Spring Break! The break we all look forward to!
As I checked my calendar and realized it is already March, I had a feeling of anticipation. On this cold, snowy dreary day in Texas, (of all places) Spring was right around the corner. Spring is the season of rebirth. The days are a little warmer and longer and some flowers like daffodils, dandelions etc. start blooming. Even the animals like bears who hibernate start to wake up. There is such a sense of excitement in the air and best of all our children come home for Spring Break.
I don’t know about you, but I actually look forward to the break from school and the usual routine. It’s like we are given time to retool and get ready for the rest of the year. Kids in college get some rest and lots of fun or should I say too much fun sometimes, to many a parents chagrin.
So how can we make Spring Break fun, but still protect our kids?
1. Communication is key
I can’t emphasize enough how important communicating with your teens is, especially your college students. A lot of college students use spring break as a time to visit beaches, or just travel with their friends. Though there is nothing wrong with this, it is so important for you to know exactly where your teen is, and with who, and what are they doing. I think a lot of parents prefer the “hide your head in the sand policy” and hope that all will be well. Remember that your teens are going through a lot of changes including the desire to fit in. Some teens feel pressured to drink, and not just drink, but binge drink, just to be accepted by their friends. Some girls will give in to having sexual intercourse with people they don’t know so well, because they are drunk, so their defenses are down, and everyone is doing it and if you don’t, you are made fun of. Parents should talk to their teens seriously about underage drinking and the fact that binge drinking can kill, just from having too much alcohol in your system which can cause respiratory depression, and also because they or their friends may be tempted to drink and drive and engage in other dangerous behavior. If you are uncomfortable with who your teen is traveling with, come out and say so, and give them specific reasons why. If necessary and you are really concerned, consider cancelling the trip. Yes, your teen will be really upset with you in the moment but will ultimately thank you for protecting them.
2. Plan a trip
For younger teens, depending on the family finances you can plan a trip for the whole family. Hopefully if you were planning a trip you would have purchased your tickets by now since the prices of tickets are so high during this season. Or, you can have a stay-cation and visit museums, aquariums, water parks etc. in your own neighborhood. Spring is also a good time to reconnect with friends and relatives that you’ve lost touch with. Some teens play basketball in select teams, as well as other sports. It’s all about creating memories, so do something fun with your teens.
3. College Preparedness
For those hoping to go to college in the fall, if you haven’t done so already, you should be completing your SAT and ACT exams. Really hone in on where you want to go to college. Mike McCormack of peoplerightcareers.com says the first question should be to find out what you are good at, and what you want to do with the rest of your life or what plans you have for the future. Once you establish that, then decide what is the best college or path that will help me attain my purpose or goal. You should start planning to visit college campuses if you haven’t done this yet. And think about funding. It is said that every year there are millions of dollars of scholarship money that go unclaimed because teens don’t know how to apply for scholarships. Marianne Ragins of thescholarshipworkshop.com, says it’s never too late to apply for scholarships and she gives a lot of information on her website. There was a new App on Shark Tank, the “Scholly App” that also matches students with scholarships. It’s also good to look for volunteering opportunities for your teens. Volunteering helps students give back and also makes them more competitive for college.
4. Summer jobs and Internships
Spring break is also a good time to begin thinking about working for the summer. Do your teens want to enroll in summer school or do they want to work to save money? If you haven’t found an internship for the summer, you may be cutting it close if you are now starting to look, but it doesn’t hurt to look anyway. Remember our teens still need guidance, we shouldn’t just expect that they will know what to do. We need to have these discussions with them. If they decide to work, talk about work place safety with them.
5. Family time
Of course, there are people like me who just welcome having the family at home together again for Spring Break. Make family time special. Play games. Laugh together often and just be silly and enjoy your children. One mom told me about making Easter baskets for her teens and how much fun they have, opening the baskets and playing games with confetti eggs. This is the time to start planning for all that. Go shopping together. Talk with your teens and find out how they are really doing, or just sit quietly together and enjoy each other’s company.
So as Spring Break approaches, I’m filled with a sense of anticipation and joy. The flowers start blooming again, and families get together to just love and enjoy each other. In the midst of all that we should take the time to talk to our teens about underage drinking and about peer pressure. Take time to help your teen regroup and focus on his goals and aspirations. But also take time, to be still and enjoy the wonders of spring together.
“A happy life is made up less of great events than little, lovely moments. “
~ Maya V Patel B. 1943.