Almost everyone looks forward to spring break! For those who have a trip planned, the impatience and excitement are probably palpable. But, if you’re not going out of town, you might be anxious about the idea of planning fun activities for your “staycation.”
In this day and age, frugal, fun and free entertainment for your children for an entire week is not always easy to find. You probably already know your way around the area, so you won’t be stressed about spending a lot of money. And, there really are a lot of things for a family to do that cost next to nothing.
For starters, pull the family together and brainstorm ideas for your break. If your children are old enough, let them figure out all of the things they can do within your budget. This could be a great life lesson (you don’t have to tell them that) about getting to do a lot of things that cost a little money or one big thing that blows the entire wad.
If they think they’ve already done everything there is to do nearby, you might suggest a few tried and true fun things to do such as:
A photo scavenger hunt. Come up with a list of things they have to find or do, and take pictures to document their find. Since there are no more phone booths to stuff into, you’ll have to get creative about what you ask them to do. Pinterest can help you with that.
Make kites. You can find everything you need at a craft store.
Build a fort in your family room. This is great for a rainy day. Grab blankets and sheets and throw them over furniture, card tables, chairs, etc., to build your fort. Have a picnic inside the fort when you finish.
Make playdough or goo. It’s easy to make and everybody loves the stuff! (At least the kids do…)
Go camping in the backyard. If you don’t own a tent, borrow one and have a camp out in the backyard complete with S’mores.
Pack a picnic and head out for the day. There are plenty of great parks in the area. Pack your quilt, Frisbee, Whiffle ball and bat, and enjoy a relaxing day at the park.
Build an obstacle course in the backyard or through the house. Let the kids build it and time you as you go through it.
Volunteer somewhere as a family. Find someone in your community who could use some assistance with their yard or planting a garden.
Just hang out. There’s nothing wrong with hanging out at the house for spring break. You aren’t a bad parent if every minute of the week isn’t scheduled. It’s actually good for children to have unscheduled time where they have to figure out how to entertain themselves.
Keep a journal together and take pictures throughout your week. Then, put it all together in a picture collage or scrapbook. It will help you remember the memories you create and it makes for great stories around the dinner table.
If you have teens or college-age young adults, you’ve probably had (or soon will have) ongoing conversations about how they’ll spend their break.
As kids try to get permission (and money!) for the trip, you’ll hear phrases like:
“I’m almost an adult. This is a rite of passage.” Or, “It’s what college students do. We go to the beach and hang out.”
The pressure is on for sure. But before you give in…
Here’s what research shows about spring break safety issues:
The average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day, compared to 10 drinks for the average female.
Of 783 young people surveyed, more than 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they drank until they became sick or passed out at least once.
The U.S. State Department’s “Spring Break in Cancun” says that alcohol is involved in most arrests, accidents, violent crimes and deaths suffered by American tourists there.
This is a major issue on some Florida beaches, so places like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach police departments have taken precautionary measures to avoid problems. These cities have already posted open letters on Facebook to spring breakers.
“We have said it before, but just so we are clear… if your top priorities when visiting the beach are being drunk and disorderly; breaking what you consider to be small rules like underage drinking, littering and leaving glass on the beach, urinating in public, using drugs, or engaging in violent or indecent behavior, Gulf Shores is definitely not the place for you.”
Risk-taking peaks during adolescence.
Instead of weighing risks based on logic and wisdom, teens are usually more concerned about how their choices will impact their peer relationships. They see being unaccepted relationally as a threat.
While a teen might usually make good choices, science shows that adding friends to the mix changes things. It makes them more likely to take risks for the reward of acceptance instead of considering the cost. The presence of other spring breakers can make it seem like the rewards of risk outweigh any consequences.
If your goal is for your spring breaker to be safe, consider these things:
Even if they don’t like the idea, you may decide to go along if you feel they aren’t ready to fly solo. You don’t have to constantly hover, but checking in regularly with an adult can decrease the potential for poor decision-making.
Help unsupervised teens and young adults prepare well. Discuss their plans and where they are staying. Establish clear expectations about everything from social media and location check-in to communicating with you by phone at designated times.
Address the dangers of underage drinking, meeting up with strangers and the potential consequences (legal and otherwise) for poor choices. They also need to know how to protect themselves from sexual assault, date rape, drugs and the like.
Ultimately, the goal is to keep people safe over spring break. We all know that one irresponsible decision or crazy social post can change someone’s life. (Check out How to Talk to Your Teen About Drinking.)
Most of us would probably agree: It’s better to leave no stone unturned than to wish we had said something. Don’t be afraid to be “that parent.” You know, the one who encourages new experiences, knowing that a strong foundation can help them make the most of their opportunities.