With Spring Break upon us, or for some, around the corner, we asked Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Child Life Director Thomas Hobson to offer his thoughts on how to help your child have a healthy, happy break. 

Kids running out of schoolDepending on where your child goes to school, they may soon be out for Spring Break. The first day of the break is an exciting time. It seems like anything is possible. There are tons of fun things to see and do.  If you look closely, you might even see a little magic in the air.

I’d predict that on about the third day a child is out of school, the magic wears off.  It’s almost like clockwork; you can begin to see it on the night of the second day.  In a take off of the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “kids out of school, like fish, begin to stink after three days.”

Depending on their age, your child may be up all night and sleeping until the afternoon or they could be constantly telling you that they’re bored. It’s at this point that tempers start to flair, and dreams turn from Norman Rockwell to those of Dante Alighieri. So, why does this happen? There are lots of reasons: changes in or elimination of normal routines, increased stress and many others.

However, with some advance planning, you and your family can make it through the Spring Break in one piece.  Here are some hints to help ease the stress:

  • Routines:  Keep some routines sacred, especially bedtime and naptime.  This will help provide grounding in normalcy. It is easy to forget just how scheduled childhood can be, and how much comfort that schedule can provide. By maintaining certain routines, it helps your child ease back into school after one short week.
  • Have a plan: Each day have a series of errands, events, activities and chores for your child and family to do. This helps to eliminate the “I’m bored” comments. Children may complain about parts of it, but chances are they would do that any way.
  • Plan together: Involve your child in creating the plan. What things would they like to do? By including them, they feel part of the process and will be more willing for a give and take.
  • Flexibility: A plan is a great thing, but sometimes the situation changes. Change is okay, just roll with it as best you can.  You’ll be surprised what exciting things come from it.
  • Talk about behavior expectations in advance: Going into Spring Break, have a discussion about what you expect out of your child. This may include continuing typical responsibilities, maintaining school work, reading, and, perhaps, finding some time that they entertain themselves. This will help your child have a better idea of what they should do. If it helps, include when certain responsibilities are due in your planning.