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Summary:

I love Spring Break… when there’s a trip involved. Alas, I haven’t taken a real vacation since Spring Break 2002. Sure, my family took a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio and Austin last year, but that was no vacation between the drive and a volleyball tournament (the real reason for the trip). If you’re one of the lucky ones taking a vacation, here are some tips for packing.

This year, one kid has driver’s ed classes for the week, another takes a test and some have a few appointments. So this Spring Break gives us an opportunity to catch up and do things that we don’t want to do during the school year. But that doesn’t mean the thought of the younger two staying home all week doesn’t stress me out. The 5-year-old and 10-year-old argue, then come growling or crying into Mom’s office.

So what can you do to manage kids during Spring Break if you stay home?

Editor’s note: With this post we welcome Meryl K. Evans to the WebWorkerDaily team. Meryl is the author of Brilliant Outlook Pocketbook and the co-author of Adapting to Web Standards: CSS and Ajax for Big Sites. She has written and edited for a bunch of places online and off. A native Texan, she lives a heartbeat north of Dallas in Plano, Texas with her husband and three children.

I love Spring Break… when there’s a trip involved. Alas, I haven’t taken a real vacation since Spring Break 2002. Sure, my family took a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio and Austin last year, but that was no vacation between the drive and a volleyball tournament (the real reason for the trip). If you’re one of the lucky ones taking a vacation, here are some tips for packing.

This year, one kid has driver’s ed classes for the week, another takes a test and some have a few appointments. So this Spring Break gives us an opportunity to catch up and do things that we don’t want to do during the school year. But that doesn’t mean the thought of the younger two staying home all week doesn’t stress me out. The 5-year-old and 10-year-old argue, then come growling or crying into Mom’s office.

So what can you do to manage kids during Spring Break if you stay home?

Take the week off. Some web workers don’t take vacations because many of them don’t get paid while on vacation. Though you might not get away for the break, you can rest your mind by taking the opportunity to spend time with your family now. Too many folks think, “Oh, I’ll spend time with my kids when my business takes off or we get X dollars in our bank account.” Put away the “someday” thinking and “just do it” now. Kids grow up fast. They’re going to be adults far longer than they are kids.

Work early in the morning. Compromise by working early in the morning and (hopefully) let the kids sleep late. Kids tend to take their time waking up on days off. Early morning offers a good time to get a little work done before the interruption comes. It’s a compromise between doing some work and taking the afternoons off. Or you can switch to working late at night after they go to sleep, if you prefer.

Hire a high schooler. A student in high school would appreciate the opportunity to earn a little cash without committing to a job. Children love older kids who aren’t their siblings. Find a high schooler who can drive so s/he takes the kids to the park or the library. This way the kids have fun and get out of the house leaving you with a few hours of quiet work time.

Enroll them in a program or camp. Places like tennis centers, community centers, daycares and religious institutions offer part-time or full-time programs and camp. These stave off the “I’m bored” blues by giving the kids a place to go for a few hours. If your kids are like mine, they’ll complain of boredom when they get home, but at least you’ll free yourself from the whining for a little while.

Set aside family time. Plan two or three activities for the week. See a movie, go to a museum, go out for breakfast, find an indoor pool, ride bikes, or visit family and friends. Tell your kids you’ve scheduled time to do X activities. You could use it as a motivator for them to work through things on their own and use these activities as their reward. Do try to have one activity with no reward tied to it.

Ship them off to Visit relatives. For winter break, my kids took turns to spend a few days with Grandma, who lives an hour away. This way they get all of Grandma’s attention. You still enjoy a quieter home with one child visiting a relative and the rest at home.

Play with friends. Schedule play dates with friends. You may have to invite them to your home, but they might bug you less when they have a friend over. My kids don’t interrupt me as much and they’re happy to play with someone. Win-win!

Spring Break isn’t so bad because it’s only five days (the weekends are always there). Summer — now that’s a different story, and one I’m not looking forward to telling. I’m fretting about that already.

What do you plan to do for Spring Break? How about for the too-long summer break?

