Parents Scramble to Keep Kids Busy for Break

By DNAinfo Staff on February 21, 2011 4:11pm  | Updated on February 22, 2011 4:58am

By Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CENTRAL PARK — The kids couldn’t be happier, but February break has some Manhattan parents scrambling for ways to keep their young ones occupied.

Lacking the celebratory, family-focused structure of Christmas or the outdoor potential of summer vacation, parents say the Mid-Winter Recess requires a little extra effort and creativity to keep the kids busy.

"You always have to arrange play dates … and camps," Murray Hill dad James Richardson, 63, explained, while sledding with his 8-year-old twin boys in Central Park on Monday.

"When I was a kid they’d open the door and say 'be back at dinner,'" he added, referring to his family and noting the increasingly scheduled lives of modern-day kids.

Richardson said he and his wife would both be taking time off of work to watch the kids during their week-long break from The Epiphany School on East 22nd Street. On Sunday the boys participated in a free baseball clinic hosted by the John Jay College baseball team. Later in the week, the family will head to New Jersey for a weekend of skiing and tubing.

Columbus Circle resident Tom Bubser, 49, said Monday’s snowstorm was "a nice surprise" as it provided him and his 8-year-old son Travis with a daytime activity — sledding down Pilgrim Hill on the east side of Central Park.

But Travis, who attends P.S. 11 in Chelsea, would have plenty to do during the rest of the week as well, according to his father.

"Tomorrow he’s going to a chess camp, Wednesday's baseball and then we've got family in town and play dates," Bubser said.

Like Richardson, Bubser noted that February break could mean extra work for parents.

"Living in the city, the burden is on the parents to keep the kids busy," Bubser explained. "Frankly, as a parent I wish they didn’t have a February break."

Upper East Side mom Julie Gardiner, 44, didn’t have quite as much time to fill since her daughters, 4 and 5, would return to school on Wednesday. Still, she recommended the family programs at the Metropolitan Museum, where her young ones created African masks on Sunday.

Ella and Henry, 5-year-old twins from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, played in the snow at Central Park on Presidents Day.
Ella and Henry, 5-year-old twins from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, played in the snow at Central Park on Presidents Day.
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DNAinfo/Olivia Scheck

The museum has a range of activities, including tours, art classes and story hours, throughout the week.

The Parks Department is providing programming for children throughout the city for Kids' Week. In Manhattan, kids 12 and under can attend daily programs in Inwood Hill Park to learn about history and nature, and then make crafts to take home.

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