Winter Break for the Kids is 17 Days Long

December 18, 2019

Well, if you’re counting from Saturday December 21st – Monday January 6th (they return to school on Tuesday January 7th — the 6th is a teacher work day).

I am taking time off from work until January 2nd — 12 days of kid time. Our nanny is taking her (fully earned!) vacation. Josh is working for 9 of the 12 days.


That is just . . . a lot of kid time. There are myriad camps and activities offered in our area, but not for G’s age. I didn’t really see the point of paying $$$ and then having G at home alone — if anything, she is perhaps easier to entertain when the other two are around!

So, I am strategizing. Yesterday I sketched out a general plan for each day (a LOT of excursions to local places). One things I do have on my side is the weather – this is a great time of year in that regard, so we should be able to be outside every day!

I also hired a babysitter strategically – two nights out when Josh is not on call, several mornings of coverage so that I can work out without waking up obscenely early, and coverage so that I can take G to MyGym on Sundays while Josh is working. We are lucky that we have a beloved babysitter that is home from college on winter break who seemed to be excited to work as many hours as we wanted.

Left to do:

  • Send out WhatsApp text to neighborhood group basically stating that I am available if anyone wants to meet up
  • Grocery lists / meal plan (I am going to cook dinner some days but will require strategizing)

IN OTHER NEWS, a round of sickness has finally made its way through the house but G seems to have a new cold already. I have barely worked out in the past week, so my ‘race’ on January 5th will be more like a ‘survival run’. This was me 10 years ago. I cannot believe I was able to run like that! I am a little sad that I will likely never achieve that kind of speed or endurance again but . . . I guess this is how life works!


  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns December 18, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Oof, that is a long winter break/time to be home with the kids. Eeks. Sounds like you are setting yourself up for success, though. I am glad you have nice weather and can be outdoors. I was home with our son for 3 days last week as he was sick (turned out to be strep) and they were the longest days ever since we were cooped up inside thanks to bitterly cold weather! I’m glad you have a babysitter to help make things more manageable. It’s a win/win situation as I am sure she’s happy to earn some cash while home on break!!!

  • Reply Sarah K December 18, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Your youngest is still so little! I just PR’d in the half marathon this year (I’m 40!) so don’t give up hope!

  • Reply Omdg December 18, 2019 at 10:33 am

    It’s not too late!!! You will still be able to run fast if you train properly.

    Dylan’s Christmas break is the same amount of time. I scheduled her for a play date on 12/23, and then gymnastics camp for three days. Honestly the worst part is going to be 1/2-1/6. I’ll have to figure that out, but… painful!! Perhaps Luca can take her skiing? I’m sure everyone and their mother will be planning the same thing though. I have to work in the OR four of those days, but in reality it will be basically every day since I need to get my research rolling. 🤷🏼‍♀️ All this to say, I empathize.

  • Reply Gillian December 18, 2019 at 10:56 am

    I am with you this winter break! Our au pair is on vacation starting tonight. Our sitter is on vacation starting at 11 am on Friday. I do have the mixed blessing/curse of family visiting until 12/26 and a husband who is not on call Christmas and New Years, but it is still a LONG two weeks.


  • Reply Linda December 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

    I don’t understand. You just finished a really challenging time at work and now you get to focus solely on family for 2 weeks (you get to be stay at home mom!). Why do you make it sound like a burden? Isn’t this the best of both worlds?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 18, 2019 at 12:13 pm

      Even stay at home moms probably find it hard when all 3 kids are out of school for a 2 weeks stretch. With no partner to help out. Sorry, not sorry for not being 100% excited about every moment of it.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 18, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Also, I just reread and don’t think I implied that I was dreading every moment either. It’s just a long time and I’m trying to come up with strategies to make it more doable/enjoyable. Sorry for my defensiveness but I feel judged harshly by your comment. Would you also judge a dad who had the kids for a 9 day stretch no school while mom was away on business?

      • Reply Linda December 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm

        I apologize. It certainly wasn’t my intent to make you feel judged.

    • Reply Gillian December 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Goodness! This seems a little harsh. As a busy working mother of 4 kids myself, I can’t say I am super excited to be home with them every waking moment for 2 weeks. For one thing, they are out of their usual routine. Plus, I am not sure that planning for a time or strategizing about how to make the time enjoyable implies dread. Plus, given the type of work SHU’s husband does on the days he is working he is probably really not around at all. Caring for kids solo is sometimes tough and often lonely.

    • Reply A December 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      Solo caring for children is hard, especially in a time that is supposed to be a break! I loved that Sarah was realistic about the challenges and thought ahead well enough to plan strategic childcare so she still gets some time that she and Josh need. And Sarah, if you come out of the other end still exhausted, I think that’s totally justified too ;).

