2017 is our third year of Spring Break, college version. We live in Arlington, Washington which is about an hour North of Seattle. We love our small town, but we also love that we have access to a bigger city as well as the ocean, mountains, lakes and rivers.
Here is our reality. We work, we have jobs. With two kids in college, our extra money needs to stretch farther. While sending our sons to exotic locales during their one week off in the middle of the semester would be wonderful, it simply is not in the cards.
Here is what our Spring Break looks like. Josh goes to WSU, a 5 1/2 hour car ride one way. My husband leaves early on the appointed day and he drives to pick him up, turns right around and brings him home. This is repeated at the other end of Spring Break. Could we fly him, could he take Wheatland Express like other Cougars? Sure. The thing is, my husband drives a lot for his job, so doing this drive is not a hardship. At all. In fact, I think he will miss this ritual that they have. It allows him uninterrupted time with his son. They talk, they laugh, they catch-up. Every once in a while I join them. Like this morning. We are taking him back. He’s snuggled up with a blanket and pillow and sleeping away the morning and I am writing this weeks blog.
Communication. If you haven’t experienced life with college kids, I will let you in on a little secret. You may wish that they call and text you all the time. They won’t. They are busy. Sometimes, unbelievably busy. You should actually schedule talks and preface texts with: FYI, Important, Urgent. You will probably get better results and be less frustrated. You will melt when they actually initiate a text and go into raptures when they do and it’s not because they need something. That is our experience. Yours could be completely different, they tell me it’s different with girls.
Ok, just had to get that off my chest. Back to the subject at hand. From that last paragraph do you see where I’m going? Unfettered access to our son means driving is actually preferred. It also allows Josh to bring home whatever he wants and take back yummy homemade food to fill his fridge.
What does the rest of Spring Break look like? Josh sees a couple of friends while home. If there are any good movies out we go see them. We cook him his favorite or take him to restaurants he can’t find in Pullman. It’s quiet and subdued.
Day Trip Stay-Cation. We usually do one adventure day on my day off. We’ll go to a museum and Pike Place Market and get in some city-vibe. If it is particularly great weather we may go on a hike or to just to Deception Pass or Washington Park. Stay-Cations are our style.
This year we went *gasp* shopping for clothes and shoes! Josh is now a junior and doing research. He will have meetings, dinners and events to attend. In the Fall he is set to go to a conference with his team. He needed a few pieces added to his wardrobe. This takes time, careful planning and patience. Three stores. That’s his limit. We added two new looks and I’m sharing one of them below.
It’s what he wants. Spring Break for Josh is not what society or his peers think of, but it’s all Josh. When it is time to head back to college, he is a little more relaxed, a little better fed, and ready to tackle the rest of the semester. I think Josh comes home because he gets pampered and he gets to enjoy some fun in Seattle before heading back to Pullman. Not familiar with Pullman area? Think medium-sized campus surrounded by rolling hills and farmland, for miles.
Our other Spring Break kid. Remember, we have twins. Zach goes to Johns Hopkins. 2700 miles away. 5 1/2 hours by direct airline flight. A not so cheap flight.
Let your child be your guide. Zach came home for his first Spring Break. That year it aligned with his brothers so they were able to spend the time together. Let me remind you, Spring Break is only a week-long.
After that first year, Zach decided to stay at JHU. He has friends whose families are more local and they usually spend a couple of days there and the rest just well, resting. Flying home, while he misses us and we miss him is expensive for such a short visit. He looses a day traveling on both directions. His body clock is also 3 hours different from ours and that’s rough to adjust for just one week. We always give him the option. We would welcome him with open arms, but as much as we may want to see him, he is who matters most in this equation.
It helps that he can take a 30 minute train to Washington DC for the day or other larger city adventures when he wants to. He has greater access than Josh. He can stay or go depending on what he and his friends want to do.
Is it hard on him? Many times his friends and roommates are able to go home or to fun exciting locales. Probably. At least a little bit? Most likely. I’ve actually asked him. He says he’s ok with it. I believe him, most of the time. This Spring Break he is cat-sitting his friends kitty and heading to New Jersey to see a concert with another friend. I imagine he is binge-watching Bo-Jack Horseman on Netflix, sleeping in and talking with his Washington friends.
Spring Break. Yep, ours doesn’t look like the videos on the news. Ours is a bit quiet. Yours may be too. That’s totally ok. My point is that Spring Break can be wild and crazy or it can be comfy and cozy. Let your kids be your guide. Ask them what they want to do. Stay at school, come home, be crazy busy with friends or quietly snuggling on the couch with their dog. Before you send your kids off to college in the first place, be realistic with your expectations and theirs. Have an open and honest discussion. Don’t make promises you or your pocket-book can’t, or shouldn’t make. They aren’t kids anymore. Don’t treat them like they are and do not act like you are one too.
That’s my two cents.
Have some fun suggestions for families on a budget with kids on Spring Break? I’d love to hear them!