Surviving and Thriving During March (April) Break

Constructive Play in Early Childhood

March break has been a cause of joy and concern for parents since the mid-30s. Initially connected to the local economy, it was associated with the harvest, the height of flu season, college and university schedules and cultural factors. In recent decades, march break is often a time to travel, connect with family, and participate in local events or activities. With the pandemic raging and infection numbers rising, you’ve probably had to cancel your plans and are left wondering how to enjoy the now APRIL break and not get cabin fever. As a foster parent, you may be limited by access visits or phone calls. Here are some tips to combat the biggest challenges and keep a smile on everyone’s face!

They are already saying they are bored!

You are not too late to spend a couple of minutes and draw up a quick plan for the week. Include a list of easy meals and snacks, activities, and tasks to fill your days. You likely already know what will keep your kids busy, but it will be difficult to think when you aren’t in a routine so keep your list posted: lego, drawing, making slime or playdoh, playing dress-up, or with their favourite toys will be helpful! This is a great time for older youth to start thinking about summer plans, and part-time jobs.  Take some time to help them update their resume or brainstorm possibilities for PT work.  You can be creative about it (write the ideas on slips of paper in a jar of popsicle sticks and select them at random) or write out a schedule to follow—either way don’t wait until Monday morning or you’ll be panicked and likely to resort to screen time early in the game!

They’ll eat me out of the house and home!

Don’t plan elaborate food or epic adventures—keep it simple. Kids aren’t accustomed to massive mid-day feasts anyway, so cereal, oatmeal, or toast for breakfast and sandwiches, mac and cheese, wraps, and soup can all be quick and healthy for lunches. One way to eat up some time is to have the kids prepare their food themselves! Yes, there will be a mess to clean up afterwards but honestly…there’s going to be a mess anyway! Little ones can spread jam on bread, or assemble sandwiches with pre-cut ingredients. Kids starting to become more helpful in the kitchen can plan a meal for dinner and you can be nearby to help them prepare. Make clean-up a part of the task! 

We’ve been home so much, it’s frustrating!

This is tough. The whole world is experiencing the worst case of cabin fever ever! So change it up! Eat lunch as a picnic in the living room, or have a dress-up or dress-down day. Do some rearranging of furniture if this is something you’ve been already thinking about.  If the weather allows, eat and play outside.  Changing your environment can make it feel new and exciting to a child! Have older kids move around their furniture, put up some new photos, or work on some personalized artwork—encourage them to increase their access to the sun!

We are feeling isolated!

We don’t need to live like hermits. Consider a social distance visit with a friend. Take some lawn chairs and masks and have a driveway playdate. Scooters are a great way to keep kids apart and moving around! If you don’t have anyone nearby, plan a digital meeting! Get together to share a story, or a show and tell. Have an online meeting with your relatives, especially those isolated and have your kids share a talent like singing a song, dancing, or playing an instrument. As the kids get more aware online, there are many safe online games like Animal Jam or Prodigy where kids safely connect.

I’m on a tight budget!

It’s easy to feel trapped by all the expensive advertisements for toys and games but you don’t have to give in. A bag of tiny marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti can become a bridge-building kit. Your recycling bin is a treasure trove of items for bird feeders and constructing robots. Did you know you can shrink old plastics in the oven to make jewellery and keychains? Old newspapers can become paper mache with flour or beautiful animals with origami folding. Crayons, markers, and paint can all be used to decorate rocks and turn them into gnome houses, garden bugs, or inspiring messages.

Mental health is a struggle

This is a big one. So many adults and children are experiencing a change in their mental health due to isolation, the constant addictive properties of the digital world, and decreased physical health and stamina. If this is true for your home, take the week to immerse yourself in good mental health practice. List 5 things that make you happy and do at least 2 of them every day. Add one more fruit or vegetable to every meal. Plant some seeds and tend to them. Stop looking at screens 1 hour before bed and try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Have recess—enjoy at least 15 minutes of physical activity each day. 

Foster Care Providers can reach out to the Resource Team to access resources to help.

Don’t take on the role of entertainer for your kids. Teach kids to find their own fun and it will go a long way to building their creative passions. Remember that the primary way to get kids active is to BE active. Take time to play with them if you have it—get on the floor and build with them, create and make a mess too. Make the first ever April break one you’ll talk about in the future—and don’t forget to take pictures! Contact Satori if you are needing help over the break or if you are considering foster parenting.