March 7, 2018

For Many Parents, Spring Break Isn't a Break at All

Kiddie Dope

Photo Credit: Richard Hamm

Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services offers several spring-break camps, including one with a sports theme.

Parents of school-age kids, it's time to buckle down and prepare for a week of juggling.

Depending on where you are in your life, you end up with a completely different take on spring break. Are you in high school or college? Are you an educator? Then this is a time to enjoy the warming season, the flowering trees and a respite from homework. Are you a parent or caregiver of a child who isn't old enough (or mature enough) to stay home alone all day? Then spring break becomes a "break" from your regular routine, turning into five days of working out child care, babysitters, drop-in daycare options and, yes, the possibility of "Grandma Camp."

But not all of us have the luxury of willing and able grandparents who can take over child-care responsibilities for a few days. So for working parents, spring break is a week of choices: Do I burn through some vacation days? Do I hire a babysitter? Do I sign my child up for a camp (if any are still open)? Can I afford to do any of this?

I'll be honest, when I was first approached about this column idea, I wasn't even thinking about spring break. I signed my daughter up for her first summer camp in October (let that sink in a minute… OCTOBER). I recently painfully swallowed another credit card charge for two more weeks of summer activities. So the thought of scheduling spring break hit me like a ton of bricks.

In my family, spring break is a patchwork—a combination of days off of work for the parents and a few days of camp for the child. I asked around among friends and social media, and many end up resorting to a similar solution. While few people take the entire week off, many combine vacation days (and maybe a trip to Atlanta) with a few days taking their child into the office. Others rely on friends or family to watch their children while they are at work, while a similar amount sign up for weeklong camps.

Athens-Clarke County really shines in this area. This year, the county's Leisure Services Department offers four camps with themes covering sports, nature and animals. These camps are great for parents or caregivers who can't afford to take the time off and need affordable child care. Camps are for ages 6–12 and are $40 for the week (some have an extra fee for a field trip, but it's worth it; note that Sandy Creek Nature Center has a half-day camp for $20). You can register online at

We also have a few day cares in our area that accept drop-ins the week of spring break. Magic Years of Learning (575 N. Harris St.) accepts children up to age 12 either on a drop-in basis or for the full week ($35 or $135). Little Angels (895 Oglethorpe Ave. or 205 Bray St.) offers drop-ins for $40 a day only if space is available, so call ahead first. Live Oak Morning School's Mother's Morning Out ($20 plus $50 registration; 355 Pulaski St.) is a half-day option. Note that both Little Angels and Live Oak only accept children up to age 4.

Not all students leave town for spring break, and some are looking for a way to make extra cash. On Facebook, search to connect with hundreds of UGA students who are willing to do all sorts of work—especially child care. I've used this resource for last-minute help and always ended up with a student studying education or child development with stellar recommendations.

Hopefully, though, you're reading this and thinking, "Ah, those poor saps. I'm taking the week off to vacation with my family!" Good for you. We all need more vacation time. Although I'm mostly saving mine for when summer arrives. Mid-May will be here before you know it, and that long expanse of summer vacation is a lot longer than any of our accrued vacation time.

Speaking of summer, mark your calendar: Athens-Clarke County camp sign-up starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 7. Let the games begin.