Spring Break is upon us, at least in my corner of the world. If it has come upon you and your family, how are you faring? This is supposed to be a fun time of the year when families can relax, sleep in, go away for a few days and/or have adventures in town. But what if that is not your family’s reality? The truth is, for many families with exceptional kids unless the week off is highly structured, it can be a disaster for kids and their parents. The usual structure is not in place so kids are thrown off balance, and parents don’t know what to do. That is why the best thing to do is plan it out weeks in advance, at least what you can plan. The other stuff you wing depending on your child.
Different things to consider are is your family on a budget? Will you be going away and if so how can you make that easier for your child? Are you able to home with them or will they be at a camp or with other people for a few days? The trick is to try different things and see what works for your child. I learned early on from doing this that Michael needs to have structured days, highly structured days where he knows what will be happening. There are less meltdowns, stress and anxiety when this happens. Now, don’t get me wrong. You often can’t plan things like play dates with others till the last minute, but if you and your child have planned out other things like going to see a movie, going swimming or skating, going out for lunch in advance, this gives them (and you) some ground to stand on. Also, go with the weather. On the milder days, I try and coax mine outside sledding or walking. On the colder days, a fun center or walking around his favorite mall does the drink.
Finally, it is important to take in their interests and anxiety level. Michael hates big crowds and waiting is still hard. I avoid museums for this reason, but favor a fun center where even if it is loud he can move around. Fun centers have to have video games and certain games he likes or he will not have fun. I learned that the hard way last year. Some kids do better with you alone, while others like friends along. Michael likes friends along for most activities, but some he enjoys doing with me alone. We have a traditioan of a walk around his favorite mall and then sometimes will take a smoothie and coffee break, smoothie for him, coffee for me. 😉 You be the judge. Write out the week on paper, with pictures ,on the computer. Have your child be a part of it. Again, this decreases anxiety tremendously. And, last but not least and the hardest to do, don’t forget some parent TLC. Take some time for you in the later evenings or early mornings to do what charges your battery. For me, meditation and yoga is what I day in the early hours, and writing before bed. This keeps me sane when I am hitting Mommy exhaustion. Your child needs you strong, and you want to enjoy the week with them.
Exceptional Parents, what are some of your secrets for surviving Spring Break? I’d love to hear them! Remember, the most important thing is enjoying this time with your child doing what they and you love to do most-be with one another in a fun way and make memories that will last forever. Until next time.