03/13/2013 05:19 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 05:12 EDT

What to Do With Your Kids on March Break

Kids get involved in the Fulham Foundation Holiday Course event at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
Kids get involved in the Fulham Foundation Holiday Course event at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford

1, 2,3 and...break!

March Break. Just because the kids are on a so-called "break" doesn't mean you get to take a break from being a parent. (I've tried.) Personally I like calling it "March Break" instead of "Spring Break" mostly because it's more descriptive in terms of the timing of it (there's still snow outside my window), but also because it serves as a reminder that we can, as parents, at any point during this "week off", demand that our kids "march". To their room to clean it up, to the dinner table without complaining, to the shower when they start to smell, and to the front door to get outside and start shoveling away that 'spring' snow.

March Break doesn't mean breaking the rules or the routines -- in terms of bedtimes, meals and, let's face it, personal hygiene -- but it can be a great time to break out some new activities that don't normally fit into your schedule. If you have more than one child to organize during the week, have a discussion with all of them to find out what they'd like to do, beyond just "not go to school". But do your own research first. Look up a few free activities (start with community events) so you'll have some easy and cheap suggestions to make to them. Check out what (appropriate) movies will be playing, find out the hours and rates of pay-for activities such as the bowling alley or roller rink near you, and look into whether your local public swimming pool has special events or hours in place during the break.

Talk to other parents in advance of the week to see if they want to either join you and your kids for some of your activities, and also if they'd be interested in trading off some time so that you can both get done what needs to get done during the week. (Laundry and grocery shopping don't go on holidays! Trust me; I've also tried this.)

Often parents struggle with balancing school-age kids on March Break and having a baby or toddler at home as well. This makes it the perfect time to try out a teen babysitter during the day. Don't forget that high school kids are on break as well, and many of them would love to earn some money as well as a spot in your evening babysitter rotation.

If you're getting to know them for the first time, book them for a few hours to play with the big kids (take them for walks, to a park, even drop them at a museum or movie), or to watch the little ones while you get out with the school-age kids. If you're the parent of a high school student interested in babysitting, make some connections for them, or have them put up posters or drop off flyers.

Resist the temptation to let the kids stay up late at night as a treat, as it can be tough to get them back into regular bedtimes on the Sunday night before school starts up again, let alone having to deal with an overtired and under-eager student the next morning. You'll be ready for a break from the break by then, yourself.

Based on an article run in Metro News

Kathy Buckworth's books "Shut Up & Eat" and "Journey to the Darkside" are now available on Look for Kathy's latest, "I Am So The Boss Of You" (recently optioned by Warner Brothers Television) in bookstores everywhere March 26th.

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