If you’re spending the week at home with your kids, March “Break” is anything but.
It can be a great time to relax and reconnect but it can also be stressful. You likely feel obligated to build forts, make crafts, bake cookies and take day trips. The pressure we already put on ourselves to entertain and enrich our kids at every waking moment tends to ramp up around break times, especially if we’re staying home.
For me, the key to staying sane is having an anchor activity that I can plan each day around. I also like to think about accomplishing some bigger goals so even when I’m losing my mind I can still sit back at think “well, at least Leila learned to fold towels this week.”
So whether you’re “staycationing” (can we please stop saying that?) or just hanging out at home, this day-by-plan should give everyone something to look forward to.
DAY 1, SATURDAY:
Let them stay up a wee bit late the night before and pray for a sleep in. Don’t cry when it doesn’t happen. You knew it wouldn’t and it’s much too early to let them break you.
Once they start killing each other or eating dog kibble, you get up and make pancakes but have the kids do the dishes because March Break is a GREAT a time to start chore habits that get forgotten during the usual chaos.
Hit the dollar store and the Bulk Barn where you’ll fill your baskets with paint, canvases, glitter, sprinkles, cake mix, cookie cutters, feather boas, popsicle sticks, glue, paint brushes and plasticine. Take your time in each store as though you have no plans, nowhere to be. Let them touch everything. Why not? You have NINE. MORE. DAYS.
At home, take an hour to yourself while the kids put away their new supplies. Then it’s family meeting time where everyone gets to say one thing they want to do this week. Suggested parameters include “has to be within a 30 minute drive and cannot involve bullets or snakes.” Then the kids use their new art supplies to create the schedule that gets posted for all to see.
Saturday night is a quiet dinner at home. Guess who does the dishes?
DAY 2, SUNDAY:
The morning is reserved for church or a SpongeBob Squarepants marathon, depending on your preference. Lunch is make-your-own pizza because it’s relatively easy and eats up a good chunk of time.
After clean up, head to the community rink, pool or court for a couple hours of physical activity. Walk there and back if you can.
Late afternoon, everyone retreats to his/her favourite spot for 90-minutes to rest and recharge.
In the evening consider having friends or neighbours over to celebrate the fact that there’s no school tomorrow. If it’s warm outside, a barbeque with dollar-store sparklers will make it fun and festive.
DAY 3, MONDAY:
Revel in the fact you don’t have to be a slave to the morning chaos. Declare it pajama and crazy hair day, thereby minimizing expectations that there will be an outing or contact with the outside world.
After breakfast, pull out those craft supplies and let them create masterpieces and glue things to each other while you catch up on your email and throw in some laundry.
After crafts and lunch it’s movie time. Deciding who gets to pick the movie and then what movie it is should take you through to dinner, if not Tuesday.
Early evening is reserved for family games night. Pull out some old board games or a deck of cards and teach your kids the classics: Old Maid, Go Fish, Gin Rummy, Hearts, etc.
If sugar doesn’t make them completely nuts, consider build-your-own sundaes for dessert or before bed.
DAY 4, TUESDAY:
Plan to spend the morning out of the house knocking one of the kids’ preferred activities off your list.
When you get home, the laundry you started yesterday is probably still in the dryer so teach the kids how to fold it and put it away. Or how to vacuum. Or how to load and unload the dishwasher. Whatever tasks are helpful and age-appropriate, dedicate some time to teaching your kids how to do them.
It’s Taco Tuesday, naturally, so once they’re bored with chores (or once you’ve dragged them out of their hiding places), let the kids have an hour on their devices while you read a magazine and brown the meat (not simultaneously). Have the kids make fun place cards for everyone and set the table.
Celebrate reaching the four-day mark with no major incidents by going out with your girlfriends for a glass of wine or having them over once the kids are in bed.
DAY 5, WEDNESDAY:
Arrange for a friend to come over or your child to go to a friend’s place. Trust me, they’re as sick of you as you are of them.
If you’re kid free, do WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT. If you’re hosting the friend(s), consider baking and decorating cookies, taking a trip to the park or library or popping some popcorn before settling in for a movie.
In the evening, remember to ask your kid if she had any homework over the break. If not, get the kids to help create a question jar you can use to stimulate dinner table conversation.
DAY 6, THURSDAY:
After breakfast set up a home spa with tubs of warm, soapy water and towels. Everyone get a foot soak, pedicure and scalp massage.
Spend the afternoon at your local library and let the kids take out as many books as they can carry. At home, it’s quiet time for an hour while mommy closes her eyes or commiserates with her pals on Facebook.
If a babysitter is available and in the budget, consider making Thursday a date night or girls night out. Leave early, have an appetizer AND dessert and make sure you get a “yes they’re sleeping” confirmation before attempting re-entry.
DAY 7, FRIDAY:
Today you’ll knock off another activity from the family to-do list and spend the rest of the day playing around the house. If your kids are the right age and into it, have them set up a classroom and teach their siblings about what they’re learning in school.
After that, ask them what country they’re most interested in or where they’d most like to go. Then go online and research the food from that place before you hit the grocery store for cooking supplies.
During dinner, pull out that question jar you made on Wednesday night and commit to a longer-than-normal dinner time with great conversation.
DAY 8-9 SATURDAY and SUNDAY:
Time to start easing back into routine.
Mom or Dad can make sure the laundry is done (let the kids help!) and kids can make sure that now-moldy lunch from last Friday has been unpacked.
Have a conversation about what their favourite thing about the break was. Get them to talk about what they learned to do around the house and let them help you create a weekly chore list. Have the kids pack their lunches on Sunday night and make a list of healthy snacks you can grab at the grocery store tomorrow. ALONE.
Author: Jen Millard
Jen Millard is a proud wife and mother of two living in Markham, Ontario. After adopting both her girls at age four, Jen and her husband Daren became passionate advocates for older child adoption, foster care reform and LCBO gift cards. An avid traveller, Jen counts Hawaii, Edinburgh, Greece and Canada’s east and west coasts among her favourite destinations. Jen is happiest when she’s got her nose in a book, a glass of wine at her side and a nap on the horizon. Jen is at her unhappiest when she is talking to her husband about her credit card bill or contemplating working out. When she’s not blogging, Jen is busy cleaning up after three badly-behaved pets and working as a part-time College instructor and Stella & Dot Stylist. Jen and her family spend their summers on Prince Edward Island.