The Kids Are Alright
How a low key spring break can still be a lot of fun
With all that kids have missed out on over the last year, there can be some self-imposed pressure to make spring break 2021 extra special. But with Covid cases rising again, there are some, like myself, who aren’t yet ready to travel out of state. That doesn’t mean spring break can’t still be fun and memorable. With just a bit of planning, a staycation can be a huge hit with the kids as well as create some long-lasting memories. Here are some tips to make the most of your kids’ time off school.
Pick a theme:
Themes give you something to build activities around and adds a splash of excitement. Last spring break involved a different theme every day: hiking, indoor camping, games day, etc. This year I chose one theme for the week, mystery, and planned a related activity for each day.
Activities Don’t Have to Break the Bank
Most days our activities were under $25 or even free. For spring break 2020’s game day, each of my three kids got to pick a board or card game of their choice for us to play during the day. I also scattered in some family favorites like relay races and nerf gun target practice. And we ended the evening with a lip-sync contest. We still pull up the videos of my youngest singing “Everything Is Awesome” and my son’s rendition of “Baby Shark” for laughs. But my husband’s interpretation of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” was the hands-down winner. A great time was had by all and we didn’t spend a dime. This year, one of our mystery days involved geocaching. I downloaded the free app and the kids and I found three caches while biking along a local trail. My kids have never been so happy while putting in some serious miles.
Not Every Day Needs to Be a Big Day
Filling every minute of a week-long break would be exhausting for me and probably even overwhelming for the kids. Some days, I just planned an hour or two of the day and left the remaining hours open for the kids to relax and do what they wanted. Last year, we had an art day that consisted of me printing off two activities from the internet and setting out the materials. After about an hour, the kids showed me their interpretation of Picasso’s stick figure The Old Guitarist using construction paper and glue, and Monet’s Waterlilies using washable paint on parchment paper. And the rest of the day was free play. For mystery week, I planned two days where we played a board game in the afternoon and watched a related movie at night: one day was the Clue game and movie, the other day we played 221b Baker Street and watched “Young Sherlock Holmes.”
It’s Fun to Go Out with a Bang
While you don’t have to knock it out of the park every day, it’s fun to hold the best activity for last. Given that we were under lockdown last year, our big activity was indoor camping. During the afternoon, the kids built a tent in our basement big enough to hold all of our sleeping bags. That evening, we made oven s’mores and watched a movie in the tent before all falling asleep in it. Sure it wasn’t a very restful night’s sleep, but it was a fun one. This year, we felt comfortable enough to rent an Airbnb on a farm a few hours away. I kept the getaway a secret from everyone including my husband to add the mystery element. So it was a complete surprise when we pulled up to a horse farm on the Mississippi River where the kids were able to take pony rides and feed the pet pig. They are already begging to go back.
After saying goodbye to the farm, we took a walk around the town of Galena before heading back home. The terrain in western Illinois is quite a lot hillier than what the kids are used to in Chicago and they kept begging to walk up the hills and then run down them with abandon. As my husband watched our three run down a medium-sized hill in Grant Park for the third time, giggling all the way, he asked why we ever spent money on Disney World vacations. His observation really hit home. While big trips are certainly fun once in a while, the kids are alright as long as we’re all having fun together as a family.