I recently read an article about the most stressful events that people can go through in their lives. I’m sure that most of us have experienced a few of these and I’d bet that some of us have even tackled a few of them at the same time. Heck, I know I have.
Losing my job? No problem!
Moving across the country into a new house with no friends? No problem!
Having a few babies? No big deal!
I feel like I’ve handled these stressful landmark events with style and grace (well, that might be pushing it). What I found funny was that ‘SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR FAMILY’ wasn’t listed… interesting.
Shouldn’t the holidays be a joyous time to celebrate with family over good food, drink and laughter? How do we get so carried away, rushing around, causing Black Friday riots and pushing our blood pressure through the roof?
Christmas shouldn’t be in the same category as bereavement, divorce or bankruptcy, right? I refuse to take it so seriously this year – clearly.
A few days ago, I noticed that RITZ had presented a list via MSN and GLO entitled ‘Instant Fixes for a Stress-free Holiday‘, which offers up a handful of great tips to beat the most common holiday frustrations.
These suggestions inspired me to create a list specifically for parents, as we can all agree that we’re in a league of our own when it comes to holiday-related stress. So, as a full-time stay-at-home dad, I came up with a few things that I’ve learned over the last few years.
- SHOP EARLY TO AVOID THE GOUGE – If there’s one thing that I excel at, it’s procrastinating. And here’s another not-so secret: I hate the mall. The combination of these two traits puts me way behind the eight ball when it comes to Christmas shopping, but I’ve learned my lesson. A few years ago, you’d find me hamstrung, wandering through the mall on Christmas Eve, having waited to long to shop online and have anything overnighted, scanning the bare shelves for something that my wife might like. There’s nothing worse than having to hand over some clearance oven mitts or a selfishly motivated Victoria’s Secret gift card to your wife on Christmas morning, along with a ‘your real gift should be here in 3-5 business days’. I’ve learned to take pictures throughout the year of things that she points out to me and put them away in a secret folder for safe keeping until October or November. The other thing I’ve realized is that, with toys for the kids, if it’s a hot item that season, the longer you wait the less likely you’ll be able to find it. Case in point – my son wants the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Lair this year. It’s all he’s talked about. He mumbles about it in his sleep. We finally found one last week for almost twice the retail price, but saw several of them online for 4 and 5 times what they would sell for in the store. Shop smart, not hard and don’t get caught with your pants down.
- ONLY DECORATE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE HALFWAY – This probably has a bunch of you saying “Huh? That doesn’t even make sense.” Have a couple of toddlers running around and it’ll make perfect sense. Unless you put an expandable prison gate around your tree (we did this once or twice), you run the risk of having any and/or all or your ornaments fall victim to the destructive claws of a youngster. We decided to outsmart our opponent and start decorating our tree from the middle to the top. Sure, it looks absolutely ridiculous, but we’ve managed to keep some of our oldest ceramic ornaments in tact.
- FORGET ALL THE RULES AND DO WHAT’S NECESSARY WHEN TRAVELING WITH KIDS – Everyone is talking about how much sugar your kids should have and how much screen-time is safe. Make the rules, then decide when to break them. We just made our annual 650 mile trip from DC to Atlanta. I keep my eyes on the road and just toss things into the back like meat into a tigers cage. You want cookies? Fine, eat cookies. You want to watch the iPad for 4 hours, fantastic! So long as you’re not pulling on the dogs ears who is sitting in between you, throwing toys at me or tossing valuables onto the interstate, it’s all good!
- SECURING THE PERIMETER WHILE STAYING WITH RELATIVES – If your parents or in-laws are anything like mine, their house isn’t like yours. It’s like a tchotchke museum. Porcelain animals and teacups, original framed artwork, 1st edition books – you know, adult stuff. It only takes my son a few swipes of Great-Grandpa’s cane to take out the nutcracker display on the mantel. Invest in a bag of zip-ties. NO, these aren’t for your kids (however…), but they do come in handy while trying to secure those unused cabinets and drawers. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s half the battle.
- PREPARE TO GET SICK – It’s inevitable. Last week, I took both kids to the pediatrician before our trip. I just wanted to make sure the doctor could check their eyes, ears, nose and throat. I didn’t need to be without antibiotics in the midst of a couple double ear infections on some back highway in North Carolina. I pumped them up with vitamins all week, made sure they got plenty of rest and obsessively wiped their hands and anything around them that they might touch – a tad psycho, but if it keeps them healthy over the holiday, then so be it. BUT IT NEVER WORKS. Last night, Ava caught a touch of the stomach flu that my wife’s family had been passing around and we spent the entire night jumping out of bed every twenty minutes to hold back her ponytail while she got sick in a salad bowl. And if you’ve got more than one kid, you know that it’s virtually impossible to keep the others from falling victim. Just prepare yourself for the worst and maybe the result will be better than your expectations.
These are the 5 tips that have kept me afloat the last few holiday seasons…
At the end of the day, I only want my family to smile and share in the joy of the season. And I’m not the only one.
I’ve talked a little bit about the RITZ Holiday Parade in a previous post – but don’t forget about the amazing sweepstakes, offers, deals and tips they’re offering to us every day! RITZ wants to help make the holidays less stressful and help everyone put the fun back into the holidays. Have you created your RITZ parade float yet? What has been your favorite deal so far?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of sponsored posts by RITZ Crackers, however, all opinions and thoughts are those of Dad or Alive.
Dose of Reality says
Fantastic tips! I wish I had planned ahead and finished my shopping. I need this upcoming weekend to finish things off (like half the people in my town) I’ll definitely be standing in line after line (or ordering rush shipping!) I’m taking your approach next year!! I couldn’t agree more about the screen time and sugar intake on a car trip. Sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. What happens on a car trip, stays on a car trip!! Have a great (and stress free) holiday!! –Lisa
Dude, sounds like you’ve had a rough go of it. And it’s not even Christmas yet! Hang in there. Dads Rule!!