For many parents, work obligations do not stop when the kids are out of school. Additionally, changes in routine can be stressful and disruptive for parents.

Ironically, spring break brings stress for many people. In my counseling practice, I have worked with teens, college students, and parents. Each has discussed the different concerns that spring break brings. To minimize stress and get the most out of spring break, consider the following:

 Avoid comparison

Perhaps you are thinking of a trip you took in the past or a trip your friends

are taking. Perhaps you see your non-working friends talking about fun and

creative activities their family is doing over spring break. Try to catch yourself when you began comparing situations and wishing for a different outcome. Remember that spring break represents only a snapshot of time within your life and your child’s life. Additionally, taking time to practice gratitude will be especially helpful.

Address your child’s comparison with their friends

Your child has been hearing friends talk about amazing vacations they will be going on, and they may see pictures on social media. In a child’s mind, whatever is happening right now represents their entire world. They have forgotten about the amazing trip they took over winter break, and summer vacation seems too far away. Teaching kids to cope with disappointment, delay gratification, and be appreciative are all part of your job as a parent, so turn these comparisons into teachable moments. Helping kids cope with disappointment now will help them make wise decisions in the future. We all know that not every moment can be fun, and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made about how we spend our time. Decision making is especially difficult for college students, who have many opportunities and can feel paralyzed by choices or regretful after making a choice.

Plan for flexibility and fun

Allow you children to come up with special spring break activities. Discuss the purpose and value of each activity. For example, is the activity educational, relaxing, productive, or fun? Does the activity allow for connecting and forming memories with friends or family?

Choose to take a break from something

We all need breaks, and unfortunately adults are not afforded the same scheduled breaks as children. Choose to take a break from something this spring break. Perhaps you will take a break from cooking one night and will eat out. Perhaps you will take a break from negativity and allow yourself to savor the moment. Or, you could choose to try something new in your routine. Even taking a break from things that you enjoy can be beneficial. For example, if you watch television from 7-9 pm each night, try taking a break from 7-7:30. Schedule time to do something else—you may end up enjoying or feeling rejuvenated by this break!