In my kids’ school district, we have a “balanced calendar.” This means a shorter summer and longer breaks throughout the year, including two weeks off for spring break. I live in Indiana, which means that spring break in March can either be 20 degrees and snowy or 70 degrees and sunny. It’s always a toss up.
While I wish that we could pack up and go somewhere warm during every school break, especially when it seems like that’s what everyone else is doing (thank you, social media), that’s not always feasible. I can see the occasional spring break vacation in the future when our kids are a little bit older, but right now we are mostly hanging out at home.
I will admit, long breaks from school with no travel plans in place can give me early pandemic vibes. I love having all of my kids home, but I also feel a little bit stuck at home. Since I thrive on routine and structure, I like to have a few ideas up my sleeve before spring break rolls around. Spring break isn’t exactly a break for mom, but I enjoy all of these activities too!
Have an afternoon teatime/story hour
During the pandemic, my oldest and I drank tea and read while her siblings napped. I only have one napper in the house now, and this is a great activity to do when we need to keep the house quiet in the afternoon. We make tea or hot chocolate and sit down with a pile of books. For a mom who gets overstimulated easily (me!), this makes for a nice break in the day when all of the kids are home. I have one child who is a bit more antsy than the others, but he will happily play with dinosaurs or cars when he gets bored with books.
Bake a family recipe
My kids and I love to bake together, and spring break is a great time to bake something mid-morning when there’s no place to be. Trying new recipes is fun, but we always seem to go back to the same tried and true banana chocolate chip muffin recipe from my childhood that I have memorized. I will make sure to buy a bunch of bananas the week prior to spring break so they have time to turn brown!
Blow up the bounce house
I know more and more families who have bounce houses in their playroom, and we are one of them. If it is too cold or too muddy to go outside, I blow up the bounce house and let the kids jump around. If you don’t have one, an alternative might be setting up an obstacle course in the house, or even pulling the cushions off the couch and building a fort. We allow that in our house, because winter gets long!
Explore different playgrounds
As creatures of habit, we are likely to visit the same two playgrounds during the school year. But during spring break, we have more time to travel. When the weather is nice, I love to find a new or new-to-us playground and spend a morning there. It gets us out of our normal surroundings and helps the kids burn some energy. If you’re ready to start exploring but not sure where to go, check out City Mom Collective, find your city, and search the website for a list of playgrounds in your area. I like to use this website when I’m traveling but unfamiliar with the area.
Take a quick day or overnight trip
If you have the budget and time for it, taking a quick day or overnight trip to a nearby city can be a good way to scratch the travel itch without having to plan and pay for a week-long vacation with little kids. This year, we are taking a quick trip to an indoor water park. I have friends who stay at a nearby hotel so the kids can use the pool, and I know others who like to visit an out-of-town zoo or museum. Since my kids have such a long break, getting away for a day or two can be a nice way to break up the weeks.
Go out for brunch
This seems so simple, but with three kids 7 and under, we don’t eat in restaurants often. I find that my kids are better behaved if we go out for breakfast or lunch, when they are in good moods and not too tired. A local restaurant that serves brunch is always a fun option because they have an interesting menu for me, and chocolate chip pancakes for the kids, which they would eat for every meal if I let them.
Head to a local library
I don’t go to the library as often as I did when my kids were all at home with me — story time was a regular activity back then. So sometimes I forget that it’s a great option when we need a quick morning outing! Like most libraries, mine offers various children’s programs, as well as a large children’s area where the kids can read and play. This year we might try a new-to-us library in a neighboring town — I was recently reminded that you can attend children’s programs and utilize library spaces even if you don’t live in the area or have a library card there.
Ask the kids to pick an activity
As much as I like to create the schedule, my kids usually surprise me when I ask them what they’d like to do. Oftentimes they just want to play in the backyard or go for a walk around the block, both of which I’m happy to do. When I involve them in making plans, they feel included and it’s more fun for everyone!