Surviving Spring Break Week with Kids

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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