Last week was Spring Break around these parts.
Now I personally believe that just because there is a break from school does not mean there is a break from life. If mom still has to cook and dad still has to work, kids still have responsibilities as well.
Sure the routine gets played with a bit; we are more chill; we stay up later and sleep in later; we eat worse and play more. There is no piano and no dance. But Spring Break is not a free-for-all fun fest every day. We still do chores and maybe even more than usual. We use Spring Break to spring clean.
Now to clarify, a school break is different than a vacation. A vacation is where everyone gets a break from the daily grind, even mom and dad. And it usually involves going somewhere so we can get away from the pull of every day life. Vacations are important too.
We just took a family vacation to Disneyland last month where there was no work, no chores, no cooking, etc. It WAS a free fun fest every day. We may chose to take a vacation over Spring Break in the future, but just being on Spring Break does not constitute a vacation. (I feel like I am back in geometry writing a proof.)
Anyway, we decided to do a “Half and Half” Spring Break. Half work. Half play. Each day included a work project as well as a fun activity. Sometimes the work came first and sometimes the play came first, but all days included both.
Here are some of the FUN things we did:
Local fun center (mini golf, laser tag, rock climbing, etc.)
Tent in basement all week
Play dates with friends
But we also did some WORK too:
Prepped our garden
Cleaned bathrooms including drawers and cupboards (Bye bye crusted on toothpaste)
Cleaned the basement
I used to feel a bit guilty about making my children work on school breaks or at least I kept it on the down low. I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t a fun mom or that my children were picked on. But I’ve changed my tune over the last few years because I believe that work = happiness. I have realized that when I make my children work I am equipping them with life long happiness skills.
Benjamin Franklin said, “It is a working man who is a happy man. It is the idle man who is a miserable man.”
I don’t buy into the prevalent myth that we just work so we can play or that work is a necessary evil to pay for the good times. Work is not a curse. In my mind and in my experience, work is an integral part of happiness. Work is where confidence, competence, satisfaction and learning take root. Work is where you test your limits and your character. Work is where opportunity and success start and grow. Work is part of happiness.
Even God said, “It is my WORK and my GLORY to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39. He got it. He knows that happiness and work are inextricably linked. In fact, they often coexist in the same space.
Your kids might not believe this. You might not even believe this. But the earlier we embrace work as a gift and as a key component to happiness, rather than a burden, the easier their and our lives will become.
So don’t feel guilty for putting your children to work on their breaks from school. Remember, you are helping them to be happy. And they just might ask for more. As Crew was cleaning baseboards, he looked up at me and asked, “Mom, can we do this every day during summer. Work every day. Play every day?”
I was happy that he was happy with a little work.