Schools are out for the first full week of vacation since December—what will you do to keep your children entertained and safe for the week? Since we can rarely get away for a "real vacation" to somewhere like Florida, we often look for fun things to do in our own neighborhood. My children often start the week with grand expectations and long lists of ideas, but by the third day, they start to complain they are bored. The bickering begins, and before you know it, we need "something" to do.
I have to remember, my kids have been engaged in activity every day in school. They are used to someone giving them tasks to do and directing them throughout the day. Now they are home, and asking, “Mom, what are we going to do?” Most children are looking to their parents to entertain them, and when that fails, they will turn to television or video games to fill the void. Although a little “down time” to adjust is great, here are some other ideas to expand their horizons, and keep you sane.
Start by sitting with your children and making a plan. Some of the activities you create may be to have them help around the house with a project, such as cleaning the garage or painting a room. Get the important chores on the calendar first, and let them know what they entail--once they are done, there is more time for fun. Tell them that some vacation time will be “unplugged” (no TV, video games, computer) and that you expect them to find time to play outside, read a book or play with friends. Get the bikes and skateboards dusted off and find the baseball glove or the soccer ball, so they are ready to go. It is okay to leave time to do “nothing”, because being bored is valuable too! Your children may discover a new interest—my daughter started by baking brownies, and now culinary creations are a regular vacation activity! Last, set aside some fun family or “kid friendly” activity time, and let them help you choose. Here are some thoughts on what we have enjoyed on past vacations, at little or no cost.
My kids love to read, and so we often spend vacation days perusing the libraries. My son loves the Gales Ferry Library, since it is small, and my daughter now enjoys the teen space at Bill Library. Also, check with the both Ledyard and Groton libraries, since they often offer free vacation shows and activities. In past years we have seen a magician, a bubble guy and a movie at Ledyard Center School. Did you know that the libraries also offer free passes to local museums, the nature center and the science center? You can get discount passes to the Aquarium and the Mystic Seaport too! Check the Ledyard Libraries website here.
We love to get outside to walk or bird watch as a family. We have discovered through maps found at Town Hall and the library, that there are many hiking trails around Ledyard. There is a nice one at the Nathan Lester House where you can see the remains of the Ledyard Oak and one off of Whalehead Road called Glacier Park, where you can see the Kettle holes left by the glacier. There’s even a hidden trail behind the tennis courts and pavilion at Colonel Ledyard Park. Wear your boots, since this time of year there could be mud—which my kids loved to get into knee deep! While you’re there you could play a little tennis or let the kids play on the playground. Don’t forget the Up-Down Sawmill, which is now open on weekends! Check Ledyard Park and Recreation for more information.
So here's to a fun-filled vacation week. If you have an idea for a school vacation activity, post it here so other parents can try it out! Before you know it, the kids will be back at school, and you will wonder where the time went!