Ahhhh…spring break. That glorious week we used to look forward to with such excitement. As kids, it was a whole week off from school. And in college, it was even better. It was a chance to go somewhere in Florida other than Disney. It was a beautifully uninhibited week of sleeping late, friends, parties, and general laziness. It was the perfect little halt in routine that we needed to get us through the rest of the semester until we had a full summer to do a half-hearted internship and return to all of the activities listed above.
Then we had kids. Suddenly, calling something that requires us to entertain a houseful of children for a week a “break,” seems not only misleading, but downright dishonest. The fact is, spring break can cause panic in even the most stalwart of parents, especially considering most of us have only just barely recovered from the horrors of winter “break.”
Far from the college days of surf, sun, and endless fun, spring break with kids takes on a whole new look.
One week out from spring break in college:
Realize that spring break is, quite literally, in seven days. Frantically start looking for bikinis, sunscreen, and cute outfits. Ask mom and dad for money.
One week out from spring break with kids:
Realize that spring break is, quite literally, in seven days. Frantically start looking for day camps and/or cheap travel locations in the hopes that you can keep the kids from their favorite fallback activity of mixed martial arts fighting in the living room while the soundtrack from Moana blares in the background. Realize that the budget does not allow for camps or travel, but do it anyway and promise yourself you’ll just cut back in the summer.
Day before spring break in college:
Pack bikinis, cute outfits, and mom and dad’s money. Fill a beach bag with books you’re actually going to read and then add some SPF 4 tanning oil while ignoring the irony.
Day before spring break with kids:
If traveling, pack clothes for kids, husband, and self at midnight. Remember that you still have laundry in the dryer. Realize that you forgot to dry it, so rewash and dry before removing it only to discover that the items you needed from this particular load are still in the dirty clothes hamper. Finish packing anyway. Forget to pack your underwear, a top for your one tankini that actually fits, and all of the toothbrushes. Fill a beach bag with SPF 100 and 73 swim diapers.
If staying home, frantically search the house for all craft supplies, board games, and educational activities available. Fill yourself with false optimism regarding the upcoming use of these items.
Day one of spring break in college:
Turn off all alarms, sleep in, awake refreshed and ready to tackle the day of fun that lies ahead.
Day one of spring break with kids:
Turn off all alarms in the hopes of sleeping in. Remember that kids don’t sleep in unless it’s a school day. Awaken at 6am to the sounds of a heated argument at your bedside regarding the actual existence of wizards, followed by a demand for Cheerios. This applies to both vacations and stay-cations.
10:30am on the first day of spring break in college:
Nothing. You’re still asleep.
10:30am on the first day of spring break with kids:
Explain to kids that they just had two snacks, so no, it is NOT time for lunch. Clean glitter out of the carpet.
Day three of spring break in college:
Continue having fun. That’s all.
Day three of spring break with kids:
Go to the park for the second time that day. Question all of your life choices.
Last day of spring break in college:
Stare admiringly at your now tanned and glowing skin. Have your suitcase packed in 10 minutes because….well, because you only have yourself to look after.
Last day of spring break with kids:
Stare forlornly at the disaster that is your house/hotel room. Wonder if you will ever sleep a full night again. Think with dread about the coming week.
Stop and look at the fantastically tired, but happy children crashed out on the couch beside you. Take a moment to breathe them in, even if they do smell a bit like Cheetos and Elmer’s glue. Remember that they are growing up so fast, and before you know it, they’ll be off on their own college spring break. Realize that even if spring break makes you lose your mind, what you’re gaining in memories, stories, and love more than makes up for it.
You’ve heard it since the moment you announced your first pregnancy – don’t blink, because it all goes by so fast. And it does. One moment you’re holding an infant in your arms and the next, you’re holding a credit card receipt for your college student’s hotel room in Daytona Beach and trying not to worry yourself into a state of blind panic.
So no matter how tired you are, no matter how hard it is to get glitter out of the carpet, and no matter how many times you have to break up arguments about mythical beings, just know that like all things in life, spring break, too, shall pass. Make the most of it. After all, who needs a full night’s sleep anyway?