British Columbia

Psychologist says it's OK for kids to be bored during spring break

For some parents, spring break can be a stressful pressure cooker, trying keep the kids entertained for 14 days straight while balancing the day-to-day of everyday life.

Advice may be good news for stressed out parents

A psychologist says it's OK to schedule inexpensive activities during spring break so parents and kids can get a rest. (CBC)

Spring break starts on Monday and for some parents this means two weeks of activities with the kids, day camps and family vacations.

But, for others, it can be a stressful pressure cooker, trying keep the kids entertained for 14 days straight while balancing the day-to-day of everyday life.

One psychologist says when it comes to spring break, don't stress about big-ticket items. Instead, keep it simple.

"What we know from recent research with kids is that it helps for them to be bored sometimes. It helps for them to be less structured and less programmed," Carla Fry said.

Deanna Regan, the mother of three teenagers, agrees. She says while it feels like a break for the kids, sometimes it can feel the opposite for her as a parent.

"I feel some pressure to make something happen for my kids, because everything is happening for their friends as well," Regan said.

She says it's a great time for her kids to turn off their school brains and do something a little different than normal.

Regan says the best way to reduce stress is to take her holidays at the same time and get away with her family. They go on short local hikes and other outdoor adventures to keep the kids busy.

"Not everybody can make that happen for their family," Fry said.

Dr. Carla Fry talks about how to cope with the stresses of parenthood during spring break. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC News)

Fry says while going to Disneyland and Vegas are potentials for some families, it's also OK to plan something free at home or to lean on friends and family if you're working.

Julia Dekleer's children are grown but says her family was a prime example of that when her kids had spring break when they were younger. 

She says to lessen the stress load, she would share taking care of her kids and their friends, so not every parent had the pressure of taking the entire two weeks off work, or the clean-up pressure with the kids at home all day.

The psychologist says parents may be putting unnecessary pressure on themselves to make it fun everyday with exciting things going on during spring break.

 She suggests letting the kids turn off their brains for awhile, interspersed with fun activities that don't have to cost a lot.