I had high hopes for spring break 2020. My child, a sophomore at the time, was still interested in spending time with me. I am always grateful for the moments we share; I know how precious they are, and that as she gets older, the less cool time with mom will seem. I arranged to have the majority of the week off with her. We made hair, mani and pedi appointments, scheduled shopping trips, and time with my parents. Then the world stopped.

I have worked to maintain hope through this year. I have worked to keep my family’s spirits lifted, going so far as forcing them to listen to my off-key, horrific singing. My efforts have worked to a point, but restlessness has set in, especially after the snowstorm this past month. Feeling bored and restless can lead to destructive behavior, low spirits, and a loss of interest. I definitely did not want this for my family, especially my child. I worried the lures of social media would encourage them to make choices I would rather they did not.

WIth limited access to activities and outings, cabin fever has set in. And a week off to sit at home and stare at cell phones and YouTube videos is not my ideal Spring Break. I worry the loss of connectivity, of time with peers is doing permanent damage, but I also worry about the damage an overload of screen time could cause.

Wanting to create meaningful experiences for my child, wanting them to remember there are other people in this world, I scheduled three large scale work activities for the week. I told my husband it was an accident, but truthfully, it is my plan to get my child out of the house and off the cell phone. Together, we will volunteer and hopefully bring some cheer to different groups of families. My plan is deceptive, but honestly, at this moment, I think any and all needed methods of creating valuable time together and in the service of others is acceptable.

In anticipation of additional moments of boredom, I have resisted the urge to create a list of chores, a personal favorite, and have looked for other fun and safe activities we can do together. In my research, I learned that Air B&B has created online excursions. The excursions range from dance classes, to tours of cities, to viewings of graffiti art. I plan to invest in one or two of these excursions, as well as some great snacks to encourage family time that is not watching our 1 millionth movie.

Arts and crafts have proved a great distraction as well. I have been combing the internet looking for fun projects I can convince my family to try. Honestly, at this point, I am looking for any activity I can get my family involved in that is not screen time. After a long day at work, I know I am done with my cell phone and computer, curling up with a great book, or working on a new art project is always a favorite escape.

I know we have all struggled this past year. And I can imagine that everyone is as restless as my family is. I would love to hear what your plans for Spring Break are and how you have been staying connected, creative, and engaged. You can reach me at believestrengthpassion@gmail.com.

Sara Orellana-Paape lives in Lawton