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  1. What To Read On The GigaOM Network Monday, March 9, 2009

    [...] Here come green social networks. (Earth2Tech) An app store for jailbroken iPhones. (theAppleBlog) How to survive Spring Break with Kids. (WebWorkerDaily) [...]

  2. Greetings from a fellow Planoite!

    My kid is now in college, but how we managed Spring Break varied by age and my deadlines. I always tried to make a couple of days during the week work-free so we could go do something together.

    Next week is his break, and my husband is going to take a couple of days off. We’re definitely going to the Fillmore for lunch on St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m going to try very hard to step away from the computer for a couple of days. I’ve been working weekends and deserve a break!

  3. GoEverywhere Team Monday, March 9, 2009

    Welcome Meryl! Spring break (and as you said, summer break) can be difficult for parents that work at home. I agree with all of your tips, especially playing with friends and visiting relatives. Using the GoEverywhere webtop (imagine your desktop on the web) you can access your files and many great programs with a single sign in no matter what computer you happen to be using – so you can work while visiting Grandma or even while taking your kids to the local library. This way you can get out of the house with your children, and still get a little bit of work done.

  4. I can relate to what Meryl describes; I work from home most of the time, and it does require some adapting on my part to get work done when the kids are out of school–much, I would add, like it requires adapting to the routines of my colleagues the 12 or so hours a week I’m at the “real” office.

    For me, it’s more about my perception and attitude than it is any specific actions or plans. When I think of my children as interruptions to be dealt with, they are a bother, and I’m quickly annoyed–and we all suffer. However, when I remind myself that they are a blessing and that’s it’s privilege to interact with them for the short time I have them at home, then things go very differently. In the big scheme of things, my children are a much bigger priority than my job.

    Am I successful with this all the time? No. But my mindset definitely makes a difference. And it also helps that my wife and I have put in the time and energy to train our children to be respectful, to find things to do on their own, and to be generally well behaved. We don’t have “I’m bored, find me something to do” at our house.

  5. Not only when you have kids you have to take a break. I feel the need sometimes to take a break, go somewhere, relax and feel good.

  6. @Julie, glad to meet another Planoite here at WWD. What a great idea for St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s stay connected.

    @GoEverywhere, you’re right — we have all kinds of apps at our disposal so we can work anywhere. Unfortunately, I’ve found that when I go to grandma’s — I can’t get work done. Her desk is not comfortable and I can’t find a “place” in her house (it’s lovely) that gets me in the mood for work. I think the problem is that when I go there, it’s for holidays and gatherings, which is the wrong mindset.

    @Dan, I run into that problem on some afternoons. I have a high schooler that comes after school on some days and he’s made a difference. But that doesn’t keep the kindergartener from coming in my office every five minutes. I love to hear what he has to say — just wish he’d say it all instead of every five minutes.

    @Anelly, good for you in taking the time to take a break for yourself. Tennis and gaming are my breaks! Lucky for me, I do game reviews — so I can’t feel too guilty.

    Thanks for the warm welcome, all!

  7. Links: St. Patrick’s Day Edition 2009 | Meryl.net Friday, March 13, 2009

    [...] Surviving Spring Break Week with Kids: My debut on WebWorkerDaily. Excited to officially join the community. Or would you rather read about dealing with taxes? [...]

  8. How’s everyone doing spring break (I know not all have it this week… some next week and later)? It worked out great for my family to send my youngest to Grandma’s for half of the week and swap with his older brother for the rest of the week. No brother fights. Teen daughter in her little world.

  9. Dealing With Distractions Friday, March 20, 2009

    [...] a web worker has a completely different set of distractions. Kids are an additional distraction for many of my friends, and while I’ve avoided that particular one, I have plenty of my own. [...]

  10. Spring Break Vacation | Go Nuts At A Spring Break Ice Cream Social | Cape Cod Hotels – Bayside Resort Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    [...] Surviving Spring Break Week with Kids – What To Read On The GigaOM Network says: March 9th, 2009 11:21am. [...] Here come green social networks. (Earth2Tech) An app store for jailbroken iPhones. (theAppleBlog) How to survive Spring Break with Kids. (WebWorkerDaily) [...] … [...]

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