Now that we’re back into the swing of regular school activities, I wanted to take a moment to shout out to a new hero of mine: fall break. As a kid growing up here, I don’t remember having a “fall break” per se, maybe a long weekend or an extra day off, but not five solid days out of school in the fall, other than the (slightly shorter) Thanksgiving holiday.
Since my daughter started kindergarten this year, I found myself pondering early and often in the school year how she’d spend fall break. I hadn’t planned to go on vacation, and neither my husband nor I were keen on taking five days off work. I got lucky that our after school care program, despite being closed at the school, was open for the week at two different locations in town. I quickly signed our daughter up for the full five-day program and breathed a sigh of relief.
As fall break got closer, I started wondering if sending her all five days was really what I wanted to do.
By a stroke of fate, my neighbor friend with kids around my daughter’s age (that we LOVE, by the way) got in touch with me around the same time to ask if we wanted to join them at Dollywood one day during fall break. I eagerly jumped at the chance and hesitantly asked for a day off from work. Once those plans were made, I realized I just didn’t want the week of fall break to be the same old routine as every other week. I started looking up movies for us to see as a family (quite possibly our favorite pastime) and started changing my outlook on fall break.
The beginning of fall break turned out to be a bit tough for my daughter, since she didn’t know many of the other kids in the program. My husband dropped her off the first day and she did not want him to leave. I was grateful we’d decided on going to Dollywood for the second day of fall break, both for the excitement of something different to do and to give her a break from the program if it turned out she wasn’t looking forward to continuing to attend. We had an amazing time at Dollywood. As a kid, despite being from the area, I didn’t go to Dollywood much. I took the opportunity on this visit to see it through my daughter’s eyes; these few hours were like a day at Disney World for her. Also unbeknownst to me, she’s a total daredevil. She had an absolute blast riding anything she could find – from things that twirled in circles to those that shot up and down in the air. I did my best to support her, and I enjoyed my funnel cake too. On the drive home, I got the chance to reflect on our day and I was so glad that I chose to spend it with my daughter and our friends, doing something out of the ordinary when we had the chance.
The following day, my husband and I went to visit a newly renovated movie theater in town to see a kids’ movie our daughter had been anxiously awaiting to be released. It was just a few hours, but we had a great time. Another opportunity we could have missed by simply rushing home after work to cook dinner and head for bed. The rest of fall break played out like our traditional week: daughter dropped off and my husband and me scurrying to work. But we were grateful for this time together and it made us realize we want to ensure we treat this time off as special in years to come.