“I don’t know what to say, but it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.” — Ellen Griswold
The holidays. Love them or hate them the only way to avoid them is to move out of the country. Whether you travel to visit family or stay at home and host here are some tips to help you stay sane.
I am the first person to admit that when it comes to the holidays I forget something. Whether it is a gift that was left in a closet or forgetting a key ingredient for that holiday dish, there is at least one thing I forget every year.
When gathering gifts make sure you have a list of all those items you might have hidden or stashed away for surprises so you remember to bring them along. If traveling make a packing list so you don’t forget your favorite outfit or toiletries that require a late night run to pick up. Even when shopping take a copy of your recipes so you don’t forget a vital ingredient.
Keep Your Kids on Their Routine
Holidays are busy. You have parties, programs, special church programs, concerts, and the list goes on and on. Try to keep your kids on their normal routine. This means staying as close to their normal bedtime, eating at or around their usual time, and most importantly taking naps. Disrupting these routines leads to cranky (or wired) kids and can make you question your sanity.
Just Say NO!
Around the holidays it seems like everything is craving your presence or attention. You may get asked to attend several different parties from friends and family, or every team/club your child belongs to will have a holiday party. Just remember it is okay to say no, sorry we can’t make it. If someone presses you on it just explain that you already have too many commitments and you just need some down time.
Have an Escape Plan
With little ones the excitement of holiday gatherings can be overwhelming. This can lead to missed naps or tantrums that can get out of control quickly. Be ready with an escape plan. If you are staying close to home drive separate cars so that either you or your spouse can escape back home to put the kids down for a nap when it is time. If taking two vehicles isn’t an option then consider finding a room where you are gathering to lay down your young ones for a nap where they can not be disturbed. You may find you will want to escape also and take your own nap.
Take Care of Yourself
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can take a toll on your body if you are not careful. With so much going on you are tempted to eat food that you would normally shy away from or skip exercising to make more time for holiday activities. Don’t do it. Just make time and try to keep with your own routine. You can also make time for something fun and relaxing, this could be anything from going on a short hunting trip to getting a massage. Utilize family and friends that may be in town. If they offer to watch the kids take them up on it and go on a date with your spouse. Just remember to return the favor if they have kids of their own.
Offer to Help Out
Just because someone takes care of a meal or an activity every year doesn’t make it a required tradition. The reason they might do it every year is they may feel no one else is going to take care of it. Offer to help out and do the activity yourself. If dishes need to be cleaned up, then do the dishes. If a side item needs some prep work than offer to do that prep work. Don’t sit around ignoring your loved ones who are slaving away in the kitchen. This will lead to nothing but resentment. Even if they say that they got it under control at least you made an effort to try and help.
Prepare for Delays
Traveling during the holidays is one of my least favorite things. The highways are clogged up and the airports are packed. Throw in some weather and it is a recipe for a delay every time. Make sure you leave early and book your flights earlier than expected. That way if you do get delayed you won’t be late to your holiday gatherings. And don’t forget to pack extra snacks and activities for the kids in the event you get delayed.
Get Involved with Your Kids
Every day another family worries that they won’t be able to celebrate a holiday. Someone loses a job or a loved one and the potential to not being able to provide looms over their head. Charities and churches do a wonderful job of stepping up and making sure these families are provided for with food and gifts for the kids. But all these services need a crucial component. You. And while volunteering don’t forget to involve your kids. Teach them early the real reason we celebrate these holidays and that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Make sure they understand and are thankful for all they have. Once they have that perspective, they will have a much higher respect for you.
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