If you have a pre-teen in your house, you know that they like to be silly, hang out with friends and still need parents to help them plan just about all their activities. So, without breaking the bank or putting extra stress on your schedule, how can parents provide a fun spring break week for their tweens at home? 

Here are seven, low-cost ways to help foster good memories over spring break.

All of these ideas are budget-friendly and don’t require smartphones or endless amounts of time in the car.

Game Day: Out of sight, out of mind, so the saying goes. With a week off from school, help your tweens dust off the family board games that haven’t seen the light of day in quite a while. Simply bringing games out of the cupboards and putting them in plain sight can spark some interest. Let your tween plan a day of board games with family or friends. You can even supply inexpensive prizes for the winners. Don’t be surprised if Yahtzee becomes a new, (old) family favorite.

Baker’s Delight: Everyone loves dessert. Why not let your tween have the run of the kitchen for a day? Help your child plan and shop for baking supplies. If your tween is new at baking, use video tutorials on Pinterest or YouTube to supply the inspiration and know-how. Have your son or daughter present his or her dessert to the family and let the family choose their favorites. 

Pajama Day/Movie Marathon: Nothing says ‘lazy vacation day’ like staying in your pajamas all day. Loosen up on the rules during a day of spring break and let your tween stay in his or her pajamas all day. Plan to do a movie marathon together. Bonding time doesn’t have to require a whole lot of conversation. All you need is your favorite streaming network and some yummy snacks.

Get Crafty: Kids ages 10-12 tend to be very creative. Why not have a craft day during spring break? At your local hobby store, you can find kits to make bath bombs, headbands, scrunchies, friendship bracelets, origami and so much more. Include a few friends and your tween will be happy and occupied all day.

Spa Day: There’s nothing more relaxing than a day at the spa. With just a little bit of planning, you and your tween can create a spa day right in your own living room. For less than $20 you can purchase a variety of face masks and nail polish from your local pharmacy or grocery store. Have a back or neck massager lying around? Set up spa “stations” in your living room set to some relaxing music. Take a few hours to rotate stations with your tween for a relaxing, memorable time together.

Themed Sleepover: Tweens love their friends, and a great sleepover can make a lasting, fun spring break memory. Choose an easy theme and plan the night around it. Ice-cream sundaes, beach theme, movie theme, or how about Taylor Swift music with karaoke? There are so many themes to choose from. Stores like 5 Below or Oriental Trading Company can provide fun party favors. You can even use inflatable pool rafts for sleeping pads.

Camp Out in your backyard: In March, the weather in Austin can be fantastic with few bugs and easy, mid-70’s temperatures. Why not set up your camping tent in the backyard for a sleepover? Your son or daughter will love it. You can make s-mores or a campfire and grill hot dogs. A little bit of freedom and adventure will go a long way in making a great spring break memory for your tween.

Picnic in a Park: Austin boasts some beautiful picnic locations such as Laguna Gloria, Mueller Lake Park, Mayfield Park, and of course, Zilker Park. Why not let your tween plan and pack a great picnic lunch to share with friends, alfresco? Tweens need a little sense of freedom, so plan to drop off your kids for a time at one of the parks. They are sure to create some fun, lasting spring break memories with friends.


Jess Archer is a writer, a mom of two kids and a wife. She is the author of the memoir, “Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Billy Graham.”

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