04/01/2015 06:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Spring Break Means When You're a Parent of Young Kids

Janie Porter

For parents with kids who aren't school-aged yet, spring break can feel like anything but a vacation!

Before kids: You think about spring break for weeks before, dreaming of an idyllic week with a wide-open schedule. Nothing is better than just being home.

After kids: You panic when you realize spring break is only four days away, at which point you begin to have nightmares about being alone with toddlers all week. You immediately text friends and go online to research camps, then proceed to book your schedule up as much as possible. Nothing is worse than just being home.

Before kids: You don't set an alarm clock all week, and leisurely wake up around 11 a.m.. You then lay in bed, watching "Sex in the City" reruns until lunchtime.

After kids: You don't set an alarm clock, and are woken up between 6 a.m. and 6:16 a.m. every day by a screeching parade of "superheros" who are "invading the bad guys" in your master bedroom and demanding Corn Pops.

Before kids: You book a hotel room at your most favorite beachfront resort, not worrying about the peak season rate. After all, you need a break.

After kids: You spend $150 on spring break camps for your kids and gas to get them there. After all, you need a break.

Before kids: You pack vodka, three string bikinis and SPF 4.

After kids: You pack clothes for four people, SPF 90, sippy cups, snack pouches, swim diapers, floaties, hats, sunglasses, flip flops, baby shampoo, cuddle blankets, baby Tylenol, a kid thermometer, baby nail clippers, a pack 'n play and a toddler training potty. And forget your wallet.

Before kids: You grab a banana for breakfast, and then don't eat until dinner.

After kids: Within two hours of waking up, you've served four courses of toddler breakfast and reheated your coffee mug three times in a feeble (and failed) attempt to drink coffee that's not room temperature. By 10:30, the kids are demanding lunch.

Before kids: You spend most of the day lounging at the pool, where you consume three greyhounds and read Gone Girl from start to finish.

After kids: You spend 90 minutes packing lunches, hunting for swim diapers, getting bags packed and sunscreening the kids for the splash pad at the public pool, where a meltdown over forgetting the preschooler's favorite Batman rash guard ends your trip after 20 minutes.

Before kids: You take a long midday nap before spending two hours getting ready for dinner at the $40-a-plate restaurant you booked in February.

After kids: You get the toddlers down for naps, and spend the next two hours doing laundry, tidying up the house and throwing your last bag of freezer chicken in the slow cooker. You'll be lucky if you make it to 8 p.m..

Before kids: You dread the end of spring break, but when it comes, you feel rested, refreshed and your skin is bronzed and glowing. On Sunday night, you unpack your suitcase in 20 minutes.

After kids: You count down the days until it's over, and by Sunday night, you are so tired you fall asleep on the couch while Sophia the First is blaring on the TV. On Monday morning, you start 17 loads of laundry and begin the unpacking process. Which will take five weeks.


Formerly an Emmy-nominated TV news reporter, Janie Porter is the creator of and (often-unshowered) stay-at-home mama to three boys under 4 years old. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more posts about less-than-perfect parenting, juice and smoothie recipes and tips on finding your inner glow.