Ever feel like ‘breaks’ are more exhausting than regular life? I look forward to Spring Break, Christmas Break, Summer Break and vacation breaks, but I can easily get to the end of them wondering where I missed the ‘break’ part. It’s bad when I feel like I need a holiday after my holiday.
See, after a few days without routine and structure, we all start to come unglued. Having no agenda is fun at first but then we start to get tired of each other and even a bit bored. When this happens, my kids start to test boundaries and push buttons causing everyone’s volume to go up. This makes me feel stretched like a rubber band. I start to get irritable and edgy and then if no one ‘smartens up’ I may even snap. And yet, it’s supposed to be a fun and happy break!
So how do we keep this from happening?
Well there’s a scientific phrase that I’ve started to try to live by: CHANCE FAVORS THE PREPARED MIND.
The gist of this is that if you make a plan, you’re more likely to succeed even if you don’t end up following the plan.
So make a plan. Even if it’s simple. A little structure and intentionality will help your week go much smoother.
If you’re a free-spirited kind of person, simply make a bucket list of ideas to fall back on if things start to get swirly. Pick an idea from the list and presto you’re on your way to calming the chaos. Most of the time, bored kids just need you to help them get started on a fun activity
What goes on a bucket list? The internet is full of ideas but here are a few of our family favorites:
- Build a tent
- Haul out the playdoh – playdoh is always a last resort for me but because it’s a rare treat, the kids always get excited about it
- Sidewalk chalk and/or bubbles – even if the weather’s cool, bundle up and head outside for a long missed activity
- Start collecting recyclables to have on hand and then let you kids loose to be creative: decorate Kleenex boxes, make shields from cereal boxes, clean and decorate cans to use for bowling, cut out magazines or flyers for collages, etc.
- Head to the Dollar Store and buy miscellaneous craft supplies to have on hand: Popsicle sticks, pompoms, pipe cleaners, dried pasta, buttons, tissue paper, paints, STICKERS, new markers, etc
- Balloons! These are always tons of fun – either blow up a bunch and play keep up or do a more structured game of volleyball or monkey in the middle
- Bake something together – share some with friends or neighbours afterwards
- Make an obstacle course
- Do a science experiment: volcanoes are always a hit but there’s lots of other ideas on the internet
- Go to MCC and buy a new puzzle, game or book
- Play charades (or other games)
- Bring out costumes or puppets and make skits, dances, or plays – extra fun is to record them to send to their dad or grandparents
- Have a tea party
- Make a scavenger hunt
- Start seeds for your garden
- Paint nails
- Spontaneously invite someone over
- Wash the toys with wet wipes – my 3 year old loves doing this but for older kids it can also double as consequence 😉
- Whatever other fun things your kids love to do…
If you’re super creative you can make a theme and do activities each day related to that theme. Theme ideas are limitless but could include Star Wars, Lego, Pioneer Days, a certain country, or the Fruits of the Spirit. Theme weeks can be as full or as simple as you want. Even one special thing a day will make it feel super fun for your kids.
Activities that cost a little but can be fun are:
- Going to a museum
- Signing up for a Spring Break Camp at Revelation Martial Arts, Flippers Gymnastic or the Cultural Arts Centre
- Going to see a movie at the theatre
- Planning a playdate at Kidzone or the pool
- Taking the kids to a hotel for night
Whatever you end up doing here are a few important keys to remember to include:
Kids need to get active every day (remember: move it or lose it) so make sure to include some ‘recess’ time each day.
Have a quiet time (or two) everyday. This will help bring the energy levels down and reintegrate their brains. Try to avoid using TV or media as these don’t help their brains quiet effectively. Excellent quieting activities include reading, listening to music or stories, colouring, and puzzling.
Kids need time to play and have fun on their own. It’s always a blessing when they are self-entertaining and we as moms can get a few things done on our own. BUT make sure your week isn’t too busy that you don’t have time to pause your agenda to be engaged with your kids. When your kids start to unravel (and they will) they will need your help to reintegrate themselves. Having margin in your week to focus on building into your kids is really important.
Plan a night to go for coffee with friends or do something for yourself that will make you feel recharged!
With just a little thought and the right perspective, you can not only survive but THRIVE during your Spring Break.