For many schools around the country, spring break is coming up soon. To your children, this is a welcome chance to sleep in and spend the day having fun. To parents, spring break can be stressful, whether due to re-arranging schedules, setting up playdates for younger children or worrying about older teens off on trips. This week’s Parenting Tip is about helping manage stress during spring break and finding fun new ways to bond with your children.
Making the Most of Spring Break
It’s hard for kids not to get excited about Spring Break, whether they’re older teens taking a trip with friends or younger kids who just want time away from the classroom. For parents, this excitement can add a new level of stress to your already busy day. The negative effects of stress on parents are well documented. Here are some tips to help you not only survive Spring Break, but make the most out of it for both you and your children.
Tips for Families Staying Home
Staying home with your kids? Make Spring Break fun, educational, and most importantly stress-free with these ideas:
- Make a plan! School-aged children are used to routine, so help make spring break more manageable by planning out some activities that you can do with your children. Some ideas include taking your family to a local library and selecting two books to be read during break, or visiting a nearby museum or science discovery center. Whatever you choose, be sure to include your children in the planning and find out what they want to do.
- Connect with neighbors. Meet up with friends and neighbors to formalize a game of tag at a park or set up a group playdate with neighborhood families in your back yard. Not only does this give your children structured ways to spend their fun time, but helps build connections among families in the community.
- Lean on family and friends if you don’t have time off. Spring break presents a unique challenge for working parents. If you’re unable to take time off from work, make use of family members and friends in your neighborhood that can watch your children while you’re at work. Situations like this are an example of why building connections in the neighborhood can be so important, not only for you but for other parents who might not have family or close friends nearby.
- Take care of yourself! The extra stress of spring break can wear you down, so make sure you budget time for yourself. One date night or night out can make the difference between a manageable spring break and a crazy one. Ensure you have the time you need to yourself in order decompress and destress.
Tips for Teens Going on a Trip
For those older teens who will be leaving home to head to sunny beaches and warm weather, spring break can present a different kind of stress. Whether your teen is travelling as part of an alternative spring break group or with a chaperoned group of friends, here are some tips to help keep stress lower and keep you at ease:
- Talk with your teen about your concerns. Whether you’re worried about something innocuous like safety in the sun or something more serious like peer pressure related to drugs and alcohol, the most important thing you can to do is talk to your teen. Let them know you are always there to help, regardless of the situation. For other ideas on how to broach these subjects with your teen, check out the advice from Dr. Janet Rosenzweig.
- Know the itinerary. Make sure you get the plan in advance! Even if the plan is as basic as “lay by the pool all day,” have a handle on where your teen will be and who they will be with. Simply knowing what’s going on can help you feel more in control of the situation, even from afar.
- See what the experts recommend! Many authoritative sources have published healthy and safety tips that you can use in your conversation with your teen. Check out the comprehensive information from the Centers for Disease Control when planning a conversation with your teen.
How will you spend your spring break? Let us know by tweeting us @PCAAmerica or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page!