    • Reply Sunny December 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Wow, what an insensitive comment! Why would it be the “best of both worlds” to go from a challenging work time straight into mostly solo parenting three kids who are out of school for two weeks? Both these scenarios are extreme and back-to-back would be exhausting! At the same time, these are the type of challenges most of us face, and I find it so helpful and reassuring when Sarah shares her strategies for childcare and self-care.

    • Reply Sneakers December 19, 2019 at 7:58 am

      When I’ve been was briefly a stay at home mom (18 months – which ended a year ago – we have a 9 year old) – I quickly realized that the grass was definitely not greener on the other side – and challenges of filling up time was a huge one on days when school was out and my husband was working many, many hours. We all make our own choices – and recognizing our strengths and weaknesses is key in being a good parent. I enjoy Sarah’s blog/podcast etc. because she does honestly reflect on her life – it isn’t all gorgeous instagram perfection. Sneakers

  • Reply Nikki December 18, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    We also have a similarly long break, and I’m flying solo with my 2 (almost 2 and 3.5) cross country (with a layover!) to kick it off – yipes! I’ll light a candle for both of us :)! Fortunately my husband arrives a couple days later, so help is on the way. I was just going to chime in and say not to totally write off the camps, even if G can’t participate yet. We had a random school closure day recently and my 3.5 year old really wanted to go to an art camp that was like 6 hours of the day because some of her favorite friends would be there. The almost 2 year old and I dropped her off and then met friends (from school who were also juggling the random off day) at the park for a couple of hours (which was so much easier with just one plus we still got to hang with friends). We came home and the little one took a nap and then a friend dropped the older one off so we didn’t have to interrupt naptime. My older daughter was glowing from her day at art camp (and a rare day where she got to skip her nap), and when the little one woke up we were able to walk over to another park and they played together for a couple hours to round out the day. It was great and seemed like everyone got the balance and fun from the day that they were looking for!

  • Reply Elizabeth December 18, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Your fastest days may still be ahead of you! (If you want . . . also fine to say good-bye to that phase, of course.) I barely exercised at all during the little kid years but now, at 44, I’m running marathons and hitting PRs.

  • Reply Andrea December 18, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    My little ones day care is open over the entire Xmas break except for the actual holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day). My husband wants to keep her home (he’s home those 2 weeks) so I said be my guest and promptly picked up a week at work over that time. HAHA, I’m just not cut out for that SAH parent life and know I would be ripping my hair out!!! Totally normal feelings, Sara! Solidarity!!

  • Reply Andrea December 18, 2019 at 8:01 pm


  • Reply Sara December 18, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    At the last minute, I decided to enroll my 5 year old in the after school care program he does normally the week of New Year’s (you have to pay extra during breaks). It was about $200 and I figured even if he doesn’t go the full day every day, he’ll at least go go the two full days I decided to work after the New Year holiday (so that’s still cheaper than a sitter!), plus he can have fun with some of his buddies. I think everyone generally is more well-behaved with some structure vs hanging around the house all day 🙂 Good luck! I think you have a good plan 🙂

  • Reply gwinne December 19, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Your plan sounds good. Tiny Boy and I need to make a winter break fun list so TV does not become the default. I might send a mass email to his friends’ parents to let them know we’re mostly home as well–great idea that will save on the daily can-we-have-a-playdate texts!

    I won’t have the stressed out prepping for the semester feeling, as I’m not teaching, but still, 14 days (in our case) is a lot of unstructured days. At least we haven’t had a snow day yet…

  • Reply A. December 19, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    I think that this conversation here is a good example: some parents (women and men) are more suited than others to spend time with young children. Nannys and caregivers at pre/schools and some parents seems relaxed, patients, and 100% in their element. It is ok to admit if we need more time alone and help. i only have one 3yo, love him, try to keep him for short days at school because he deserves my care and love, and I have the flexibility, but I don’t always enjoy this extra time. But I know I will be happy later that I did it. But I wouldn’t be a happy person with 3 kids. To much chaos. So, kuddos!!

  • Reply Emily December 19, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    I totally feel you. I am looking forward to our (16 day) winter break this year, but really only because 1) my husband and I are BOTH off until the 2nd, meaning we’ll easily be able to fit in family time, excursions, low-key reading time, and exercise because we can trade off when needed and 2) I have kids A & C’s age and no toddlers that have to be watched every minute! When the kids were little we had daycare that only closed for a few days around the holidays and that was so much easier to deal with. 2.5 weeks of toddler time is not easy!

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