I recently was asked to speak on CBC Ontario Morning with Wei Chen about what I do with my kids during March Break. The producer and I laughed as we talked about the struggles of keeping everyone happy, especially the parents.
March Break has changed and evolved as my kids are getting older.
It has also changed now that I’m self employed. When I worked for a company, getting the time off wasn’t always guaranteed, and when you work for yourself, taking time off to be with the kids means you aren’t making any money.
My kids taking in the Ontario Science Centre
Money is usually one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to March Break. If you have loads of it (or have budgeted for it), you can plan a vacation or day trips every day. Maybe you can put your kids in camp, but if money isn’t flowing like the Nile, you have to be a bit more strategic about how to fill the time. Here’s some ideas that have worked for my family.
KIDS NEED THE BREAK: Remember this when you’re planing. The beauty of a break is breaking free from the monotony of the school schedule. Sleeping in a bit longer, staying in your PJ’s a bit longer (or all day) staying up to watch to a family movie. All of this is valuable and just as important and valuable as a “vacation” or day trip. Don’t over schedule them or yourself, TAKE A BREAK.
My kids don’t get pop EVER, so simple things like this are a big deal!
PLAN AHEAD: I know it’s a bit late for this advice, but it applies to all breaks, summer vacation or PA Days. We all know March Break happens every year so start thinking about it around January so you aren’t scrambling (i have ideas below for the scrambler too;). This year I connected with my cousins who have kids the same age in January to make March Break plans. Our plan is also helpful for the kids, it helps them get through the rough month of February because we have something to look forward to.
THE LIBRARY: The library is amazing. We easily chew up a few hours at ours. The kids can play and read and hang out. The books they check out also help pass the time while they’re at home!
THE DOLLAR STORE: A couple years ago, I was the scrambler. I woke up on the Monday of March Break and realized we didn’t have any plans. I gave each kid $5 and we headed to the dollar store. They got to pick out whatever they wanted. One of them picked crafts, one of them picked a toy and one of them picked a colouring book. It chewed up a WHOLE day;)
GET OUTSIDE: If the weather permits it get out there. Go to a park, pack a picnic, collect leaves, visit a maple farm and see the sap flowing. We have friends with farms, taking the kids to see the animals and life on the farm is a really great day out.
PUBLIC SWIMMING: When my kids were smaller and toddlers, I used to put their bathing suits on and let them play in the tub for hours!. Give them kitchen toys to play with like a strainer and swap out the toys as they tire of them. Public swim for the older kids is great because it’s like they are at a hotel!
COOKING: If you can handle the mess, let them in there (teach them to CLEAN UP!) Now that my kids are getting older, I’m giving them more and more responsibility. It’s great for me, but it’s incredible for them because it’s such a boost to their confidence. Cake mixes are awesome, because they can follow the instructions, measure and decorate it (or cupcakes!).
CARDS/BOARD GAMES: Some of my best memories as a kid are playing cards with my grandma or monopoly with my cousins. Board games and cards are super fun, and the kids LOVE beating me and my husband.
Battleship is super fun, except I always lose!
CHECK YOUR COMMUNITY CALENDAR: Most public places, like the mall have activities for the kids. They know the kids are off, so they’ve done a lot of the hard work for you!
One of the questions the producer asked me was how do I make all the kids happy with all the different ages and stages. I said that’s parenting. My tween may not like what my boys do but the idea is that everyone gets a turn to do something they like. The other easy answer is to connect with other parents who have kids the same age as yours, so they can break off and do what they want.
Whatever you do this March Break, I hope you are safe and make lots of memories!
HERE IS THE PODCAST (I’m on at 35:00)