get home to set apart the break nights from a regular school night.
Cook a Special Dinner
One thing that we enjoy is cooking together, even though my oldest is EXTREMELY picky. The biggest hit in my house is make-your-own pizza and pancake night. Get special mix ins and toppings to make it extra special! I like to add whipped cream, mini marshmallows, or chocolate chips to the top, and the girls love that they can customize their dinner.
Add a Special Dessert
I know what you’re thinking… do we really want to add dessert to the whipped cream and syrup induced sugar high that the kids have going on right now. YES! Its spring break and regular dinner rules do not apply tonight. A favorite in my house is brownies (nothing fancy over here… we make them from the box). You can always add toppings to this as well.
Have a dinner-time picnic
My kids LOVE spring picnics (weather permitting). After a long winter stuck inside, we take every chance that we can to be outside. This doesn’t have to be super extravagant- peanut butter and jelly, fruit and chips will even do. After all everything tastes better outside.
Check out these waterproof picnic blanket options from Amazon. I highly recommend these- we get a TON of use out of ours. It keeps dew from soaking through the blanket and it can be used at the beach as well.
If you really want to go the extra mile, there are many affordable baskets available online.
Staying up late is always a treat, at least to my kids. Staying up an extra 45 minutes to play board games or finish a movie will make the night feel more special.
2. Send special activities or snacks to the baby sitter
I am very lucky because my mom was able to retire from her job just over a year ago, and she now watches my daughters and nephews full time, so I know that the kids LOVE to go there during the day.
I still like to send spring related activities with them for the day. Even something as simple as bubble wands, scented crayons for rainy or cold days can make the day more exciting. I try to avoid any super hands on crafts or complicated activities to send with them to preserve grandma’s sanity.
You’re welcome mom.
I also like to let them pick out special snacks or drinks to take with them, or even better, make something at home the night before to take (cookies, brownies, treat bags, etc.). My girls usually opt for home baked cookies or popsicles.
3. Plan, Plan, Plan
I am all about planning. I feel that making a list of what we’re doing each night helps me to use the time we have more efficiently. I make a list of EVERYTHING we want to do over the course of the break (let the kids help you come up with ideas) and hang it on the fridge. I also get satisfaction from putting a check through each activity as we do it.
We usually have everything from scavenger hunt in the park, to painting flower pots for Easter, to going to the local zoo on here. Every little thing that you can cross of is a victory.
Plus, looking at it will make you feel less guilty on the nights you plan to do ‘nothing’.
4. Schedule a full day activity for your days off
In our house, I try to schedule at least one destination trip over the course of break. This doesn’t necessarily have to cost a ton of money. This is when I will maximize the use of any memberships I have. Last year, I bought a membership to the local Children’s Museum, this year I have one to the local zoo.
We also like to explore parks by starting at the playground and moving on to animal watching, hiking, or looking for anything that we can use in one of our many crafts (acorns, pinecones, pretty rocks… my kids can find the beauty in everything… and they may have a bit of a hoarding problem when it comes to all things craft related)
Stay at home options
Another spring break tradition we have is sprucing up the yard and planting flowers (or if it’s much too cold, getting the yard ready to plant the flowers).
We are all about home made, DIY decorations at our house. Spending an entire day focusing on the house might not sound super exciting, but my kids LOVE IT! We like to paint flower planters, make new spring wind chimes, paint birdhouses, pretty much anything we can to welcome spring and kill a few hours. Check out these pins for extra inspiration.
Whatever you decide to do, slow down and savor this time with your kids. Enjoy the moments that you can be together without rushing and remember, anything you are doing together as a family is fun for them.
How do you handle your kids spring break? Are you hands on, or do you prefer to be laid back and be spontaneous? Contact me, I’d love to hear from you
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