It’s that time of year again where the kids get a spring break from school in time to enjoy the warmer temperatures. This time of relaxation can also bring challenges and stress to parents juggling work and securing childcare over the break, an expert says.
“Working parents, especially, have to make plans for childcare,” said Brittney Schrick, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture family life specialist. “Not all parents have the ability to take off an entire week — or any time at all — with their school-age children, so there is often an added expense for these families to pay a daycare center or baby sitter. For many families, this can be a struggle that causes dread for spring break rather than excitement.”
Schrick suggests getting creative with childcare. Enlist the help of grandparents or other relatives to help. Consider sharing a baby sitter with another family and split the cost.
Another hurdle for parents is the idea that they have to plan activities to entertain their children every second of spring break — an idea that leaves both parent and child exhausted, Schrick said.
“Avoid the entertainment trap. It is not your job as a parent to constantly entertain your child. They need to have time and space to create and be innovative. They can only reach this point if they are allowed to be bored. Being bored is good. Even if you are home with your child, resist the temptation to engage them at all times,” she said.
Schrick also warned parents to resist the urge to overspend.
“Having the kids at home can often lead to unintended spending. Children ask to go shopping. You order food or take them out to eat. They beg to go do something that costs more than anticipated. Set a budget for the week and stick to it,” Schrick said.
However, that isn’t to say there is no room to plan some activities, just keep in mind your budget and reserving ample time to recharge before school starts up again.
“If you decide to plan some activities, think outside the box,” Schrick said.
Joe David Rice, Arkansas Department of Tourism director of tourism, suggests checking out one of Arkansas’ 52 state parks, most of which are largely free. Or, visit a neighboring town to see what it has to offer.
“Walk around Hot Springs and look at the old bathhouses…or downtown Eureka Springs and enjoy the architecture,” Rice said.
Another option to consider is agritourism activities like farmers markets.
Stacey McCullough, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture assistant director of community and economic development, said agritourism activities often have things to do specifically for kids and provide a unique learning opportunity to learn more about where the food we eat comes from.
“It really gives you an opportunity to make a connection between where our food is grown and where we get it,” McCullough said. “Our milk isn’t just from the store, it comes from a cow.”
For more tips, see Schrick’s Family Life Friday blog at https://www.uaex.edu/health-living/personal-family-well-being/family-life-fridays-blog/default.aspx.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.
— Emily Thompson is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.