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Mindful Preparation for Spring Break

Posted on March 11, 2019 at 3:15 PM
Even though I am writing this with yet more snow is coming down from the sky, spring is coming around the corner. For anyone with school aged kids, this means one thing: Spring Break. A full week (or more) of your children away from school. They have been counting this down since the new year. You may have a trip planned or paying extra money for daycare. But for the rest of us, it is 9+ days of being stuck at home.

We all know what happens when your child, been it a kindergartener or a high school, when they have way too many days in a row at home. They start saying that they are bored, they get into stuff, too much screen time, the sibling fights are in full swing. Then, of course, us parents start losing our temper because we had to take time off work and are ready or a break from the children too. Being a mindful parent means acknowledging these possible pitfalls of spring break ahead of time and being creative with your solutions.

Here are some tips to managing spring break (without breaking the bank):

1. Create one goal most days with your children. The goal can be onechore around the house, one errand to run, or one activity to do. The idea is to keep things from being monotonous the entire break. And just one goal keeps your child from feeling overplanned.

2. Make sure some of your plans require physically leaving the house. If your family has a membership (such as the zoo, science museum, an indoor gym), now is the time to use it. But leaving the house can also include asking for help with your grocery store trip. Bundle the kids up and play in the snow (or hopefully it will actually be melted and play in puddles instead). It can be visiting you at work. My son loves coming with me to the office on a Saturday to play while I organize my desk and catch up on little things on my to do list.

3. Play dates or hanging out with friends. It can be easy to forget the simplest way to entertain your child is to be with their friends. Bonus, this might be a break for you as the parent or you can socialize with another mom or dad.

4. Planned fun activities for home. This can be anything that brings the family together with intentionality: movie night with popcorn, game night, baking a special treat together, or arts/crafts. My children helped me create a new "sensory bin" out of old grains from the pantry and mini dinosaurs to be buried then excavated, which has now been the source of hours of fun.

5. Allow and accept time for your kids to just be. Unstructured play time is on the decline here in the US. Lack of this can be detrimental to brain development and increase likelihood of many childhood mental health concerns. Children are many times overscheduled and overworked during the school year. They deserve time to just play in any way they see fit. Other than encouraging appropriate screen time limits (we all fudge this a little during breaks), they do deserve some freedom from their every day responsibilities. This helps them recharge, process, and prepare for the rush that is the last couple months of the school year.

6. Most importantly: take time away from your kids! A week is a long time to be home with your children. So ask for help from your supports around you. Maybe Grandma wants to have the kids for a couple hours midweek. Maybe ask your partner to fly solo while you spend time with one of your friends. And you can also get a babysitter to do date night. Just because your kids are home does not mean you stop being an independent adult. You also want to make sure you recharge so to best manage all the aforementioned complications of having your children home way longer than usual.

Anyway you do it, please be mindful to make this spring break enjoyable for you and your family. Here's to spring coming our way!

~Amy

Categories: Parenting, Children, Mindfulness

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