After Thanksgiving it seems like the web goes into hyper-drive sending everyone the same message, make it the best holiday season you can!
I adore holidays. I always created our family’s version of a Norman Rockwell cover from the Saturday Evening Post. I never minded the work—it was fun.
Wait-REALITY-check: I need to have my head examined. That’s not what really happened, and certainly isn’t what my kids remember. My kids don’t remember the Martha-like decorations, vintage cookies or organic-cook-from-scratch meals. They don’t remember the 150,000 hours it took to produce it all.
They remember the forts in the living room, reading great Newbury Award wining “chapter” books (as they called them), indoor marshmallow roasts, and movie mornings followed by homemade pancakes. And they certainly remember a cranky, exhausted mom!
When I call up my mind’s photo album of memories I see an edited version of the holidays. I see sweet cherub faced angels who had perfect manners in front of the relatives.
Wait-REALITY-check: They were sweet faces, but there were also sad, mad, greedy, frustrated, needy faces, too.
The truth is I loved what I did for the holidays, and I wouldn’t change anything. Except maybe remind myself, before it began, how much time and energy it takes. In our house the holidays were 90% about the kids, and the rest I did for me. All of it took hours and hours of time. Time that had to be split between parenting and preparing!
I believe that family traditions are made up of the good, the bad, the sweet and the ugly. I respect those who aren’t big on holidays. I sometimes wonder if they’re smarter than I am?! Because when all is said and done, you can see that my kids only remember the quality things we did, not the decorations, baking and cooking.
This week I have 5 tips to help you parent while preparing. Next week the suggestions are to help mom keep her sanity. And the last week of the series shares tried and true tips to help you organize the big day, so you can actually sit down!
30-Minute-Me-Mornings: My experience has shown me that mornings are the only time to get some “me” time. Other wise the day begins and something stops it from happening. This is the time for the 30-minute video. No phone calls and no emails. Do what refuels you. I know life is busy, but 30 minutes focused just on you is an investment in sanity!
MOMMEEEEEEE: During the holidays hearing Mommeee, 534 times a day can slow you down. Try giving kids 2 “Mommy Tags” a day? Each tag means mom has to stop what she’s doing and focus on them for 2 minutes. Remind them there are only 2 a day! Ask them, “Do you really want to waste a mommy tag on this? “ You know it won’t stop all 534 times a day they call out for mom, but it can change 2 of them.
Bedtime: After a long day, you NEED to sit down! Then comes the plea for water, a kiss, or a hug. You don’t want to be mean, but deep inside you’re roaring, “Please leave me alone!” Why not try 2 “Get out of bed free” passes. Each pass entitles kids to get out of bed twice without getting in trouble! The first day or so they’ll use them in 5 minutes. But after that most kids actually fall asleep thinking about the best time to use them.
I’m bored: Think about using your garage as a playroom. Clean and child proof it, and presto! Old paneling or wood screwed to the fronts of shelves keeps little ones out. Painter’s tape on the floor creates bike tracks. Paint or colored electrical tape outlines doors and windows making empty boxes into houses. Lock all poisons, tools, refrigerators, washers and driers. Take your computer with you while they play, no more bored!
Go play with your toys? One reason kids don’t play with the toys is because they’re all available at once. When the kids are asleep, sort the toys into 3 piles and pack away two. Then rotate the toys once a week. It’s like finding new treasures each week during the holiday season when mom could really use the prep time!
Those are just a few things to help you parent while you prepare. Enjoy!