My 12-year-old daughter came from school and announced that she was the ONLY one staying home for spring break this year. She went on to tell me how bored she would be, how lucky her friends were and how she would be stuck at home doing NOTHING. Poor girl!
Contrary to what your teens and tweens think, not everyone goes on a spring break vacation. Finances, parents' vacation time and recent holiday travel are some of the reasons that a second vacation is not possible. In order to keep your teen or tween from driving you crazy, plan a week's worth of activities that you can do around your own town. Enjoy a fun and relaxing week at home with a different theme for each day.
Pajama Day - Most teens are exhausted by their constant on-the-go lifestyle. What they really need is a day off. Homework, extracurricular activities, social plans and family obligations leave little time to just hang out. Reserve a day with no agenda. Let your child sleep in. Encourage a day of lounging on the couch in pajamas. Buy easy self-serve meals and use disposable plates. Spend the day recharging for the week ahead.
Volunteer Day - Now that your teen or tween is well rested, start your staycation by helping others. Preplan a day of volunteerism and spend the day with those in need. Start with a morning at the homeless shelter preparing breakfast or cleaning up from overnight. Move on to walking dogs at the animal shelter in the afternoon or play board games with the residents at an assisted living home. Your choice of volunteering does not have to be limited to an organization. Plan to help an older neighbor clean out their garage or babysit for a new mom who can use another pair of hands.
Adventure Day - Plan to do something you have never done before. Enroll your teen in an adventure day camp in your area to try surfing, kayaking or scuba diving. Looking for an indoor activity? Check out your local sports complex to try a new sport, go rock climbing or take diving lessons. For less sporty teens, try a theater camp, cooking class or singing at an open mic night. Encourage your kids to try something new - even if it scares them a little. You are building their confidence for the next adventures in their lives.
Party Day - Have an Unbirthday Party like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. Invite all your teen's friends who are home for spring break. Plan something as simple as a gathering place for multiple friends to hang out. Order pizza, plug in the iPod and shut the basement door. Consider including some the parents to stay and have a drink with you. Socializing with other parents is a great opportunity for you to get to know your children's friends better.
See the Local Sights Day - There are probably a few spots in your hometown that you have never been to before. Get suggestions from your friends and neighbors. Visit your town's website for tourist attractions as if you were visiting for the first time. Check out your local historical society, a museum or a store that you have never gone into. Take your camera along and snap silly pictures of your family visiting the sights. Share with friends on Instagram.
Today's the Day - How many times has your tween asked if they could do something and your answer is "Maybe another time"? Well, today's the day! Go to the pet store and take out a puppy to play with. Take your teen to the mall to get her ears double pierced. Stop for ice cream before dinner and spoil your appetites. Let your kids have a sleepover and stay up as late as they want. Show your kids that they cannot always predict what their parents' answer will be.
Ticket Day - End your week on a good note. Get tickets to an event your tween or teen would love. Whether it is a concert, a theater performance or a sporting event, you can find something to do that your child will always remember. Better yet, they will have something to share at the lunch table when the vacationers ask what they did over spring break.
Make a Family Date Night
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and the mother of two teens and a tween. Much to their disappointment, they are both staying home for spring break this year.