Make the Most of Spring Break with Kids and Grandkids

Make the Most of Spring Break with Kids and Grandkids

30 unique activities for spring break with kids

When kids have a break from school (even if you homeschool), parents and grandparents have an opportunity to make great memories.

Have a Family Meeting

Before you take a break this spring, talk with your family about what their expectations are. If you’re hoping to get organized, the kids are hoping to play video games, and dad wants to go camping, no one will be happy. You may have time for all of those things, but not without planning. After coming to some agreements, create a schedule for the week. Make sure the kids know what the limits on screen time are. If you decide you’d like some spontaneity, opt for an activity jar. Write everything you’d like to do on separate pieces of paper and draw them from a jar when you’re ready for something to do.

30 Ideas to Get You Started

Some of these options are even more fun with friends. Talk with other families taking a break at the same time you are and plan a fun week together.

1. Check a family/church events calendar. Many interesting classes and programs are scheduled to coincide with spring break.

2. Make time for fitness. Whether you exercise indoors or out, consider options like roller or ice skating, swimming, biking, hiking, and tennis.

3. Visit area attractions. Local museums and zoos are great places to spend time during spring break.

4. Have a craft day. There’s no excuse not to come up with a great craft idea. Check out my Spring Break board on Pinterest for some options.

5. See a movie. Go to the theater or watch at home. A great DVD series my family loves is Sue Thomas F.B. Eye.

6. Host a tournament. Our church has had a combination video game/ping pong tourney that is a big hit with my family, but we’ve also created our own family Olympics in past years. Come up with a list of games to compete in. We’ve done darts, Catch Phrase, cake decorating, relays and more.

7. Go shopping. It’s a fun time to check out seasonal fashions at the mall or to get a bargain at a thrift store.

8. Have a surprise a day. I did this with my kids when my husband and oldest son were on a mission trip. I found free attractions and used gift cards and Groupons that I had saved to surprise them in some small way every day and they loved it.

9. Have a sleepover. Kids love to have sleepovers with their friends or cousins and it keeps them busy!

10. Let them check out 50 great websites for kids. It’s like an amusement park online.

11. Do a unit study for a day. Homeschoolers are familiar with studying a subject from every angle (including literature, art, and field trips, for example). Take a day to study a subject of interest in depth. Here’s an example on snow–probably the last thing you want to study over spring break!

12. Go on a parkathon. Take the kids to many different parks in your area. Have them vote on their favorite.

13. Take time to freshen up the house. Sort seasonal clothing and spend time giving kids’ bedrooms or playrooms a fresh, organized look.

14. Go to the library. You can get books, movies, audiobooks, and activity kits at many branches. Enjoy the materials as a family.

15. Cook together. Most kids love to cook. Bake up some meals or goodies to put in the freezer or to give to a shut-in.

16. Take a no-limits road trip. Start heading out of town and stop wherever the kids want to stop. You may have to head straight home when you’re through!

17. Have a camp in or out. If it’s too cool outside to sleep, let the kids create their own fort to sleep in. Make s’mores over a fire or in the oven.

18. Have a picnic. Whether you eat outside or on a blanket inside, be sure to have special foods you don’t normally eat.

19. Have family devotions. It’s hard to carve out time for devotions that include fun object lessons in the midst of school and extra-curriculars, so take the time to do them this week.

20. Go geocaching. Check out this website to learn more.

21. Go fishing. There is no such thing as bad fishing weather for a die-hard fisherman.

22. Plan your own drama, puppet, magic, or talent show. Invite family, friends, or neighbors to watch.

23. Fly a kite. You can buy one or make your own. Just make sure you have plenty of string.

24. Create your own scavenger hunt. Here’s how. You could combine this with a surprise a day.

25. Work on a puzzle together. A week gives you plenty of time to finish it.

26. Garden together. Go to the garden center together and let your children have their own plants to care for.

27. Have or go to a garage sale. Teach your child to negotiate.

28. Teach your kids something you’re good at. Having a grandparent teach a skill is particularly special.

29. Volunteer together. Look for a chance to help out at church, in your neighborhood, or community.

30. Play games. Whether you play board games, video games, or outdoor games, the kids will love spending time with you.

Listen to my interview on KFUO radio on this subject!

What’s your favorite way to spend spring break or time off from school?

 

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Save Your Sanity by Organizing Your Wardrobe

Save Your Sanity by Organizing Your Wardrobe

Save Your Sanity by Organizing Your Wardrobe

Clothes piled up on my closet floor because I hated how long it took me to put them away. When they were put away, I couldn’t find what I wanted because my closet was stuffed with clothes. When I went clothes shopping, I invariably came home with another pair of black pants to add to my enormous collection or the latest fashion that went with absolutely nothing. I needed help. Do you?

