It’s Spring Break … What on Earth do I do With My Kids?
Imagine, for a moment, the disappointment that envelops your wee ones’ crushed spirit when they realize that the week they’ve been looking forward to for months just turned into their worst nightmare; more school. Yes, I’m talking about spring break. It’s the week that comes too late for kids and too soon for parents, and can sometimes result in the desperate search for something to occupy your children. Sure, we would all love to take a grand vacation to some resort where there are both kid-friendly AND adult-friendly activities. But the truth of the matter is that unless you’ve spent several months planning and saving, this isn’t always a realistic option. So now you sit, looking into the sad little face of your offspring and wonder, “Do I really want to send you to a substitute school program for the week?” The answer should be simply: “NO!”
Believe it or not, there IS a way to keep from breaking the bank and still have a memorable, exciting vacation, right where you are. And honestly, when you factor in the ever-increasing prices of these so-called “camps” what it really boils down to is a lot of money for very little payoff for your children. Even if you take a few days off work to plan a couple fun activities in your local area, you’re probably still not losing as much money as you would be spending on a day camp. So what’s the benefit of taking a few days off? Glad you asked! You get some genuine engagement with your precious little ones; quality time that you miss out on during the hurried, day-to-day routines; most importantly, you are creating memories that might just be the things your child looks back on and remembers as an adult. Those meaningful moments are captured in the smallest of places, and here are just a few ideas to get you started!
1) Sleep-over Madness: Reach out to the parents of your child’s friends and organize a week’s worth of sleep-overs. Each parent commits to planning one night of fun and hosting for all the kiddos. Not only do the kids have a blast staying at someone else’s house each night, but the parents also get to enjoy several nights alone; added bonus! Take a look at how creative a parent could get with the old adage of “building a fort.” Believe it or not, this would actually work to develop some team-building skills; for BOTH the children and the parents! Add a couple of video games, some snacks, books, crafts and voila you have lots of fun for the kids at very little cost and even some benefits for the parents!
2) Bedroom Makeover: Tackle the challenge of completely revamping their bedrooms. Do a new project each day (i.e. painting, moving furniture, changing décor, adding a stereo, etc.). Your children will, unknowingly, be cooperating with you to make their room feel more mature, fun, inviting, etc. Just remember … if you have a child who wants to paint the walls black and put up emo posters, you better be willing to compromise if you invite the idea!
3) Public Service Goes a Long Way: You may never realize it, but there are so many opportunities for your children, even at a young age, to begin learning about how they can affect the world around them. And if you can find moments to help your kids understand their impact, it just might make a difference in the decisions they make as growing young adults in the future. Here are just a few examples of the types of public service that your kids will probably enjoy and still learn something from:
A) Maintaining Colorado hiking trails – http://www.coloradotrail.org/volunteer.html
B) Working to build homes for those in need – http://www.habitat.org/getinv/volunteer_programs.aspx
C) Volunteering to help feed or walk the animals at a local aquarium, zoo or humane society
D) Asking your local fire station if your child can spend a day riding along
These are all ideas that get your kids active and excited, while also serving a larger purpose of teaching them to appreciate what’s really valuable in life.
4) Producer/Director Extraordinaire: You know that dusty video recorder that you only bust out a handful of times during the year to record Christmas morning or birthdays? Well, why not put that expensive equipment to some good use? Sit down and get creative! Write a short film, then pick your actors (friends and family members) and then make a movie! It will be something to have to look back on and reflect in those very moments when you did something together as a family.
5) 5K Challenge: Run a race together! Even if you end up walking most of it, this could instill a life-long love of the sport in your kids, as well as bring about a sense of accomplishment for them. You can save the running bib and have it framed as a memento.
These are all ideas that could potentially become family traditions that you and your children look forward to every year, and possibly beyond. Use some creativity to find ways to incorporate the ideals you hope to impart to your children with some added fun to make it a memory that will last a lifetime!