No matter how many years I’ve been working towards mastering calm-mom’ness, I still anticipate long school holiday breaks with a great deal of trepidation.
Three kids + a not-so-used-to-kid-chaos husband + no routine + cold outside is a recipe for potential disaster at my house.
And while I know that keeping everyone active and busy all the time is an easy solution, I also know that this can be a) exhausting for me (who is also theoretically on holiday) and b) result in kids who depend on parent-designed structure and entertainment more than I believe to be healthy.
So…I thought it would be helpful for me (and maybe for you) to jot down some tips that help me to find and keep calm (and sane) during the kid chaos that is about to descend upon us.
Tip #1. Know and honor yourself
Know what you need to stay well, good and sane and schedule it in. Like, now!
Will you need to go for a walk daily to get some headspace over the winter break? Tell your other half now and plan for it. Will you need to see friends regularly? Book those coffee and lunch dates today. Want a bit of romantic time with your co-parent? Schedule the sitter and make the reservation now.
Remember: this is your break too and you will be a better Mama (and partner!) if you get what you need.
Tip #2. Give the gift of giving (to yourself and your partner)
This is a super nice way of saying, hand the kids over to your other half. Even if you worry about their abilities to parent. Even if they worry about their abilities to parent. Even if the kids say “I don’t want to be/ go with Daddy”. Even if they’re clinging onto your leg as you try to part. HAND THEM OVER. SEPARATE. LET THEM GO.
In the long run this will be good for everyone. You will get your much deserved space and time. Your co-parenting partner will learn how to hang out with kid(s). Your kids will learn to manage another parenting style. Everyone will survive. (And maybe even thrive a little).
Tip #3. Find and play with that balance
When busy Moms talk about balance, we are often referring to the tug between work and family life. But there is also a balance to be found when we are at home with family over the holidays. Look for that balance between structured time and free-flow, between action and rest, between doing and being. Or how about between group time and solitary time?
I recently discovered that when I take off on weekends to do fun me stuff, my husband ensures that the children have outside time, screen time, and alone time. I’m not quite sure how he does it, but I sometimes get home to find the children each in their rooms playing quietly (himself included). I love the balance and structure that’s offered here, and definitely plan on handing over the reigns (see tip #2 above) so that we get some of that in during the break!
Tip #4. Prioritize one-on-one time
So if you have more than one kid, it is likely that the source of sibling rivalry or attention seeking comes from each kid wanting more attention from you. Nip this in the bud by ensuring that over the break you each get some quality one-on-one time together. This year I’m also encouraging the kids to get some one-on-one time with each other, with their father AND of course, for Dad and I to get some one-on-one time, too.
Tip #5. Keep your evenings (or mornings)
So whether you choose to stick with the school time bedtime routine or to let the kids stay up later, make sure that you take full advantage of those extra kid-in-bed moments. This does not mean waking up before they do to do the laundry or tidy up. No, no, no. This means waking up before they do to go for that walk, to stretch, to sleep in, to read your favorite book.
Tip #6. Share the housework
Now I don’t care who you share the housework with over the break, but be sure to share it. Hire a cleaner or create a holiday chore chart with a few fun family events to encourage the kids along. Or maybe, you can decide that until the house is tidy or dishwasher empty, there will be no trip to the movie theatre…
More bodies at home mean more mess, so think about what you need to do to help keep your space at the standard you feel content with (remembering that imperfect is the new perfect!).
Your next step…
Most kids get off school next week. I encourage you to sit down with your partner before the kids get off school and explain to them that you will need some help during the break. They will understand that this is your holiday too and that you want to get some respite and start the year fresh. Talk about what this might mean in practice. Once the two adult brains are in synch, share your ideas with the children.
Everyone needs to hear, honor and respect their Mama’s needs right to a happy and restful holiday season!
Now over to you! I’d love to hear what helps you to find and stay calm amidst the kid chaos of the holiday break… Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.
For more helpful resources for Moms who want to destress and simplify December, please check out:
Originally published at medium.com