We are all yearning for a spring break refresh. If you have a trip planned, congratulations! If not, you can still have a delightful and restorative week at home. A staycation—or a few day trips—can go a long way towards making spring break a memorable time. If you can’t get time off, the budget is tight, or you just never got it together to plan anything, don’t let that discourage you from making the most of the week. Here are some very intentional ways to have a wonderful, low-key spring break.
Choose Your Ideal Spring Break
First, do some thinking. Carefully consider what you—and your family—really need this year. Are you exhausted? Burned out? Bored? Missing certain friends or family? What would be the most fruitful use of the days you have?
Next, call a family meeting. Get input from everyone. Make this a fun event; use a whiteboard and make some popcorn. The idea is to make sure each family member gets at least one of their spring break wishes fulfilled. What are some things they want to do? It could be as simple as miniature golf at a local course or a sleepover with friends. Make sure all the kids are represented, but Mom and Dad get to weigh in too. Everyone deserves to get something out of spring break.
Do this right away. Studies have shown that looking forward to an event produces nearly as much happiness as the actual event itself! So the sooner you plan your list of fun things, the sooner the fun begins.
As you listen to everyone’s ideas, consider a few things: What do you have to work with? For example, can either parent take some days, or half days, off? What can you afford to spend? Which friends will be around? Are there any special events in your area? Will the weather be conducive to your desired activities (skiing, hiking, fishing, etc.)? You can use the whiteboard to draw up the days and how they might be spent and to keep a running list of each family member’s ideas.
When evaluating your choices, think about how you will feel on Monday when you go back to school or work. Consider which activities will give you a nice feeling of satisfaction or a warm memory, the ones that would make you actually FEEL like you had a break. Time off from chores? A fun new experience? If everybody gets one or two things that feel special, the break will have more meaning.
A Relaxing Break
For the kids, if rest and relaxation is the goal, maybe some pajama days? Movie afternoons at home? All-day playdates with friends just building Legos or goofing around outside might be the answer. Family game nights or neighborhood walks might appeal. Rotate toys from the bottom of the toy box or use a gift card to buy a new imaginative toy, like a model airplane or art supplies. Simply leaving space in each day to let the child choose how to spend it can be a peaceful and creative way to reset.
What are some things you say you never have time for? A game of monopoly? A giant puzzle? Reading a long chapter book? Finally doing a few of those things will be very rewarding.
A Social Break
If your family is craving some social activity, how about a party? Invite two or three families over for a dinner. It might sound too tiring to pull off, but, if the whole family is involved, you can divide up cleaning chores and perhaps ask the guests to bring dessert or a side dish. You could even just order pizzas. I have found that most people are so thrilled to be invited anywhere, they don’t care what’s on the menu. It’s really just about the fellowship. Most likely everyone is looking for some fun over spring break, and a party for no reason might be just the answer. In addition to being fun, teaching your children how to plan, execute, and enjoy a party is a very valuable life skill.
Or be a tourist in your own town. If someone were visiting, where would you take them? Is there a historical site, park, or restaurant you’ve never been to? Imagine if you were moving in a few months—what places would you wish you had taken advantage of?
One of our very favorite spring break hacks was to book a hotel nearby for just one night. It was a great way to combat the cabin fever that comes from being sick of your own four walls or stuck inside with lousy weather. We chose one with an indoor pool and, after check-in, the kids played in the pool for a couple of hours while we parents either joined in the swimming or sat in chairs watching and sipping a cocktail. Then we would go out to a local restaurant and stay up late watching movies in our room. We did this as a family, but I have friends who did this with two moms and a group of kids. They booked two adjoining rooms and had a ball.
Another simple adventure might be getting tickets to the theatre, a concert, or a sporting event. This is especially fun if it occurs on a weeknight when normally you might not be able to attend.
For Mom and Dad, get a babysitter one night and go on a date night with your spouse.
A Productive Break
If you long to be productive during the break, perhaps there is a project you have been wanting to tackle around the house. I know, the kids might be horrified if you ask them to help, but it’s your spring break too! If finally organizing that pantry would make your heart sing, you can plan the time to do that.
If your work schedule has you too busy to take time off, maybe you can swap a day with another family. Let them take the kids for a full day so you can get a lot of work or much-needed errands done, and then you can return the favor on another day.
If you have teens, spring break can be an excellent time to catch up on their activities. This may not be the most exciting way to spend a vacation, but if you can allocate some hours to getting ahead, it can relieve some of the stress of their busy schedule when the break is over. Work on scout badges, complete service hours, begin a summer job hunt, visit colleges, or give their bedroom a deep clean. (A mom can dream, can’t she?)
Keep It Simple and Purposeful
It doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun. Here are some more ideas:
- Eating breakfast at a diner
- Letting the kids make dinner
- Visiting family or friends for the day
- Tubing/sledding/biking or another outside activity
- Going to a new playground or park for the afternoon
- Trying a new cuisine like Thai or Indian
- Taking a lesson in golf, tennis, snowboarding, sewing, pottery, or any other skill you’ve been curious about
Identifying goals and wish lists for the break can help you feel successful about the break when it’s over. You can’t expect every day to be a gem, but knowing what you hoped to enjoy or accomplish will give you something to celebrate when it’s all over.
If you use some of these ideas, or if you have any other great thoughts, please post them on social media and tag us (@familiustalk) to let us share in your success! We can all learn from each other; many of these ideas I got from other mothers way back in the day when my children were in preschool. As you go through the week, make sure to talk about your adventures and commemorate them with your family. This is a good way to remind yourself what you did on your break and how much fun you had.
Pam Lobley began her career as an actress and comedian. She wrote and performed in many improv and sketch comedy shows in New York City, appeared in commercials, worked as a hand model, and wrote several plays. Her humor columns have appeared in many national newspapers and websites, and she wrote regularly for “The Bergen Record” for three years. Some of her funniest and favorite columns from those years are now available in her book “Better Living Through Chaos”. She lives in New Jersey with her family. Visit www.pamlobley.com to learn more about her or read her latest blog.