Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Break: A 10-Day Guide to Survival

Before we stroll down this majestic, tree-lined street of autumnal nostalgia I would like to first announce that I’m one of the moms that likes when my kids are on break. Some moms hate it. I appreciate that sentiment. Frankly, if I had some of the kids that are out there, I’d hate it too. But I love it. I look forward to it. I plan for it.

The secret to having a successful Fall Break (insert Christmas Break, Spring Break, Summer Break) is to ask your kids what they want to do. Ask this well in advance of the break. And make it a homework assignment (I don’t home school but my kids write a lot of extra essays under my direction).  I believe I posed the question something like this:

Please write a short paragraph and illustrate the top activities you would like to do during Fall Break.  Scanned answers posted here:


As you can see, the expectations weren’t that high. All I had to do was break out a football at the park and take the kids swimming. (Let me also add that when my children request to go swimming beyond the two hours a week they both put in at swim practice I am always gobstopped.)

Then I break out the secret weapon. This comes with a little bit of planning, so I’m sharing my secret now so that you can be ready for next year. That’s right, next year. At the close of the Halloween shopping frenzy I go to Michael’s, JoAnn’s, and even Target and shop their clearance sales. In the beginning I only shopped costumes because my kids were big on the dress up scene. But when they outgrew that I started to just buy the crafts and activities. These are always pennies on the dollar at clearance time. This is a clandestine operation. Pack your purchases away with the plastic pumpkins and ghost garlands when you put away your decorations.

Once my kids are actually let out for school I break out the bin of decorations and start unveiling all the fun surprises that they will have for Fall Break. This year we had the following activities at our disposal:

New decorations for the porch
Jack-O-Lantern face stickers for everything from pumpkins to artwork
Wood bead skeleton and witch kit
Masquerade masks to be decorated with feathers and sequins
Miniature finger puppets
Foam haunted house (like a gingerbread house but foam)
Gingerbread haunted house and gingerbread haunted cemetery

Also in my decorations bin I store the Halloween books (children’s picture books), Halloween linens, the skeleton pillows (sewn on Fall Break last year), and Halloween cookie cutters. When these get unearthed the boys go bananas to be reunited with their toys and reread old favorites.

What ensues after Pandora’s box of Halloween decorations is opened is really fabulous. While it all goes quickly, it’s never boring, nor frustrating. I just pick up another activity out of the pile of fun and we move on. It’s messier than my lonely days when they are in school. But it is short-lived, a mere 10 days.

And there you have it, a clue. In the next few days I’ll be sharing with you some of our Fall Break adventures – just to get your creative juices flowing.

PS – May I also recommend you take in someone else’s pet gerbils for the week? Pet-sitting is a tremendous learning experiences for the littles and adds to the Fall Break commotion.

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