My Closet Today

If you think this picture is my closet, you’re the one who’s psycho! My closet isn’t nearly as picture-perfect, but it’s incredibly functional. I finally got my wardrobe together because I took a class from Brook Noel. I know. I can hear my mother now:

“You took a class to organize your closet?”

Yes, Mother (that’s what I call her when she gets high and mighty like that), I did and I’m GLAD!

To be honest, I thought I was nuts for taking a class, too. After all, I know the importance of decluttering clothes. I was doing that regularly, but since I store all of my clothing in one closet, it was still a challenge to choose which clothing to give away. At one time, I kept my off-season clothing stored away. But living in Missouri means that you need access to all kinds of clothing all the time. I wondered what else Brook could teach me that would make a difference.

I’m not going to give away all of Brook’s secrets, because I think I think her class is valuable for you. Be watching for when she offers it again! In the meantime, I am going to share with you a principle that saved my sanity:

Organize your wardrobe by outfit and accessibility.

At the time I started my class, my clothing was organized by color. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it made my closet look more attractive and gave me some ideas for outfits I hadn’t thought of before. But I had some problems.

  1. The items I used most often were the least accessible.
  2. I wasted time trying to decide on a nice outfit
  3. I didn’t know what I really needed to round out my wardrobe

Accessibility

I have limited drawer space, so all my pajamas are hung in my closet. I wear them most often, but I stored them where I couldn’t reach them easily. That’s one reason they ended up on the floor, rather than hung up. I decided to store my pajamas in the center of my closet, between the two sets of seasonal clothing. I also store jackets here. Holiday and formal wear are now stored in those hard-to-reach places. I know. A Ph.D. should have been able to figure this out, but alas. I needed Brook.

The second accessibility issue made a huge difference in keeping my closet floor clean. Rather than storing empty hangers all throughout my closet or at the inaccessible end, I started storing them all in the center of the closet. Now I can easily reach empty hangers. I don’t have to flip through every piece of clothing looking for a spare. Again, I’m rather appalled that I hadn’t figured that out before. It’s required me to form a new habit of always moving empty hangers to the center, but it’s going great.

Decisions

I have no time to waste and I bet you don’t either. Instead of trying to come up with new combinations every time I enter my closet, I can now walk in and grab an outfit that I already know looks great. Sure, new ensembles can be fun, but on an every day basis, I just want to look decent! I went so far as to pair certain jeans with certain tops. I store the same types of outfits together. Dressy outfits, business casual, and completely casual are together. Some outfits that can mix and match are also hung next to each other. It’s like Garanimals for grown-ups! (Sorry, you younger peeps have no idea what I’m talking about.)

Organizing by outfit also made it easier to decide which clothes had to go. If I found a shirt that went with nothing, for example, and I wasn’t wild about it anyway–out it went. In the past, I kept things if they fit and were in good shape, even if they didn’t coordinate with the rest of my clothing.

Shopping

Organizing my closet by outfit allowed me to determine what I still needed. I made a list of pieces I wanted to buy that completed outfits. I also added jewelry to the outfits that was purchased for them. I discovered there were some jewelry pieces I needed to buy as well. The first time I went shopping after organizing my wardrobe was amazing. I steered clear of the black pants and got a few inexpensive pieces to finish outfits. Shopping was not only easier, but cheaper!

What do you think? Would organizing your wardrobe by outfit and accessibility restore your sanity?

 

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God Isn’t Boring, But Church Often Is

God Isn’t Boring, But Church Often Is

My dog being bored

Like a married woman who becomes dissatisfied reading romance novels, I have become dissatisfied with mundane Christianity as I’ve read the thrilling adventures of missionaries–men and women like Gladys Aylward, Esther Kim, Hudson Taylor, Samuel Morris, and Eric Liddell.

Our Kids are Bored

The book, Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it, makes the argument that young people are leaving the Christian church in droves because the church isn’t addressing the big questions on evolution and the veracity of the Bible. I agree, but I also believe that young people are leaving because they’re bored. My son is currently on his mission trip to Africa. He called me from Nairobi more excited than I’ve heard him in years. The Kenyan church is on fire for God, he told me. I don’t want the flame to go out when he returns.

