A few weeks ago, as part of my ongoing campaign with The Century Council and their @TalkEarly initiative, we held a Twitter party. The goal was to bring parents together to trade secrets and strategies about managing holiday stress… to help each other find our #HolidayZen – which a lot of us could desperately use right now.
One of the products of our party was this word square, highlighting some of the key emotions, stresses and concerns as they pertain to alcohol and the holidays.
Leading up to the party and continuing now, as I write this, I am striving to find my happy place. The holidays are enough to cause a near-coronary, but add two chaotic toddlers, a 9-month pregnant wife and a 1,300 mile round-trip road-trip and my ear canals look like full-blown steam whistles.
There were a few terms within our discussion that really struck a chord with me:
“Talk to my Kids” – Hmmm, interesting concept. As opposed to using sign language or smoke signals to convince them to eat their broccoli or not hang from their Christmas Stockings mounted on the mantel, testing the limits of the Command Strips strength? As opposed to yelling and screaming like a lunatic after they throw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mini-figures into the fully-decorated Christmas tree?
I think I understand what we were getting at here – I ‘talk’ to my kids all the time, but I don’t always get down on their level, look them in the eyes and ‘talk’ to them. This has proved important. It calms ME down, as well as the minions.
“Model Good Behavior” – I won’t lie, I occasionally have trouble with this. The day before we embarked on our annual road-trip to Atlanta for the holidays, while my wife was at work, I attempted to complete a list of projects that would make our trip more enjoyable as I also managed to keep an eye on the young velociraptors.
I dragged the vacuum cleaner to my car in the driveway in an effort to remove their car seats and suck up the loose pepperoni bites, dropped fruit snacks and half-sucked candy canes embedded in my floor mats. As I maneuvered around the car, my heel caught some black ice that was thoughtfully hidden under some remaining snow in the driveway. I went down, my hip and elbow kissing the macadam with holiday flare.
With my kids watching from the garage, I belted out an echoing ‘Motherf*cker!’ through the neighborhood… then quickly realized that my audience was listening.
After getting everything and everyone loaded, we started our journey south. Through violent downpours with zero visibility, I tried to drown out the repetitive theme song from PAW Patrol (my kids won’t wear headphones with their iPads yet) and shuffle and move to avoid being hit in the head with various snacks… I kept my cool. But when massive tractor-trailers are swaying back and forth in and out of my lane and guys in tweaked out Subaru’s start riding my ass at 80 miles an hour, the holiday zen is vaporized. I find myself poking my head out the window in the rain, screaming and throwing up #1’s. This isn’t good behavior and I’m no model.
And what about the double-tantrum in the middle of the mall while trying to do some last minute shopping – EVEN AFTER I SPENT $10 TO RENT TWO OF THOSE STUPID RACE CAR STROLLERS??
I really do need to work on this ‘behavior’… and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
“Perspective” – This happened after we reached our destination a few days ago. We’ve reunited with family, spent time together watching Christmas movies, decorating the tree and setting up the toy train while listening to carols. We’ve baked cookies and enjoyed homemade holiday meals. Watching my kids yesterday, sitting on Santa’s lap, put everything into perspective.
The holidays are supposed to be magical and sometimes, as adults, we tend to get overwhelmed with the logistics of it all. We rush around trying to get here or there on time, stressing over whether or not every detail is perfect. Maybe it’s time to step back, take a deep breath and smile. Maybe it’s time to kiss, laugh and hug – to remember those who aren’t celebrating with us anymore and take advantage of the time we have with those who still are.
Let’s all find some joy this holiday season, celebrate responsibly and love one another.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Dad or Alive!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part of an ongoing series of sponsored posts in conjunction with The Century Council as part of their #TalkEarly campaign, an underage-drinking initiative.