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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Tsapakis

The Importantance of Decompressing this Winter Break

Our kids - and who we are we kidding, our parents and teachers - have already had quite the school year. We have collectively experienced three years of pandemic-style education and we're all exhausted.

So if there's one piece of advice we can offer this winter break, it's that it's time to decompress.

This is not the time to get caught up on extra tutoring. This is not the time to work ahead. This is not the time sign up for educational online courses. This is the time to slow down, relax, and let kids be kids. (A strong argument can also be made for letting adults be kids this winter break, too.)

Please accept this blog post as our permission to do nothing but fun, family-oriented things.

This will not make you a bad mom.

This will make you a reasonable human that sees your kids and their mental exhaustion. Take the opportunity to model the importance of taking care of your mental health by taking a step back from all the work to unwind and play. Now more than ever, our kids need the reprieve and the chance to relax and reset before we ask them to begin their second semester of school.

Here are some fun things you can do as a family over the break, and these activities and evenings are sure to stay in your kiddos' memories much longer than any extra school-based learning activities...

  • Dinner and a Movie, but with a twist! A few years ago, one of my students shared that every Friday night they rotated turns picking a family movie and the accompanying themed dinner. His favorite was Jurassic Park with dino-shaped chicken nuggets.

    • Pick your movie and then have the whole family pick part of the meal.

    • If you have kids that like to be in the kitchen, have them help you prep and cook!

  • Hot Chocolate and S'more Night! Set up a hot chocolate topping bar and s'more ingredient bar. For s'mores you can either roast them over the gas burners or in the fire place, or slowly nuke those mallows in the microwave.

    • For your hot chocolate, you can do this with the prepared packets, or you can go wild and use this recipe, which is my husband's favorite...

      • Ingredients:

        • 3 cups milk (whole milk is most delicious)

        • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

        • 3 tablespoons sugar

        • 1/2 cup chocolate, chopped (we like milk, but you can even use semi-sweet baking chocolate chips)

        • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

      • Directions

        • Whisk your milk, cocoa powder, and sugar over medium heat.

        • Right before your milk mixture boils, remove from heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate and vanilla until melted and combined.

        • Cover with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

      • Makes 4, 6-ounce servings

  • Volunteer! This is a great time of year to spend time as a family serving your community. Call your local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or food banks to see how you can donate your time.

  • See the Lights! This is the perfect time of year to go for a drive, and see all the beautiful lights that decorate homes, neighborhoods, and businesses. Many towns have that one street that goes all-out. Try to find it and maybe even park and take a walk with your family to admire the decor.

We understand the temptation to get caught up, pressure to be constantly moving, and the worry that if you do not put in the extra work, your child will fall behind. Trust us, mental health is an important component of continuing to be successful and organized - and taking a break will help!

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