The holidays are such a joyous time. I anticipate Halloween as soon as September starts and I begin decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving (don’t judge!) With all of the fun decorating, gift buying, and food planning, there is one thing that I feel like we don’t talk about much: the stress parents are put under during the holiday season and the tantrums that ensue, the family planning it takes, and the safe word you and your spouse have to escape when it is TIME. TO. GO.
The stress is crazy. I know I feel it and I know you do too. We put a TON of pressure on ourselves to make the holidays perfect. From the perfect holiday card photo to family gatherings where I’ve put on so much makeup my family doesn’t recognize me. It is a MAD dash from the weekend before November through New Year’s. You want it to be perfect because they’re only so small for so long.
Well, let’s bring it back. My husband and I are very lucky to have HUGE families. Most of our families all live in the St. Louis area, which means we are visiting with all sides for each holiday. My parents are divorced, so I see both of my parents’ sides separately. Before children, we blew through it with smiles, great sweaters, the perfectly planned side dish, and the perfectly wrapped gifts for all the nieces and nephews. Hugs, kisses, all love all around. Welp, that all changed when we had kids. I’m sure it did for ya’ll too.
I mean let’s face it our kiddos may or may not see some of these relatives except at big family gatherings and everyone wants all the love from your little. This for us starts the soon to be meltdown. The clinginess to me or my husband means that cute sweater is now on fire and I’m probably not going to eat. We are still trying to stick to our routines and how we handle expected and unexpected behavior for our child. So, we are trying to be positive, give choices, but still remind him “Dude, we cannot get into Aunt Mandy’s cabinets and pull out all the pots”! Then comes whimpering and that stiff body where we are struggling to pull him out of the kitchen. Oh yeah, we don’t normally eat pecan encrusted sweet potatoes, ham sliced like this, fancy Brussel sprouts… so he’s already eaten all the pouches in my bag and now only wants the cookies Papaw is sneaking him and the rolls. ALL the rolls.
So we may be throwing the food, yelling no, trying to get down. This is where it gets rough for me. Someone is usually either telling me its ok, or telling me what I should be doing in this moment. I’d rather have the “you’re ok, he’s ok. I’ll go find your husband.” When the tantrum has us screaming on the floor, I start sweating and looking for that safe word. My husband, David and I quietly plot our course of action while still smiling and trying to hold it together. I could also be laughing at this point because I had like 2 glasses of wine and that was too much. Both of us knowing it is so close to all of our bedtimes and the end of our patience. When we finally do leave I usually cry a bit in the car of exhaustion. Knowing I’ve put so much pressure on myself for it have gone perfect. It’s that mom anxiety. We get home and pour into our beds knowing we will probably do it again at a different house tomorrow. It’s so stressful but I love it. I crave our family time when we aren’t together but then that stress takes over. Can you relate?
Here’s some tips from our TeamBx3:
- We stopped saying yes to everything. We literally cannot visit two families on the same day. We rotate out of town traveling each year.
- We are still our kid’s parents. We don’t let Aunt Midge get us down. If it’s time for a time out, then we are still doing it. If we don’t want to bring attention to that silly thing he’s doing, we won’t.
- If he doesn’t want to touch/hug everyone, that’s ok! We’re cool with a high five or knuckles. That doesn’t mean he won’t ever give you a hug, but it takes time to warm up.
- We remember that we are a team. David and I are a team. We cling to that in the stressful times. Parents have to be on the same page.
- We eat a snack before we go, change right before we leave, pack extra clothes and make sure we pack jammies. Jammies go on the same time as they do at home. We also always bring some extra snacks in case that scenario above happens where he refuses food.
- We make an exit plan BEFORE we go. What do we want tomorrow to look like for our kid? Angry at the next party or well rested? We won’t be tied to the nap or early bedtime forever.
- We remember how precious our families are. We remember how blessed we are to be surrounded by so many people who want to see us during the holiday season. We instill as much as possible in our 2 year old how much he is loved by so many and it’s important to be in these places together.
- We give ourselves some grace. After all, it’s just one day.
Give yourself some grace as well and enjoy Turkey day and the holidays, together.