A young boy, wearing a scuba diving outfit, throws his arms up happily at the beach

Spring Break Tips for Working Parents

I have fond memories of spring break trips as a child, usually spent at my grandparents’ house in Florida. They had a pool in the backyard (with a diving board for back flips) and the beach and Disney World were both close enough for day trips. The hard part was enduring the 10+ hour drive there, although as a mother myself now, I suspect the drive was more difficult on my mom. She had to deal with sibling squabbles in the backseat and that one year when it was just the two of us and I read Sweet Valley Saga the entire ride without so much as speaking “hello” to her. But once we arrived, the fun began!

Now that I have two children of my own, I want to create similar childhood memories for them, and spring break provides the perfect opportunity. But as a working mom, planning a spring break trip can feel like a daunting task. You may have to make sure that you’ve saved up enough vacation time, ensure your work will be covered while you’re away, and then actually plan the trip. And there’s the issue of money – vacations are expensive! But don’t let these obstacles stand in your way. With a little effort and the tips below, your family will be on their way to memory lane in no time!

  1. When planning your spring break itinerary, be sure to consider the age of your child. While your son might love “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” on television, the sight of a life-size Mickey might cause extreme fear and screams for the safety of mommy’s arms (as I experienced this weekend). So a trip to Orlando might not be a good fit this year. But a trip to the beach, preferably without any long flights of stairs and within walking distance to a crib for naptime, might be just the thing. Also remember that the trip is just as much for your children as it is for you, so make sure there is access to child-friendly activities!
  2. Do your children do well in long car rides or will everyone be in tears before you leave the neighborhood? If you typically deal with the latter, consider picking a location within a few hours of home, or leave right at bedtime so the little ones will sleep in the car.
  3. Join forces with other parents for a group vacation. Trips can be great, but gone are the days of sleeping in and lazing on the beach all day. Having an extra set of hands is always a good idea and your child will love having a playmate along. Bonus: You can stay in and hold a game night after the children are asleep, or take turns babysitting so each couple gets a night out on the town!
  4. Save on hotel costs by visiting relatives. Grandparents can be a great option for a spring break trip. Your children will love the special attention only grandparents can give them, and you might be able to get a little “me-time” in with the extra help! A trip to grandma’s house is even better if your siblings can come at the same time so the cousins can play together!
  5. Plan a stay-cation if money is tight, or if you’re just not up for a trip! Hotels, gas (or airline tickets), eating out and all the vacation extras can add up fast. But remember that your children don’t care about how much money you’re spending, they care about spending time with you! A stay-cation can also be a great option if you have an infant or toddler who may not sleep well in new places. You get all of the comforts of home (because you are home!), but you’re on vacation – so go check out all the local attractions you’ve been meaning to visit. Stay in your pajamas all day and watch movies and order pizza. Invite friends over for blanket-fort building in your living room. Get creative! Just remember to turn your out-of-office reply on, turn your ringer off, and really leave work and your normal routine behind for the week. Enjoy your children and it won’t matter where you are!

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