Picture this: No alarm clocks. Warm temps. Sunshine (and maybe even some toes in the sand). Spring break is like hitting the pause button on the school year. And now, it is just a calendar page away and so is the chance to add to your family’s memory arsenal by planning an epic week. Whether it is by plane, train, or automobile, or even if it’s a staycation, preparation is key to having the best possible spring break experience.
So, what’s the starting point? Step one: Call a family meeting with the littles.
Brainstorm as a family
No matter how young your children are, they can be part of the planning. Find out what activities have been on their minds, and you may be surprised by the creativity. If you have a large family, it may be hard to fit everyone’s ideas into the week, so take a household vote or let the littles pick a few from a hat.
Once you have the suggestions narrowed down, craft your family’s bucket list. This activity will help build the anticipation of spring break, while also helping the grown-ups carve out a game plan. Some fun tools to include in the planning are maps, digital apps, and the library. Yes, learning does not have to stop just because it is a break, but it can be a more imaginative version of it.
Don’t break the bank
As much fun as spring break is meant to be, you don’t want to spend months paying off the festivities. A plan can help you estimate a budget and look for ways to cut costs. Depending on what you decide to do, check sites like Groupon for special discounts. Or, design your vacation around special offers. For instance, if an amusement park or a hotel is offering a lower rate, work that into your spring break strategy.
Anticipate the unexpected
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but if things can go wrong, then they likely will. Be prepared. Pack a kit with some key backup items, and that doesn’t just mean emergency-emergency things. Snacks, coloring books and crayons, and a few age-appropriate toys can help avoid some headaches when delays pop up.
Bloom co-owner Ashley J. says, “Don’t forget the hand sanitizer and baby wipes! Even if you don’t have a baby, they are good to wash hands and faces, clean up spills, clean tables, toilets, etc.”
Other must-have items in her travel kit are
Tylenol or Motrin
If traveling by air
Air transportation can be a very long process for small children (and adults, too). It may easily lead to impatience, meltdowns, and tantrums. Let’s be honest, though—it is completely understandable why anyone would get frustrated with traveling. There is nothing exciting about sitting around for long periods of time or being held up from the fun at the other end of that plane ride. However, there are some ways to limit issues:
- Bring games to keep everyone occupied.
- Take lots of potty breaks before boarding.
- Pack snacks that won’t get you in trouble with TSA.
- Download new apps on devices that fit your child’s interests.
- Don’t forget the gum to keep those ears popping. For babies, Ashley suggests feeding them a bottle at take-off and landing.
- Dress them in layers to keep up with fluctuating temperatures in the air.
Or by car
Bloom’s other half, Jayme W., suggests limiting nap time so the littles will sleep in the vehicle.
“I would try whatever possible to keep them awake as long as possible beforehand so they sleep a chunk of the travel time,” she explained.
For the oldest kids in your crew, technology is your friend. Charge devices ahead of time and limit their usage until you are on the road. Stock up on batteries for uninterrupted distractions. Keeping your children plugged in for hours may not be your usual policy, but drastic times call for some drastic measures.
And Jayme echoes her partner’s recommendations on packing plenty of snacks. She adds, “If their mouths are full, they can’t be as loud as they would be without.”
Spring break offers much-deserved downtime for the whole family. Whether it has been a busy school year of homework and sports, or your work schedule has been jam-packed since the holidays, the week of spring break coincides with generous weather conditions that tease what’s to come in the summer. By designing a plan with input from all the littles—big and small—every member of your household will look forward to quality time together. Anticipate your children’s needs ahead of time and craft a plan that helps you avoid hiccups so that the break becomes a smile-inducing memory in the future.