For a lot of families who aren’t working or travelling during March break, it can be a time to just exhale. A time when we don’t have to worry about getting everyone up in the morning, making lunches, getting to school on time, and shuttling around to programs.
When kids don’t have to be anywhere, the downtime can go one of two ways. It can create the space needed for everyone to relax, to get lost in imaginative and active play, have pajama parties, and hang out. Or it can quickly turn into parents fielding requests for television, video games, and computers, followed by the dreaded phrase “I’m bored.”
Anticipating that there will be times when kids aren’t happily ensconced in hours of unstructured play and a little preparation can go a long way to bolster everyone’s resolve in those moments when it might be easy to succumb to the electronics. And remember, boredom isn’t a bad thing, it forces kids to get creative!
Here are seven ways planning ahead can help keep spring break screen time to a minimum and help your family have a relaxing week at home.
1. Create guidelines
Sit down with everyone before the break and agree on an amount of screen time that works for your family. You can even post it somewhere central as a reminder for everyone.
2. Stock up on supplies
3. Idea jar
Have a family meeting and come up with fun ideas for what to do instead of screen time. Have everyone write down their ideas (or assign a scribe) and put them in a bowl or mason jar. When the first “I’m bored” gets uttered, just point to the jar.
4. Book some time for yourself
Older kids in the neighbourhood, relatives, or babysitters, can be amazing pinch hitters for when adults need a break. Book a responsible teen to come and play with your kids outside or take them to a nearby park.
5. Nearby attractions
A walk to a favourite neighbourhood hangout like the park, library, or pet store can be a good way to get everyone out the door, without taking a huge outing, when cabin fever hits.
6. Organize the outdoor gear
Replace any lost mittens, and make sure skates, helmets, toboggans, snowshoes, and shovels are easily accessible ahead of time. Being organized will help make outdoor play an easier thing to fit in spontaneously throughout the week.
7. Daily themes
Kids love theme days, like “Pink Day” or “Backwards Day.” Ask them to come up with fun suggestions and then make lists of activities that they can do that are “on theme.” One great idea: “Olympics Day.”
With a little bit of planning, you can have a fun and active break while still getting an actual break. Enjoy it and consider this good practice for the summer, which is—as impossible as it is to believe—just around the corner.