March Break can be the best of times, or—depending on what’s going on in your life right now—it can be the worst of times.
If you can clear the deck and schedule a week of round-the-clock fun, March Break can deliver a much-needed psychological boost en route to spring.
But if your bank account is looking decidedly empty and your calendar is overflowing with conflicting obligations, March Break is more likely to be a source of stress than celebration.
I’ve lived the March Break dream, and I’ve lived the March Break nightmare.
There were years when I couldn’t wait for this late-winter break to roll around, if only because it meant a break from the weekday morning insanity. I was desperate for a reprieve from the daily grind of making lunches, tracking down gym clothes and library books, and hustling kids off to the bus stop on time.
And there were other years when just the thought of the kids having an entire week off left me feeling completely overwhelmed. How was I going to keep all four kids happy and entertained for an entire week when the weather was iffy, my husband was working the night shift, and I was on deadline on a magazine article?
If you’re dreading (rather than delighting in) the pending arrival of the March Break, you may be feeling a little guilty. Shouldn’t you be looking forward to spending all this quality time with your kids? Perhaps, in a perfect world (a world in which all parents are highly energetic and infinitely patient), but that’s not the world we live in. You’re human—and, like all humans, there are times when you hit the proverbial brick wall.
The good news is that you’re not alone. A lot of other parents are scrambling to make March Break work for themselves and for their kids. And you can halve the workload and double the fun by joining forces with another family. Plan joint outings. Organize a childcare swap. Make meals together.
You’ll also find it helpful to remind yourself that you don’t have to burn yourself out playing entertainment director for your kids. If you allow them to experience a healthy amount of boredom, they’ll quickly figure out ways to make their own fun, whether it’s pulling out a board game or digging through the craft cupboard in search of creative inspiration, or making the last snowman of winter.
And here’s one final piece of advice, as you get psyched for that marathon parenting event known as the March Break: it’s important to take time for yourself, too. Whether it’s firing up a workout video on the computer while the kids are happy and occupied, or curling up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea, it’s important to take mini-timeouts to replenish yourself during what is likely to be a fun-filled yet somewhat exhausting week.
Self-care is in; mommy martyrdom is out. Make that your March Break mantra.
See you on the other side.