There are certain times of the year when your financial situation is broadcast to the rest of the world. March break is definitely one of them, as families with disposable income take off on exciting beach holidays and the rest of us are stuck using the dreaded word staycation to describe our plans.
But just because you’re staying at home and/or operating on a shoestring budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Here’s my seven-day guide to enjoying this March break without leaving your area code.
Monday: Pyjama day
To kick-start your week off, everybody gets to sleep in—which means you don’t have to get out of bed until 6:45 a.m., when your child bursts into the room screaming, “It’s pyjama day!” Then, make a super-fun breakfast involving pancakes, fruit and a smiley face made out of bacon to at least give the impression that you aren’t utterly depressed to be staying home during March break. Around 10:30 a.m., you may notice that everybody in the house is going stir-crazy at the thought of spending eight more hours in their pyjamas, so you may want to have a contingency plan that involves getting dressed and going to the mall for lunch.
Tuesday: Pool day
Don’t be jealous of those families lounging in the sun at all-inclusive Caribbean resorts—you have access to a community pool! Oh, sure, it’s going to be jammed with 450 other kids whose parents had the same brilliant idea, but you’re only spending $2.25 per child to get into this place. As an added “tropical” bonus, there is a 70 percent chance you will contract some nasty stomach virus while you’re there.
Wednesday: Outdoor day
Plan a magical day outside for your kids and some of their neighbourhood friends. Keep in mind that March temperatures in Canada tend to have wild fluctuations, so make sure you pack both mittens and sunscreen for this outing. Your local park has probably thawed into a swampy wasteland over the past couple of weeks, but that won’t stop your child from demanding to be pushed on the swings while you stand knee-deep in mud.
Thursday: Spring cleaning day
Everybody grab the mop and sponges to help clean the house from top to bottom. It’ll be fun, right? Make a game to see who can find the most Rainbow Loom bands in the course of six hours. Play upbeat music to keep spirits up (but keep the Frozen soundtrack well hidden). Also, be prepared to have intense standoffs with your kids when you try to purge some of their old toys, even if they haven’t played with them for years. (Note: Kids who went swimming at the community pool on Tuesday may try to exhibit symptoms of the stomach flu in an effort to avoid spring cleaning duties.)
Friday: Spa day
Turn your home into a makeshift spa, setting up foot baths for everyone in the living room and a mani-pedi station at the kitchen table for those who want to indulge. You should also offer up mud masks so the kids can pretend to be warriors, even though you’ll essentially be undoing all the cleaning work you did the previous day.
Saturday: Game day
What’s better than family board games? Make sure that when you dust off old classics like Operation and Hungry Hungry Hippos that the games are still functional. Missing tweezers or marbles could send some of your posse into meltdown mode. Likewise, let your youngest child win the first game, otherwise Game Day may come to a dramatic and premature end. And if your kids taunt you after kicking your butt in these games, simply smile and remind them they are going back to school in 48 hours.
Sunday: Budget day
Start an aggressive savings plan so that next March the word staycation is no longer part of your vocabulary.
A version of this article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Today’s Parent with the headline, “Give me a break,” p. 58.
Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.