I’m Bored, Too

I’m only 40-something, but I’m bored, too. By boredom, I don’t mean that God is boring, because He isn’t. The relationship I have with Jesus Christ is the most exciting relationship I’ve ever had or will ever have. One reason He is so exciting to me is because He challenges me. He isn’t like a teacher who keeps saying, “Good, good” to everything I do. Instead, He says, “Good! Now try this.” What I’m asked to do always seems beyond my reach, but it isn’t.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. (Deut. 30:11)

While my personal relationship with Christ is exciting, my corporate relationship isn’t. In other words, I don’t feel my church challenges me the way Jesus does. Instead, I’m asked to do easy things I could do when I was six. I’m still dropping money in the offering basket, singing songs, and folding my hands to pray. Is that all there is?

I don’t think so. Anything becomes boring when it’s repetitive and disconnected from its purpose.

God Isn’t Boring

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to donate shoes to her missionary friend who works in a remote area of Africa. I gathered up shoes from my closet with no more thought than I give to any decluttering. Some time later, I received a photo (I can’t find it or I would share it) of the women wearing my shoes, so giddy with joy they were practically levitating. I sat at my computer and wept and wept. Giving shoes was suddenly anything but boring.

I don’t know what the answer is to the boredom epidemic in our churches, but I’m asking God to challenge me in this area. Here’s a link to a great video on why God isn’t boring.

How about you? Are you bored in your church? Are your kids? Do you have a vision for how we can bring the adventure back?

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15 Minutes Outside: Weeks 11-12

15 Minutes Outside: Weeks 11-12


I realize this isn’t a picture of my kids, but this Eastern Garter Snake definitely interested my children. Fortunately, this guy who we found in our pool when we got it open isn’t venomous like the Copperhead that bit our son, Sam. Opening the pool to discover new creatures is always a favorite outdoor activity.

Playing softball with Elaina has been a lot more fun than I thought it would be. This week I told her to put her full weight into her swing and she nearly took me out and with a tennis ball no less! She caught a pop fly during a game and was beaming. The whole family has really enjoyed playing ball together the last couple of weeks.

I’ve made a delightful discovery the past couple of weeks. The kids are thrilled if I am outside just WATCHING them play. That doesn’t mean I can come outside with a book or do anything but ooh and aah over their abilities, but it is nice that not all my time outside has to be actively playing.

I’ve enjoyed taking very quick dips into the pool (the water has been quite chilly!) while the kids play what amounts to King of the Mountain with the float.

Fortunately, we had a not-so-hot day when we could enjoy lunch outside. And yes, that counts!

I really enjoy playing with the Ogodisk with the kids. It’s a much easier to catch (and safer) frisbee and you can also use two of them with the included squishy ball.

I honestly have put in hours of time with the kids outside in the past two weeks. We had two field days! One of those field days I spent talking with friends, but the all-day one had me actively participating with a group of kids. I got so many great ideas for fun things to do outside. One of the most clever was four-way tug-of-war. Using a large rope that’s tied in a loop, four teams line up on one side of the rope that has been shaped into a square. Behind each team is a pin (we used a bowling pin). The first team to pull the rope toward their pin so someone can pick it up wins. The rope is then reshaped into a triangle for three remaining teams and then into a thin oval shape for two teams. Very fun!

A second clever (but very messy) activity was musical buckets. This is just like musical chairs only using 5-gallon buckets filled with water. Some kids enjoyed getting stuck. Other typical, but fun activities included relays, obstacle course races, and capture the flag.

We finished out the two weeks with a family bike ride. It was really hot, so we didn’t last long, but we had a great time seeing turtles and deer as we rode. I asked my husband to teach me how to load the bikes onto the carrier. For all of us to ride, we have to take two vehicles. But it’s worth the effort!

Hope I’ve Given You Some New Ideas for Getting Outside with the Kids!

 

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15 Minutes Outside: Week 7

15 Minutes Outside: Week 7

Flowers
Don’t let this photo fool you. It’s from Week 8. Week 7? Officially a bust. I was so busy being INSIDE that I was too tired to go OUTSIDE. Remember that the challenge isn’t just to spend 15 minutes outside, but to spend 15 minutes outside playing with the kids. That’s the problem.

I feel sufficiently guilty, but I’m still tired enough from overdoing it for a month that I’ve been spotty this week, too. I wonder if I’m suffering from that obligation based procrastination I wrote about? I was at the park playing tennis with a friend yesterday. The kids were with me, but I wasn’t playing with them. I spent tons of time discussing how hot, exhausted, and bored they were though. Does that count? We’ve had mid-summer temps here lately.

Anyway, there are still several days left of week 8, right? 🙂

Is anyone else out outsiding me?

P.S. Aren’t those flowers gorgeous? My husband is trying to take credit for them, but I give all the glory to God.

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