Spring break is often a time to travel as a family. But if your checkbook or schedule doesn’t allow for a lavish vacation, how can you maximize memory-making and equipping with life skills for your family over the week break?
Stay: Vacation in your own area. Get out a map and draw a circle with a driving radius of a one- to two-hour drive. Then divide up the week so each family member sponsors a day of enrichment, education or entertainment. Set a budget, then brainstorm FREE or nearly free things to do and places to go. (Or try an internet search of “free things to do in [city].”) Visit the Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau or chat with a hotel concierge to learn options that might be unique or seasonal. Also, your local bookstore’s travel section will have ideas by category, cost or educational value.
Prepare: When our kids were school age, each spring break and summer vacation, we used to prepare our children for success in the next school year. Back then, I made a trip to the local public school district office and asked for a “Scope and Sequence” for the coming year for the next grade level for each of our sons. Then we would map out experiences and field trips that would enrich and educate the boys on topics they would be studying in school. For example, if the solar system was coming in the year ahead, then a visit to a planetarium, Imax theater or science museum or borrowing a telescope for a nighttime picnic to stargaze or building a rocket might be included. You can also prepare your children spiritually or emotionally for the journey ahead. In our book, 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex, we share a list of traditions that can help your child or teen be well equipped for making wise choices and decisions:
- Rite of Passage: I co-authored Raising a Modern Day Princess, and as parents we also read Raising a Modern Day Knight, then created Rites of Passage celebrations to train, equip and inspire our tweens, teens and college students. [Also available is Raising a YOUNG Modern Day Princess with activities for girls 3-10.]
- The Big Reveal: If you haven’t had the “Birds and Bees talk” with your child yet, in 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex, we share tips, tools and wording to help parents explain the facts of life. Create a positive, unrushed, happy experience for “The Talk” with a getaway, or a fun activity coupled with a nice dinner in a private setting.
- Teen Relationship Contract: In 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make book (or downloadable ebook) we created a contract that walks a student through verses about relationships and asks a series of questions to help a tween or teen think through and pre-decide God-honoring choices. Reward their hard work with a night out at their favorite restaurant. Then over dinner, have them share their relationship contact and discuss topics and decisions. Consider a gift to help the student have a reminder “why” they want to make wise choices. Your local Christian bookstore will likely have purity rings, or we selected an ID bracelet and key ring and engraved with “Until the day” and 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
- Frosh Foundation: Download a set of 5 dinner and dialogue questions that help prepare a young person or college student for life once he or she launches the nest. This can also be coupled with a trip to your local Christian bookstore to get a few resources to help prepare a student for success in college.
Read: Have each child/teen check out a novel from the library or purchase a classic novel at a bookstore. Then take time to read each day (in a variety of settings: on a blanket in the park, poolside, at the lake/beach, in a cozy chair fireside). Later in the week, do some of the activities the characters experience in the literary work. For example, host a tea party, hike a mountain, paddle a canoe, etc. End the week with a movie marathon and watch a family-friendly film version of the book each of your children selected.
Inspire: Use the week to help your kids write their own book; use it as an art week with a new medium of art each day. Add in a creative physical activity (dance, hike, skate, etc) or redecorate and reorganize each of your children’s rooms— let your child/teen help plan, prepare and paint!
Navigate: While researching 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman, I came across a study that revealed that children who know their family story make better decisions. Host a Family Heritage week: Cook from family recipes and eat ethnic foods and recreate experiences or activities from your family linage. For example, I am the fourth generation daughter of shepherds from New Zealand so I purposefully had my sons experience what being a shepherd felt like by visiting a family farm. Vacation is also a great time to discuss and create your “Family Compass” (Mission, Motto and Moniker). Researching your family genealogy or history and working on a Family Crest or Coat of Arms fosters great discussions of family values and leaves a lasting legacy. (Learn how to create your family compass (or see example of ours) in 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make)
Give: Join a mission trip and travel to a third world country, or simply travel to an inner-city outreach near you. As a family, help at a small rural church, conference center or youth camp by tackling a much-needed project on a camps’ wish list. Offer to watch a child of a single mom and simply include one or two extra kids in the fun week you have planned for your family. If you are willing, it might take a little approval or training, but your family could also offer a day of respite care to the parents of a special needs child or a day of enrichment for a foster child. By giving to those less fortunate, your kids become more grateful for what they have—and at the end of a spring break that is what we all hope for—thankful, grateful kids and some precious family memories!
Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers, and authors of 45 books including the bestseller, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, now expanded and updated! www.Love-Wise.com
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