5 Ways to Survive the Spring Break Slump with Military Kids
Written by Jeanine Rickman
When the everyday familiar and comforting routines of school days are disrupted, it can bring a few challenges. While the media spins spring break as “all fun in the sun” and poolside parties, life for most military families is not so glamorous. Instead, many military families are struggling to adjust and meet their basic needs.
Spring break is so much more enjoyable when you have your basics covered! The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) diligently helps active duty families facing food insecurity and military childcare needs, so that service members and their families can worry a little less.
Here are 5 ways military families can have a fun and engaging spring break without adding financial stress:
#1: Think Outside the Lunch Box
Many military families come to rely daily on the meals provided by schools, so challenges with military food insecurity may become more pronounced during school breaks. In fact, 40% of military children are on free or reduced-price lunch programs (FRL). To fight military food insecurity and help military families thrive, the ASYMCA offers a variety of programs and services, including Neighborhood Exchanges, food pantries, and other food distributions and emergency relief programs.
Spring break is a great opportunity to try new meals with items received from these food distributions. Our family likes to do pantry challenges where we take some of the more unusual ingredients and find a new recipe to try. Bonus: When kids help prepare the meal, it keeps them entertained and engaged!
#2: Take it Outside
As we welcome springtime and sunshine, our family is always excited to get out of the house and do more outdoor activities.
One spring break activity we enjoy is doing nature scavenger hunts. We make a simple list of animals and plants that we might see along the way, which helps kids stay engaged. You can also create a scavenger hunt list with pictures and laminate it so it can be reused.
Even better, this activity can be done in your own neighborhood! My son keeps a small “adventure bag” with a notebook, colored pencils, a small magnifying glass, and a plastic container for collecting things, so we are always ready to go explore.
#3: Spring Camp Like a Champ
As parents, our schedules aren’t always as flexible during school breaks to explore the outdoors with our children. So, it’s reassuring to know that there are safe and enriching places to bring them when school is not in session.
Many ASYMCA locations offer youth programs, including reduced-cost military childcare as well as spring break camps similar to Operation Camp, which takes place during the summer break. Some other examples include Horse of the Sun Ranch in San Diego, as well as Camp Hero and spring day camps in Southern California, Texas and Hawaii.
Also, make sure to ask for discounts for military families, scholarships, and fee waivers out in town. Over the years, we have found amazing savings in all types of camps and classes: photography camp, sports camp, dance camp, theater camp, craft class, workshops, and even surfing camp.
#4: Playing Tourist Beats the Slump Any Day
Too often this time of year brings springtime showers, and on those rainy days, it can be great to know your options when being cooped up inside becomes too much for little ones. Our family loves to find out what attractions and activities are being offered with discounts for military families through our local ASYMCA, Information, Tickets, and Travel (ITT) office, and other military nonprofits.
With our limited military family budget, it’s a huge help to be able to purchase reduced-priced tickets for museums or tours. If you have a SeaWorld® or Busch Gardens® park nearby, consider taking advantage of the Waves of Honor program which offers up to four free day passes for active-duty families (restrictions apply).
#5: The Library is a Springtime Sanctuary
Another great indoor option during spring break is to visit your local library. While you may think of a library as just a place to borrow books, so many military base libraries have become community centers.
As a mom, I would like nothing more than to find a quiet corner and curl up with a good book, but understandably, kids are different. My kids love attending story times, doing activities, and going to special events. I admit, craft time is much more fun when we are interacting with other military families and I don’t have to worry about supplies or cleaning up.
Spring Into Action
Spring break should be a time military families enjoy each other without having to worry about military food insecurity and lack of childcare. To ensure that service members and their families not only survive the spring break slump but also have access to lots of fun and enriching activities along the way, the ASYMCA provides low-cost programs that help them thrive. Support our military families by donating to ASYMCA today.