How to Make Spring Break Fun!
How To Make Spring Break Fun!
Ah, the two words that conjure up so many different thoughts. The first one, shared by most children, is Yes! Time off from school. The second one, shared by most parents is Wow, a week off from school. Followed immediately by What should we do all week? How can we make it a fun week?
I am the mom to three pretty great children. My middle child is 21 years old and has special needs. I sure have put in a great number of spring breaks; some were spent at home and others were out of town. So, I thought I would share with you some tips to help make planning your spring break a little easier. Hopefully, it will help make some great memories as well as fun filled time together.
This is a pretty important one for those who are thinking of traveling. From the questions of, “Where are we staying?” to “How are we getting there?” and even, “Do they have the right food for my child?” By sitting down early and taking a look at your destination (it doesn’t matter if it’s the beach, a state park or a cruise) you can get a list of questions together that will help you make the right decision for your family.
If your special needs child is like mine and hates the dark, we found getting her own individual room was well worth the price because she could put on the number of lights she needed to feel safe and we all did not have to feel like we were at Time’s Square when we were trying to sleep. Perhaps your child is on a special diet or there are physical needs of the child such as a wheelchair? These are the types of concerns that can be addressed and taken care of when you have time on your side. In fact, many cruise lines are more than happy to help meet the needs of your child. When you call, make sure to ask to speak to someone about them. This holds true for airlines as well. We just took our first flight last July and with time on our side, I called and spoke to someone about the offerings for a passenger with special needs. This conversation helped us to better help Elizabeth. We were allowed to board early, sit together and keep her anxiety in check. So start the conversation early!
Plan with Your Child… Kind Of
Something I learned very early on in our journey with Elizabeth is that while it is always way easier to plan things without involving everyone right away (and let’s face it, getting their input, opinions and moods), it is actually way more beneficial to share these plans as soon as possible with your child. This can allow them to see what is being planned, where they are headed and can allow for you to help them prepare. Planning like this can help them get ready for the break itself. Because routines can be so important to a special needs child that they may see spring break as anxiety producing just as much as others are already in their bathing suits holding boarding passes. Talking and planning are really crucial!
Stay-Cations Are Great
We have done a great number of these over the years and I have to say there is something pretty fun about having a full day of fun but being able to return home at the end of the day. Nicely tired, accomplished, and in our own beds. But what to do?
A great preat to start is by looking at nearby state parks. Hiking, picnicking or just being in nature in the spring is so refreshing. How about museums that are close to you? Some have children’s programs or hands-on exhibits that could make a fun morning or afternoon event. We had great success taking Elizabeth to a museum because they wanted you to touch things, and there was no pressure if she did not wish to do one thing because there were so many to pick from. Add a fun place to eat and you have yourselves a great day planned.
Related: Staycation Was the Ultimate Vacation
Something near to us is an art institute. They offer art classes during spring break based on ages. Taking one of these would be a nice creative way to spend some time. I made sure to call and ask about accommodations for Elizabeth and they were happy to let me stay.
Another fun thing we used to do was have what we termed an early park morning. Translated, this meant we got up early, dressed, picked up breakfast and went to the park to greet the day and play. It was so fun getting a jump on the day, as well as getting to play as long as we wanted. The kids would come home sun-filled and tired. My friend used to do a park hop day, which meant she took her kids to one park in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each park, after all, has it own “special thing”. What a treat it was to go to both in the same day.
Stay-Cation Inside Fun
Maybe the weather is not on your side during break (I say this from experience). We have had multiple Easter egg hunts in winter coats with some snow on the ground. So what can you do then?
Theme of the day: Pick an idea, color or focus, and make it the center of the day. You can, for example, make a “green day” where you eat green food, wear green clothes and do a green craft. How about making a cooking day? Elizabeth loved making cookies when she was young. Did she crack the eggs and stir? Not quite, but she scooped well and ate lots of chocolate chips while she did it. Whatever works for your family is what’s important, but do try to do something new each day so that it makes it a fun week inside.
Movie-a-thon: Raise your hand if sitting under a cozy blanket with your children sounds pretty great to you! Sitting down and making a stack of movies to watch, planning some fun snacks, and settling in can make for a great, snuggly spring break day. Truthfully, the weather could be great outside and a movie day could be the kind of down day your children need. So for whatever reason, enjoy the time together.
I had one friend who would book a room at a local motel to use for the day. The kids could swim indoors all day, have some fun snacks and feel like a vacation. But could be close to home.
Related: Got Pool Games?
I do know first hand how challenging new things can be to a child with special needs, so I know some ideas will fit well in your life but others, not so much. If you do plan on doing some of these things, I offer out you to use a schedule that all can see. This way everyone can know what is next. Talking about the week’s events often helps, too. And trust me, we talked a lot!
- Fun & Educational Things Kids Can Do During Their Spring Break
- How to Make Spring Break Fun!
- How to Help Your Child Manage Spring Fever
- How to Sneak In Physical Therapy on Vacation
- 10 Places That Offer Special Days for Special Needs
- Top 5 Children’s Museums That Are Fun for Everyone!
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2012 Magazine