In Her Words
Spring Break’s No Break for the Staycationing Mom
Lessons learned while not vacationing
We’ve never been a family to jet off to Florida or another sun-drenched destination during spring break. Why fight the crowds and spend all that money when we can enjoy some good old family bonding right here in the comforts of our own town staycationing? And usually, our weather in Chicago during spring break is just as nice as anywhere else. At least this is what I tell myself the beginning of the week as I see taxis and limos lined on the streets in our neighborhood and cheery neighbors waving goodbye. I promise to keep an eye on the neighbor’s homes as we’re the only ones left in the subdivision this whole week.
We’ll manage; I’ve got a whole bunch of fun planned for us, and gee, we can start by going outside and building a freaking snowman, because yes, a spring blizzard hits practically moments after our last neighbor hits the road.
We get through the first weekend fine, thanks to the fact that my husband is home, and he suggests some family time and we all go out to lunch. This is fun! We hardly ever do this! We go to one of our favorite restaurants, have a great lunch and laugh and bond. It’s a great start to our “Staycation.”
Then comes Monday, and we’ve got plans for the zoo. The snow has melted, and the sun is out, although it’s barely 40 degrees. I drop the F-bomb in front of my kids, which I practically never do, but they all refuse to wear jackets and gloves! We drive to the zoo in complete silence. This is FUN! Although the gorillas are unavailable and there is no dolphin show, most of the animals are out and playful, and my kids don’t complain that they are chilled to the bone (because of that previous F-bomb threat). The day ends up being a success. I even take them out to dinner that night.
By Tuesday, I’m about to kill myself though – the weather is rotten. My youngest, Luke, snuggles with me for a bit, and this brightens my mood for a few seconds, but still, I can’t shake the feeling that I am just going through the motions of trying to make my children happy this week. We decide to see Monsters vs. Aliens, which I am feeling like one or the other much of the time. I am constantly yelling at the kids. I’m trying to entertain them – taking them to the zoo, out to dinner, movies, letting them get whatever snacks they want, yet it never seems to be enough. What am I doing wrong here? Am I trying too hard, or not hard enough? Am I giving them too much of everything? Where is the handbook that tells me the exact recipe for making my kids happy? And why can’t the children just be BORED in the house? I would LOVE the opportunity to be bored!
I make an appointment with a chiropractor and get a babysitter for an hour JUST TO GET AWAY from the kids. Does this make me a bad mom? Is this my “Spring Break Getaway?”
Wednesday morning the phone rings at 8 a.m. It’s my husband who’s been at work for an hour already. He KNOWS the only positive to my spring break is the fact that the kids can get up and make their own cereal and that I can sleep in, yet he really needs a phone number he’s left on the dresser. I am convinced he’s done this on purpose, and now I’m up for the day. And cranky.
Today’s plan is to meet a friend and her children in town for pizza and cookie dough and ice cream. (Yes, there’s a place that sells cookie dough made without raw eggs that you can eat.) This was what was getting me through the week. However, when we get home, I experience a sugar crash and fall dead asleep on the couch, only to wake to a horrible kitchen mess the kids have made.
But then I remember it’s DATE NIGHT! Yes, hubby and I get to go out alone tonight! Of course, it’s to see our 9-year-old daughter’s dietician to discuss why she can’t even eat one chicken nugget without having a problem. An hour session at $130 and 20 bucks for a babysitter – I cringe to think about the fantastic evening we could have had out together! Then I reconsider and am thankful that this is only one small problem we have to face as parents, and I’m immediately grateful.
Thursday I wake at 5:30 a.m. with a migraine. I can’t even wallow in the pain because my youngest, Luke, comes in with a sore throat. Today was going to be our spring break, do-nothing, lazy day (read: laundry, work, clean up kids’ mess), but now I have a killer headache, and I suspect strep is in the house. A visit to the doctor confirms my suspicion and oddly, I feel vindicated. We moms like it when we can diagnose our own kids, right?
Friday brings a bit of relief as hubby takes the day off from work, and I get to visit my chiropractor without having to bring the kids. Call THAT a party! We’ve got an overnight trip planned to visit friends, and I do let them know we’ve got a case of strep in the house. Fortunately, Luke has been on antibiotics for 24 hours and these are not wacky, paranoid parents who would prefer we stay home (which is why we’re friends with them in the first place), so we make the overnight trip. For the first time all week I relax. We all have a great meal and some even better cocktails. Ahhh!
But, of course, Saturday comes all too soon, and we’ve got to rush back home so our daughter can attend her first softball practice in 30-degree weather, which is insane. Plus, I wonder who’s even going to be at the practice? The whole world is still on spring-break vacation!
Sunday morning we’ve got a day trip planned to visit cousins who are in town. Grandma wants to host an Easter egg hunt, but it’s POURING rain. Still, we all hop into the minivan and drive the hour-trip and have an indoor Easter egg hunt. The kids have a great time – does it matter if chocolate candy is hidden indoors or outside? Not at all!
It’s Sunday night, my children’s spring break is nearing its end, and we’ve now got to drive home the 70 miles and get organized for their first day back to school. It’s no longer pouring rain, we’ve elevated to snow. In April. This is exactly how our spring break week started. We have come full circle and finished a not-so-terrific week off of school. Together. And I guess that’s the main point here, we were together. Not sunbathing or beachcombing, not exploring a new city or camping out in a hotel room. Yet, we were all together, even if we were only just at home. And I need to be grateful for this togetherness.
No matter if we were basking in the sun at a warm destination or fighting the elements here, we wouldn’t have been able to plan to avoid any of the unforeseeable things that happened. Kids get strep. Moms get cranky. Weather changes. Kids get bored.
I need to not stress so much about the little things I can’t control, and to have fun in the moments that I can have with my family. I need to work hard at creating great memories with my children because soon enough, they’re not going to want to go out for ice cream, or see a movie, hunt for eggs, visit friends, or even go out for pizza with me.
Instead, there’s going to come a day where I’ll have plenty of time to be bored, and when it comes right down to it, I really don’t think I’m looking forward to that all too much. Because life would be really, really boring without my kids, no matter where we spend our spring break.