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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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With 3 kids, spring break is hard work

After putting it off too long, I recently sat down with a stack of academic calendars and activity schedules so I could plan our family’s spring and see where I needed to coordinate carpools. As everyone knows, it takes a village to raise a child.

I opened my planner, pencil poised to populate the upcoming months with events, meets, games, performances and other assorted obligations.

The family calendar has gotten so complicated, with enough conflicts and overlaps, I muse about migrating to an online version but have held out. I still like the tactile act of writing and checking off items in my daily planner.

After a few minutes spent entering important dates, I stopped in disbelief. “No!” I wailed.

We have three children. To my dismay, this year each one has a different spring break, conveniently staggered every other week.

Emily, a college freshman, is off first. Two weeks later Isaac, who attends EWU through the Running Start program, gets a break. Ian, our middle school student, has the last school-free week.

My husband, Curtis, teaches in a different district than the one we live in, so I held my breath while searching for his school calendar.

Our family is active and distracting and when everyone is together, we’re loud. It’s a fun family. But this isn’t good for business.

As a self-employed writer working out of a home office, school holidays require strategic planning to ensure I don’t lose productivity. That’s why, when my kids were younger, I rented office space with another writer during the summer.

Sometimes business isn’t good for family either. Shushing them, waving them away and getting irritated at interruptions wasn’t working, so for the sake of family harmony, I went to work elsewhere. My ability to meet deadline didn’t change but my attitude did when the background noise didn’t echo with the sounds of someone else on vacation.

It’s a lot easier now that my kids are self-sufficient teens who don’t need me to feed or entertain them and who age-appropriately prefer the company of friends over their mom. Still, having them home changes my workday.

Having my husband home makes working almost impossible. He should take this as a compliment. There’s a reason we got married. While I enjoy time alone with him and have all sorts of aspirations for our empty nest years, four different weeks of spring break might undo me.

“Please have the same vacation,” I muttered while shuffling through schedules, looking for Curtis’ calendar. When I found it, I sighed with relief. Thankfully, the Spokane-area school districts must have matched up major holidays. Curtis and Ian have the same vacation.

Still, I wondered what to do with three spring breaks. Obviously, a family vacation would be impossible.

A friend suggested I turn the tag-team holidays it into opportunities for each kid to get one-on-one time. Something special happens when you spend time with just one child, no siblings competing for air space or attention. Whether it happens by plan or happy accident, it’s a gift.

As a mom, creating that time has always been a goal and a challenge.

“But what about work?” I wondered.

Selfishly, I’d enjoy vacationing with each of my kids during their breaks but knew I needed to spread the joy so I could meet deadlines and remain gainfully employed.

It took plotting and planning with my husband and both sets of grandparents to ensure each child had the chance to get out of town while basking in unconditional love and undivided attention.

As it turns out, sometimes it takes a village to vacation a child while raising a writer.

Jill Barville will write in this space twice a month about families, life and everything else. She can be reached at
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