This past week saw the start of April vacation for kids in New London schools, and can we just talk about what a stressful prospect entertaining two 6 year olds, for an entire week without relying on Nick Toons as a sufficient child care provider, can be? Six weekdays, not including the weekends, and with a huge holiday thrown in for good measure, to fill with activities, to challenge imaginations, and, for the love, to leave Momma alone for FIVE minutes to watch People's Court and drink a Diet Coke.
Don't misunderstand, I adore my children and relish spending every bit of quality time I can with them. But, they thrive on structure and routine, the engaging schedule of school, and the very thing Spring Break throws into complete upheaval. The absense of that familiarity puts everyone in this house a bit on edge and this would be the year of the elusively enjoyable Spring Break.
In an effort to combat the meltdowns and confusion of vacation, I decided to be proactive and develop a plan. A plan that perhaps goes down as one of the best in my parenting career. Playground Week, 2012.
My kids, especially my son, spot playgrounds from a mile away. It's as if the scent of sand, concrete, industrial plastic and painted metal combine to entice them away from virtually any other distraction. They keep a running tally of playgrounds we're yet to visit and, each time we drive past one that's made the list, I'm eagerly reminded of its status. So, I decided, this April vacation, we'd attempt to visit as many playgrounds on that list as we could. The kids squealed with delight at the prospect, they began strategizing which to visit first. Already, I could tell, this week would be a success.
Taking into consideration the need for a rain-day plan, we scheduled our visits to both outdoor playgrounds and one indoor play space that could double as a visit to family who live a bit away. In addition to our visits, we would also take our experiences and "re-tell" our trip to the playground to reinforce some of the reading comprehension skills first graders work on so diligently this time of the year.
I know, right? Two birds with one stone. Rest assured, I surprised myself with the ingenuity.
When all is said and done, I'll have two very well exercised kids, we'll have visited 5 new playgrounds, and have spent a heaping helping of quality time together. Let's not kid ourselves, I'll also relish Monday morning school drop off just a tad bit more than usual.