It seems like everyone goes out of town during spring break and then posts their fabulous adventures on Instagram for those stuck at home to envy. Been there, done that — my husband was a tax accountant for many years, and spring break occurred during his busiest time. Since we didn’t have the income for more than one vacation each year, we stayed in town during spring break every year when the kids were younger.
If you are staying home for the kids’ annual week off from school, don’t fret — a homegrown spring break can be memorable and a lot of fun. Below are some suggestions for making the most of that free time!
Spring Break at Home
Take a mini-trip.
If you are unable to leave town for the entire week, how about making time for a quick day trip? There are several options just a couple of hours away:
Huntsville Space and Rocket Center – an educational trip, WITH RIDES? Can’t beat it.
DeSoto Caverns State Park – Not far at all — right down the road in Childersburg.
Take a break, even if you have to work when the kids are off.
If your kids are old enough to stay home for the couple of hours before you get home from work, but you aren’t quite ready for them to fend for themselves all day, get together with another family and hire a teen babysitter in your neighborhood. The teen makes spending money, and you know your children are being supervised. Reverse this if you are the mom of a teenager who will be in town and needs some cash!
Then, when you get home from work, have a mini-break each night with them and plan some low-key fun: cook dinner together, screen a favorite movie outside, teach the kids a favorite board or card game — something you wouldn’t normally do on a school night.
Have fun without the fees.
Don’t let financial worries keep you from enjoying your spring break! “The best things in life are free” is a cliche because it’s true. Pack a picnic, hop in the car, and head to your favorite local park for a day in the outdoors. One of my favorite spring break memories is taking my daughter and her doll (complete with doll stroller) for a long walk in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We made it into a photo shoot, too — so easy to do now with your phone. Or head to Vulcan (or do you call it “THE” Vulcan?) for lovely views of the city with a little history thrown in.
Relax some rules.
Bedtime, schmedtime! Stay up late for the first part of the week (reinstate bedtime by Thursday, please, on behalf of teachers everywhere), build forts in the living room and leave them up a few days, binge a favorite show together, or pick an activity from this list to add some fun to your days at the house.
Don’t fall into a social media trap.
So you took your day trip, visited Vulcan, and rode bikes down Lakeshore Trail, posting each event to your Insta so everyone would know what a GREAT spring break you are having . . . Come Thursday, you all stayed in your PJ’s all day, ate Cheetos for lunch, and you let your kids play on their iPads for three hours straight. Nothing to post? Maybe not — or maybe letting other moms see your pajama-clad selves with Cheeto dust mustaches lying on the couch in an electronic-induced zombie state will give them permission to take a deep breath and quit trying so hard.
Let the kids take the lead.
I am not talking about a total “yes day” (although that’s perfectly fine if that’s your thing.) Just let the kids decide what they’d like to do. Some of my best memories involve going to the playground at our local elementary school with some friends and riding bikes in the parking lot, my son and our neighbor playing flashlight tag in the woods behind our houses (remember — late bedtime is okay!), and watching a Disney movie for the millionth time at 10:00 a.m. I didn’t plan any of this — the kids did, and they loved it.
Whether in town or out, remember that your kids will pick up on your attitude about however your family spends your break. Make a loose plan with wiggle room for a few changes, with taking each day as it comes and enjoying each other’s company being your main goal. Time with you is what they really want, and this week is the perfect opportunity to give that to them.