How to survive spring break with school-aged children

Spring break is just around the corner. And while your kids may be really excited about taking a pause from school, you might not be as enthusiastic about the idea.

The pressure of planning day trips, keeping your children entertained during every waking hour, and stopping arguments before they get out of hand can cause excessive stress levels. Add into the mix keeping your home at least reasonably tidy while also holding down a job and spring break can easily become something you dread seeing marked on the calendar.

Make spring break different this year and use our survival tips to help you stay on top of things. Use any spare time you have to start planning now and turn this spring break into one you actually enjoy with your kids.

Have a plan

No matter how spontaneous you may want to be, it’s wise to have a basic plan for spring break. Plan at least one big activity each day so your family has something to look forward to.

From afternoons at the park and eating lunch out to going to the movies and taking a day trip somewhere new, have one significant activity on your calendar every day throughout spring break. You don’t want to reach the end of the week and realize you spent it like any other week.

Involve your children

Your children are people, too, with their own feelings, ideas, desires, and needs. However old they are, get them involved and ask them what they’d like to do during spring break.

Try and remember back to when you went to school and how meaningful spring break was to you. Show your children that you care about what they want and invite them to help you plan activities for the week. 

Don’t ban screen time

Some parents forbid their children to watch TV, play video games, or use their smartphones in an effort to bring the family closer together and be more present. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better-connected family, banning screen time is more likely to result in family tension.

Technology plays a huge part in our lives today. It allows us to get important work done, maintain relationships with family members, make connections with new friends, and share our creations with the world. Asking your children to refrain from using devices during meals, talks, or family activities is fine. But don’t ban them altogether. 

Reach out

If you know other parents who will be taking care of their kids during spring break, don’t be afraid to reach out to them when you need to. Whether you need to vent, have your actions validated, or just ask for some advice, it’s always helpful to have someone in the same situation as you to talk to.

Be flexible

It’s a great idea to have a plan detailing what your week will look like. But you need to understand that not everything will go perfectly to plan.

Your child may get sick, one of their friends may cancel, dinner may get burned, or a change of weather might force you to make new arrangements. Whatever happens, it’s important to go with the flow and make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in.

Have alone time

While spring break is an excellent chance to spend time as a family, being around each other 24/7 for a full week is often too much. Schedule some time to be on your own and unwind.

It doesn’t matter whether you plan a night in front of the TV on your own halfway through spring break or if you take just 15 minutes out of every day to read, make time to be on your own.

Keep calm

When your house is a mess, your youngest is crying, your oldest is complaining, and your food delivery app has just crashed for no reason, it’s easy to get annoyed and lose your temper. Although it may be difficult, you need to remember that your children aren’t behaving the way they are to get a rise out of you. 

They’re not following their usual schedule and may be testing boundaries and rules as a result. There’s always a reason for unwanted behavior. Try and get to the root of it by calmly talking to them. If you have to step outside and take some deep breaths first, that’s fine.

Make this year different

Spring break doesn’t have to be full of stress. It can be a wonderful opportunity to spend some time as a family and break away from your regular routine. Find some time to plan ahead and you’ll soon discover that you start looking forward to spring break instead of getting anxious as soon as you think about it.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741