If there’s one thing working parents know, it’s that just because your child’s school goes on break, it doesn’t mean you can take a week of vacation time. But even if you’re stuck at the office, with a little planning, it’s possible to make your kids’ spring break memorable (and maybe a little magical)—theme park optional. Choose one of the options below or mix and match a few of these ideas to keep your kids happy and occupied this spring break.
1. Spend quality time with relatives.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family can be the key to solving the working parent’s spring break dilemma. And, because spring break schedules are known well in advance, it’s possible to plan out this option with far-flung family. Whether your child’s favorite uncle is coming to you or you’re sending the kids a few states away for a mini-vacation with grandma, close relatives are often more than happy to step in for a few days and entertain the kiddos.
2. Check out local day camps.
Day camps have come a long way, and now many businesses and park district programs have wised up to parent’s need for spring break childcare coverage. Similar to summer camps, in many areas you can now find a spring camp for your kid that fits almost any area of interest. From sports to art to theatre to STEM to more traditional recreational camps, many offer half and full day options, before and aftercare programs, and the flexibility to sign up for anywhere from one day to a full week. Start looking for camps near you about a month or so before spring break begins.
3. Let your kids “staycation” with their favorite sitter.
Just because you can’t staycation with your kids, doesn’t mean the sitter can’t. Like with relatives, begin planning this option as far in advance as possible so that you know your sitter’s availability. Give your sitter some tips and ideas about fun happenings around town where the kids can enjoy something a little special during break. Consider having them visit museums, go on nature hikes and scavenger hunts, or spend a day at an indoor waterpark.
4. Take a mini-break.
If mom and dad can’t take the whole week off work, maybe a day of PTO on the Monday or Friday of spring break is a possibility—giving you an extended weekend with the kids to bookend their break. Make it a mini-vacation: Find a destination a few hours from your home that you can explore for day trip or overnight adventure. Consider letting the kids pick the destination or play a role in planning the activities.
5. Make mornings and evenings extra special.
Even if short vacations aren’t possible, you can make spring break special by mixing up normal morning and evening routines with the kids. Spread an old blanket on the living room floor and enjoy a picnic dinner. Plan a family movie or game night on Tuesday. Make a big breakfast feast one morning before you head off to work.
6. Let your kids visit you at work.
So maybe it isn’t the official “bring your child to work” day, but most coworkers don’t mind a drop-in from the kiddos every now and then. And young kids are always excited to see where mommy and daddy spend their days. Show them around your workspace, introduce them to colleagues and highlight the cool stuff you do all day (remember: cool for a kid might be your stocked office supply closet). If time allows, make the most of their visit and take your kids for a long lunch at your favorite eatery.