We aren’t ones to go away on March Break. It’s a busy time at work for my husband, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, I always seem to be staring down a bunch of deadlines in the middle of March, this year being no exception.
Now that my older kids are big enough to coordinate their own plans, I don’t worry too much about keeping them busy on their week off. However, it hasn’t always been like that, and there were a few years where I panicked at the thought of trying to work from home with young kids underfoot for an entire week. My solution was to create a spring break advent calendar of sorts, and here’s how it worked:
- To start, I made a list of ideas of things the boys could do on March break that would seem special (snow tubing, a ceramics class, seeing a play, going to Chinatown, etc.). Then, I penciled those outings into my calendar so I could work around them.
- Next, I made a list of other fun things they could do at home without my supervision. The activities included such things as: playing a board game, watching a movie, baking cookies, playing hockey in the driveway, building a fort, etc.). I scheduled those activities into my calendar around the times when I knew I would need to get some work done.
- Following all of that, I came up with an itinerary for each day that they were home (weekends excluded) and scheduled their day from 9 am-8 pm. It sounds a little over-the-top, but it was the only way I could make sure the boys had some extra-special fun while also being kept busy when I needed to work.
- I put each day’s agenda in a sealed envelope and presented it to the boys each morning when they woke up. They were SO excited to come downstairs and find out their plan for the day, and somehow seeing it all written down into specific blocks of time made even the most mundane activity seem exciting. I think the secret to them enjoying this so much is that the ordinary, routine tasks like getting dressed even had an element of fun attached to them, without any extra work on my part (see below for examples).
Here’s a sample of what one of our days looked like:
9:00 – 10 am: Eat breakfast in front of the TV while watching not one, but two, of your favourite shows!
10:00 – 10:30 am: Get dressed. The colour of the day is green so find something to wear that matches our theme.
10:30 – 4:30 pm: Snow tubing and lunch with friends.
4:30 – 5:00 pm: Bubble bath time!
5:00 – 6:00 pm: Time to make dinner together. Find three ingredients in the fridge that go with our colour theme for the day (we made pizza with spinach and basil and served it with a side of Caesar salad).
6:00 – 8:00 pm: Movie time!
8:00 – 9:00 pm: Let’s play a board game before bed (this was usually accompanied by a special snack like hot chocolate or a bowl of ice cream).
For some reason, there’s something so luxurious about having a bath at an unscheduled time of day. It no longer feels like something that HAS to be done, and instead is a task that becomes very fun, so I penciled it into the day when they weren’t expecting it. When it came to choosing a movie, I had a jar filled with mom-approved movie titles and they took turns picking from it throughout the week. This was my simple solution to the inevitable battles they would have over which movie to watch.
Even eating breakfast in front of the TV made breakfast seem extra special because they were never allowed to eat it anywhere other than the table. Oh, and another note about breakfast that week: nothing filled them with as much excitement when I allowed them to pick out whatever cereal they wanted at the grocery store. Sometimes it really is the simple things that bring the most happiness.
Tell us, how are you keeping your kids entertained this March Break?