March Break: two words that have kids leaping with joy as vacation begins but all too often have parents' hearts sinking like a stone at the same time. After the initial euphoria of being out of school wears off, kids all too often end up whining "I'm bored. There's nothing to do," before the week is even half over.
Whatever your plans, there are fun ways to get physical activity into the March Break mix. It just takes a bit of imagination to keep the little darlings happy and to stop them — and you — from climbing the walls.
Are you one of the lucky ones who get to escape the sleet and slush of our Maritime winter in exchange for sunnier skies (and temperatures most likely)? Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you and your family have a free pass to be lazy. You don't need to truck the kids to the hotel gym to get some exercise in though – family holidays offer lots of great opportunities to expose your kids to sport and physical activity (and best of all, they will just think they're having fun on vacation). Take them to the hotel pool, go beachcombing, explore local parks or hiking trails or spend the day exploring theme parks on foot.
Involve your children in the planning
Spending March Break at home? No problem! Kids are more likely to actively engage in the activity if they have had some say in it. Have everyone write down their interests and then pull together a list of activities to do based around those interests. Ask everyone to suggest a few indoor activities, a few outdoor activities and a few ‘field trip' activities but make sure everyone makes at least one ‘active' activity suggestion for each category- that will help to ensure your activity list doesn't end up filled with sedentary activities like movie and/or video game marathons.
Put together an activity jar
Now, take that list of activities you and your family just made and go one step further: put each suggestion on its own slip of paper and put them in a jar. Then have everyone pick an activity or two out of the jar each day. It doesn't really matter if they are activities you might have planned on doing anyway — it's fun to pick out of the jar and be surprised!
Check out what's available in your community for day camps
Working parents often scramble to find childcare arrangements over March Break. Local businesses, community centres, art galleries, museums, etc will often put together special March Break programs.
Fitness and recreation centres like Dalplex have March Break day camps in place to keep your kids active all week. Your kids can tune up their bodies and social skills by spending their days playing, cooperating with others, following directions, trying new activities and making new friends along the way.
You can also check out the list of local March Break camps that HRM Parent has been compiling.
Divide and conquer
Divvy the week up between other parents who are in the same boat. Whether it's a trip to the Emera Oval, a morning of building snowmen, an afternoon at the playground, or an evening at the movies, joining forces with other parents can make the daunting task of planning a whole week's more manageable for all involved, not to mention that kids get a change of scenery by going to play somewhere else with their friends.
Dalplex, Dalhousie University's main fitness and recreation facility, has been proudly serving the community for over 30 years, offering a wide variety of fitness, wellness and recreation programs and classes for adults, children, youth and seniors. Visit their website or follow them on facebook.