The day after Thanksgiving and let the Christmas holiday madness begin! Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Travel Tuesday, Whining Wednesday, Pull Your Hair Out Thursday. The list goes on and on and on… and for four more weeks! But fear not stressed out parents, I have seven unbelievably useful tips that will help you keep your sanity (at least a little) until the champagne arrives on New Year’s Eve. Here is how to enjoy the Christmas season!
How To Enjoy Christmas: 7 Tips From A Dad To Help You Survive Holiday Madness
Number 1 – Have Some Easy Meals Up Your Sleeve
Holiday travel means holiday hunger pains, literally. If you are headed to an unfamiliar town. Try looking online to find a restaurant or two that the kids like or pack snacks and foods for the trip that they are familiar with and enjoy. There is nothing like being stuck eating cousin Joe’s Five Alarm Texas Red Bean Chili for a week. Trust me, this will not help the kiddos have a Merry Christmas! Speaking of cousins…
Number 2 – Set Rules For The Kids
A group of different-aged cousins playing together all vacation long sounds great in theory, but guess what, it never works putting a 14 year old together with a 7 year old who they only see once a year. So, to avoid chaos and hurt feelings, set some ground rules first. Shake up the group power dynamics by putting the youngest kid in charge, and making sure the older ones know that there will definitely be consequences (can you say no texting for a week!?) if they don’t obey his or her every command.
Number 3 – Have Some Fun!
We all know that our children function better with a little routine but, that routine can get boring (for us and them) after the same Christmas story has been read and told 2,488 times. So tip number three for how to enjoy the christmas season. Break up the monotony and try giving it a new flair! Read it with an accent. Spanish and Cockney are big at my house. Or try adding the word “dude” or “princess” to the end of each sentence. Preferably with a surfer accent. “Santa came sliding down the chimney… dude!”
Number 4 – Let It Slide
Number 4 as in four grandparents! Yes, they are a mixed blessing. On one hand they are fantastic cost-free child-care, but on the other hand, they also have a tendency to ignore or even contradict our child raising decisions. So, what to do!? Avoid a head-on confrontation by remembering that it is (hopefully) only for a few days and use some reverse psychology tactics. When you are headed out for a private romantic evening with the better half, let grammy and gramps mind the fort… and then stay out a couple hours later than planned! Just how much impact can another six sugar cookies REALLY have on little Johnny anyway? And who needs a bed time when Grandpa is telling stories about playing poker with the guys!? Let the kids run crazy for a nite and see how that sits with the elder crowd. Worked for me and the grandparents never again questioned my parenting rules!
Number 5 – Don’t Stress The Presents
For many families, gift-giving is a major source of stress – the commercialism, the whining demands, the financial pressure. Why not make it a little less trouble by filling stockings with family coupons? Try these… Mom Does Your Chores, Breakfast In Bed, Stay Up Late One Weekend Night, Take a Bath Without Complaining, No Homework for a Day, Kids Pick Dinner Night, etc. Don’t forget the fine print. Offer Expires January 15th, can not be combined with any other offer, can not be traded with or used against a sibling!
Number 6 – Lower your expectations.
Don’t set your expectations too high. It is too easy to build up the importance of this time of year and then anything short of a Hallmark magical winter wonderland can be a let down. If you spend weeks fixating on how perfect you can make it, the big day will not measure up. It’s fun to look forward to the holidays but don’t let it take over your life, or your child’s. I go back and remember one of my main parenting rules this time of year… Your children do not want more presents from you – they want more presence. Be present… but you don’t need to be Martha Stewart perfect!
Number 7 – Go With The Flow.
And finally… Lucky Number 7 – Give in and give up! Really. Just go with the holiday flow. Why fight against it all when it is everywhere? I finally stopped complaining about traffic and lines and holiday music. I started wearing a Santa hat everywhere I went, started singing Bing Crosby Christmas tunes, started talking to my son in my Jim Carrey, Grinch voice, and started to mellow out and remember that it is supposed to be festive this time of year. We should all let a little bit of the kid out and relax.
I hope you find these tips on how to enjoy the Christmas season helpful. After all, one more candy cane, one more rendition of Jingle Bells, and one more Super Holiday Sale never hurt anyone. I don’t think they did… did they?
Rob Youngblood is an Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Men’s Life and Style Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Communications Coach. You can also follow him on Twitter @robyoungblood.