April 2, 2014

Spring Break

Today was my first "official" day of spring break. Evie has been off school for a week now, and I decided to take a few vacation days from work to enjoy the last bit of her break with her.

Kids with working parents often miss out on the unstructured time inherent to summer vacation and school holidays. Evie has been in some type of year-round school and/or childcare program since she was 3 months old. In a normal week, she is too busy to get bored. Even our weekends are packed with activities, between chores, errands, and socializing with friends.

The past week, Sam and I have taken turns working from home so that Evie can fully experience her 12-day break from school and childcare. We're lucky enough to both have jobs that can be done from anywhere with a phone and a WiFi connection, and Evie can do many basic things for herself: reading, operating streaming NetFlix, making Rainbow Loom bracelets.

Our arrangement works really well, until Evie comes running upstairs while I'm on a conference call to announce "You won't believe what Pinkie Pie just did!" or "Look at this strange piece of candy corn!"

To a 7-year-old, my working from home looks a lot like my not working. I sit in front of a computer, I type messages, I sometimes talk on the phone. Evie knows she's not supposed to interrupt me, but sometimes she forgets. She gets lonely. She gets bored.

I feel like boredom should be part of the childhood experience. Boredom breeds creativity and resourcefulness. During her spring break, Evie has completed several of the craft kits she received for her birthday, and she's started writing and illustrating a book. It's called "I Love Harry Potter Wii." Also, she may have spent some time playing video games.

Today, I put away my work computer and gave Evie some real attention. I also tried to experience some unstructured time of my own.

Evie and I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

We ice skated for 90 minutes.

I painted her fingernails.

Then, I decided it was time to clean and organize my closet for the first time in 4 years. I told myself, "It's not that big. Surely I can get this done in a couple of hours."

My relaxing day of vacation is ending with me awake at midnight, exhausted and wondering where I will sleep.

It turns out that Evie isn't the only one who needs a little more practice with unstructured time.

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