Living in Florida, I kind of dread spring break. My beloved beach, where I go running to unwind after a hard day of work, is out of bounds for the entire month of March. Partying spring-breakers lie on the sand, surf the waves and mingle in bars, while I look on, envying their carefree laughter and suntanned legs. Because as a working mom, my own kids’ spring break doesn’t translate into a vacation for me—it just means more work! Not only do I have to contend with editorial planning, writing deadlines and social media interaction, but I have to do it with three kiddos in the house. That also entails heightened levels of mom-guilt when one of them inevitably asks at some point, “What are we going to do today?” and all I can answer is: “I don’t know; I have to work!”
Of course I tell myself that I’m not a bad mother just because I can’t play Monopoly with them all day or take them to an amusement park instead of making a living. And naturally I remind myself how lucky I am to telecommute, as my kids can actually be with me while I work. But the flipside is that because I’m home, they can also tell me they’re hungry, moan about being bored and yell at one another, all within earshot. All this makes working during spring break a little more challenging than usual.
Other moms on social media have shared that they also stress about what to do with the kiddos during their vacation time since they also don’t have the luxury of taking time off.
Read Related: Is Being a Stay-at-Home Mom a Privilege or a Right?
Here are some suggestions for surviving your kids’ spring break:
- If you work in an office setting and can’t afford childcare, ask to telecommute for that week. Alternatively, find a group of working moms and each of you request to take a day off from work and care for your collective brood. If all fails, ask your spouse or ex-spouse to be the one to take time off or telecommute.
- If you can pony up the money, find a cool camp they could attend for the week. It will bring peace of mind to all involved and they will learn a new skill and perhaps make new friends.
- If you work from home and can’t splurge on day camp, then rearrange your schedule for the week. Instead of putting in my regular non-stop hours, I divide the day. What works for me is to let the kids watch TV or otherwise entertain themselves in the early morning while I toil away, and then we spend the middle of the day doing a fun family activity all together. While they unwind after dinner, I return to my computer until past midnight.
- Which brings me to: Let them watch TV! Allow them to indulge in electronics. As a former no-TV mom who would freak out if the babies so much as caught a glimpse of a commercial, I’ve had to ease up on this one. I now realize a little bit of TV never hurt anyone.
- Give them chores or activities to keep them busy while you do your thing. This can be more or less difficult depending on their age. Most kids seem to respond to a classroom setting, even at home. If I give them an activity with some instructions, they are more likely to stick to it than if I say, “Please play by yourselves for an hour.”
- When my kids were younger I’d plop them in a large indoor play yard so they would be safe, and I’d plant myself close by where I could see them, and type away at my laptop.
- Now that they’re older, I take them to the library or the bookstore and allow them to peruse books and nooks while I type away in a corner. It’s a win-win. If I don’t need an internet connection, then we hit the local park or playground and I write while they play.
- Explain to them what you’re doing. Let them know that just as Daddy goes to the office, you are working from home, and that what you do on your computer (or however you make your money) pays for the house you live in, the yummy treats they enjoy and the cool clothes they wear.
- Cut yourself some slack. Realize that while the kiddos are at home, you are most likely not going to be able to perform full throttle. And that’s okay. Plan to make up for it before and after spring break.
- Take some time off each day. Whether it’s one hour, or 15 minutes, spend it with your kids doing nothing other than being with them. Don’t Instagram the moment, Tweet about it or share it on Facebook. And don’t answer the phone, even if it’s your boss. You can call her back half an hour later.
Above all, remember it’s only one week, five working days. It will go by fast!