When we were younger, spring break represented five days of freedom. Five days of sleeping in, of not having to get up for class, of playing outside in the warm weather, hanging out with friends and staying up late doing decadent things.
Gone are those awesome days. Unfortunately, now, for my family, spring break has become a chance to tackle the long list of things on the to-do list. "Oh, we have a day where neither of us has to work. Let's go to the Social Security office and change your name! It's been two years, after all."
Or…"A whole Saturday where we don't have anything planned? We haven't done our taxes yet. Let's see if H & R Block has an appointment available."
And once the baby was born…"Let's go to the pool today. But let me just have the morning. The house needs to be clean and I have some homework."
"Totally. And I have that article to write."
Ten hours later, "Let's go to the pool tomorrow."
By the end of the week, we're lucky if we've torn ourselves away from the chore list long enough for one family outing. Sometimes, we go out to dinner and tell ourselves that we did have special family time. But really, it's not enough. Spring break should be about putting work on hold and spending time with family. But all too often, there's a list that needs to be done, and my husband and I feel an intense amount of guilt if we don't accomplish any of it. If we don't do these things on our days off, when will it all get done? Social Security offices and DMVs aren't open on the weekends, so when we have a free weekday, that's what gets thrown to the top of the priority list. Why would we spend a day going to the indoor pool or a museum when the day could be used so much more...productively?
This year, spring break passed again and at the end of it, we had a list of things we'd gotten done, but we didn't feel good about ourselves. In theory, we should've- our taxes were done, my husband had worked a good portion of the week, and I'd gotten some writing done. We should've been be happy. But we'd only spent one afternoon at a children's museum with our son. The rest of the week was spent like any other, with our schedule almost exactly the same as a work week. Spring break had come and gone and once again, we'd forgotten to enjoy it.
Next year, if we're both lucky enough to have a week that we can even call "spring break," I hope we remember the lessons we've learned from the past two years. Spring break is a privilege, a reward that isn't always guaranteed. I hope next year we take some time to breathe, to spend a few days with our families, to enjoy the time we're given. There will always be something 'important' waiting to be accomplished. The key is to prioritize appropriately. When I was younger, the joy was in ignoring the chores and soaking up the freedom. I think I had it right when I was a child. Recapturing that attitude; that's my priority for next year.
Sarahlynne is a Parenting Guru and is working on a novel for young adults.