We all know the drill – school lets out for winter break, spring break, or summer break and after about three days everything just seems chaotic. School breaks are challenging because the routines the entire family is used to are changed. I’ve finally figured out these four tips for making school breaks more pleasant.
And in no particular order, here they are:
Keep a routine.
I know, it is fun to let the kids sleep in and “take a break” from the routine of getting up and ready to go to school. However, kids do so much better when they can anticipate what is going to happen next. I’m not recommending a military style routine, unless that’s what your family is used to already. What I am suggesting is try to do about the same things at about the same time every day during the break. The routine in our house looks something like this: Breakfast around 8:30; then morning chores; then family activity around 10:30. After that, lunch is at noon; followed by some quite time/movie (so the baby can nap); then afternoon chores; then a craft or a family game (something together); then dinner and stories; baths around 7:30 p.m. Finally, bed time is about 8:30 p.m. Sometimes we throw in an activity after supper instead of the craft or game after the afternoon chores. Staying to this routine helps our children know what to expect and when to expect it – and that can literally make all the difference.
Get out of the house.
This suggestion is so important, especially for my family. I have to get out of the house every day, no matter the weather. Even if it’s just to walk around the back yard once, or sit on the porch steps, getting out of the house is a fantastic reset for children and parents alike. Cabin fever is a real issue and can lead to depression and anxiety. So, if the kids are bouncing off the walls, get them out from inside of them. If it’s hot out, turn on the sprinklers. If it’s cold, bundle them up in scarves and gloves. They don’t need to be outside for long, 15 min will do. But it increases the mood and malleability of everyone in the household.
Create something together.
Sometimes creating something can be as simple as getting out the water colors, paper, brushes, and sitting down together to make a picture. Or it can be dumping the blocks out and building a tower – just to knock it down again. It doesn’t need to be something magnificent or Pinterest worthy, complicated or amazing. The project just needs to be a way for children to express themselves in a different way. This again allows them to reset their brains, spend some time with their parent, and enjoy themselves without being overly loud.
Finally, serve others.
Make some cookies and take them to a neighbor. Visit a family and help rake their leaves. Visit with a new mother, or a grandparent. Spend time with the people in the neighborhood and show children that the best way to spend time is by helping others out. It’s amazing the attitude change that comes when children spend time focusing on others, rather than themselves.
Using these four techniques helps my family enjoy our school breaks, instead of dread them. And we can laugh at the song “And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again,” instead of ruefully nod our heads in agreement.
How about your family? Do you have any tricks up your sleeves to make school breaks pass more smoothly? I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below, or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org