8 life-saving ideas for your family’s stay-at-home Spring Break

It’s officially Spring, which means the days are getting longer, flowers are blooming, and temps are warming up. Who could be mad at that? But for parents, springtime also means Spring Break and a full week of keeping the kids in check entertained. Working parents, families on a budget, or moms and dads planning big summer vacations can’t always “spring” for a big Spring Break trip with the kiddos. But with everything else you have going on, how can you be expected to plan a seven day-long staycation?!

We’ve got your back. Check out these eight ideas for a fun stay-at-home Spring Break, and download the free Mom Tribe App to get even more suggestions from moms in your area!

1. Go camping

In your backyard, that is. Pitch a tent and get the kids to pack their own camping backpack with essentials like a flashlight, snacks, and a pillow. Make the “trek” outside, set up your sleeping bags, and spend some time observing the nature that exists in your own yard. Consider having your kids journal or draw the birds, bugs, leaves, and flowers they see on your “hike” to the tent. To stay in the camping spirit, grill up some dinner and make s’mores (if you don’t have a fire pit, we won’t judge you for sneaking inside to use the microwave). After the sun sets, it’s time for some good old-fashioned camping tales! Take turns telling stories of great adventures, or turn storytime into a game by going around a circle and building the tale sentence-by-sentence.

2. Attend a film festival

Can’t tote the kids to Sundance or Cannes? (Even if you could, would you? Let’s be real, here). This Spring, turn your living room into an at-home film festival. Let each family member pick out a flick and spend the morning drawing movie posters to put up around the house. If you want to narrow down the movie choices, consider adding a theme to your festival (animal movies, superhero movies, or films about sports are some good options). Get a few packs of theater candy or make your own healthy versions of movie snacks! We found some great ideas and recipes here (clean pecan caramel chews -- we’ll take five). Make your movie marathon more interactive by breaking between films and letting the kids help prepare snacks, or have them write or draw what they liked best about the movie. Older kids can even write and share their own movie reviews a la Roger Ebert.

3. Go on a scavenger hunt

Turn your everyday activities into something special and exciting. If you’re planning to spend a day at the park or go for neighborhood walks, why not make a game out of it? Create a simple scavenger hunt to keep the kids entertained and enthusiastic about their afternoon outdoors. The hunt could include finding a certain colored flower, giving a high-five to a friend, or counting the number of clouds in the sky. Get neighborhood kids or park playmates and their parents involved -- the more the merrier!

  Photo credit: The Spruce

Photo credit: The Spruce

4. Tour the art museum

Okay, okay...so a quiet art museum might be the last place you want to take the kids. (Plus, fancy museums might involve washing your hair and we’d never ask you to do that). We’re talking about creating your own at-home art museum! Let the kids pick out a couple of craft projects ahead of time and set up stations with crayons, markers, buttons, construction paper, and other artsy supplies. You can even let the kids “paint on the walls” -- tape up large sheets of banner paper or thin canvas fabric (if your kids are particularly messy, a garage wall might be your best bet), and they can create their own large-scale masterpiece. At the end of craft time, have the kids name their finished pieces and hang them around the house as a special art exhibit.

5. Spring cleaning challenge  

If you’re staying at home over Spring Break, might as well put the kids to work, right? We have absolutely no shame in sneaking chores into your staycation itinerary. Turn your spring cleaning into an Olympic-style competition complete with equipment and uniforms. Before the challenge starts, create cleaning caddies for your kids with supplies like safe cleaning products, rubber gloves, and a simple, age-appropriate chore checklist (here’s a great list of chores by age, and one with kid-friendly cleaning tasks). Let them decorate their own cleaning challenge t-shirt to wear during the competition. Set up challenges for different areas of the house and attach points to each completed task (think: tasks like “make your bed” in the bedroom, “put away books” in the living room, and “wipe baseboards” in kitchen). At the end of the day, host an awards ceremony and make sure to reward each kid for their efforts!

6. Document your day

Are your kids giving you hell because “they’ve already been to the zoo/park/museum/beach,” and you’re worried your day trip plans might get squashed? Put a unique spin on the day by letting your kids become photojournalists. Purchase a couple of disposable cameras (yes, they still make those) and let the kids know you’ll turn their photos into a book documenting the day’s adventure. Make sure to give them a few pointers on how to use the camera and consider giving a bit of guidance by making a list of suggested shots they should try to get throughout the day. Drop off the cameras at your local drugstore or send it through one of the many online photo book sites.

7. Open a restaurant

Going out to eat during your staycation can get expensive....plus, it involves wearing “real” clothes and only keeps the kids mildly entertained for a couple of hours. Turn your dinner plans into a day’s worth of activity by letting the kids “open” a restaurant at home. A few days in advance, help them pick a theme and decide on a menu, and perhaps even let them design their own aprons or chef hats (fabric paint and canvas aprons are inexpensive buys at a craft store). The day-of, take an outing to the local farmer’s market and let them assist with choosing produce or bagging groceries. The actual cooking process will likely be a family affair, although there are lots of options for kid-safe cooking utensils so they can help chop veggies or stir ingredients! While the parents prep the meal, have the kids set the table with homemade menus and decorations. Teach them phrases like “bon appetit” and then dig into your family-friendly meal!

  Photo credit: Parents.com

Photo credit: Parents.com

8. Take a tropical vacation

Gotcha! If a Hawaiian vacay isn’t in the cards, bring the tropics to your own home. Set up a family luau complete with leis, grass skirts, and hula dancing. You can even have the kids make DIY leis and skirts with tissue paper, rolls of crepe paper, or fake flowers and string. If the weather is warm enough, set up a “beach” in your backyard with a kiddie pool, beach towels and umbrellas, or a game of beach volleyball. Get the kids involved in preparing tropical snacks like pineapple and ham kebabs. Finish the day by watching a Hawaiian-inspired movie or by drawing pictures of your favorite beach scenes (or both)!

Has your family embarked on a staycation? We’d love to hear your ideas -- what’s kept your kids entertained (and helped you stay sane) during a stay-at-home Spring Break? Do you have suggestions for great local attractions?

Download the Mom Tribe App today and share your thoughts with other moms in your area!