My post-Christmas Facebook feed has been an eclectic mix of adorably jammied, grinning children proudly holding up their Christmas haul and their mothers complaining about how messy, loud, and unpleasant the second half of Christmas break can be. This week is seriously my absolute favorite of the year, so I decided I ought to figure out why I enjoy it so much when most do not. Here is what I came up with:
1. I host Christmas.
I know this sounds like complete insanity, but remember this isn’t about how to enjoy all of Christmas break, only the second half. Hosting forces you to clean house before the new-toy tornado storms through your home. If Grandma is not giving it up and you cannot host, hopefully, you have more intrinsic motivation than I’ve got and can clean the house well before Christmas anyway.
2. I get the kids cute, new pajamas that they want to wear day and night...
...and do not, under any circumstances, encourage them to take them off. Let all those pesky bathing and clean clothes wearing rules go this week. It sounds gross, but no one has died from dirty pajamas here yet. I am pretty sure one of my daughters went out to see her steer in her pajamas yesterday. If you absolutely must leave the house, be sure they know it is perfectly acceptable to put the dirty jammies back on the moment you return.
3. I resist the temptation to schedule anything.
It would be easier to take kids to dental or eye appointments during break than to drag tired, hungry kids there after school some other day, but it is too cold to take them out in pajamas, and the dentist may be grossed out by the filth. Make some regular day that is already stressful downright horrible, instead. Do not ruin one of these great stay-home days.
4. I am super busy running kids to and from school and various activities the rest of the year.
I am an extrovert and enjoy having places to go and people to see, but everyone has their breaking point and this week of being a hermit recharges me. When my kids were younger and we did less running around two weeks without playgroup was torturous, but now it is indescribably glorious to stay home for a whole entire day. And a few in a row? Pure heaven.
5. I ignore poor eating, staying up too late, and excessive screen time.
Basically, being a terrible, irresponsible mother is quite enjoyable. Pumpkin is a vegetable even in leftover pie form, right? Yesterday, one child had two s'mores Poptarts for lunch while I ate leftover cheeseball with crackers for the third day in a row. They have nearly polished off a case of ramen noodles from Sam's Club as well. The routine is already destroyed from Christmas craziness and I believe trying to get back into it is a significant factor in the stress other moms feel, especially since it just gets lampooned by New Year’s all over again. I figure they will turn out fine if I attempt to instill good (okay, decent) habits 49 weeks per year. (I am pretty lame during Spring break too.) When they are absorbed in their new Kindles and LeapPads it leaves less time for arguing and mess making. I am sure there is a study out there that proves screen time is inversely proportinate to fighting time in households with large numbers of children.
6. I make them play with their new things.
It may sound like a complete free-for-all so far, but I am still in charge. (They also still have to complete their daily chores.) That new game looks boring? Too bad, we are playing it. That craft project has confusing instructions? Too bad, we are figuring it out! Those things will get stuck somewhere and never used if they are not used immediately. It also keeps them from making a bigger mess with their old favorites when they are so busy checking out the new things.
7. I help with all the new crafts and games as long as the kids reciprocate with their fellow siblings.
With the exception of an epic failure growing crystals, this has been the best idea ever. We got quite a few games and crafts and a LaLaLoopsey Easy Bake Oven. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed with the ‘help me’ itinerary the kids came up with for me the day after Christmas, but it has turned out great. I help one child figure out a game or craft and then they do the same for a younger sibling. I have mostly been playing two board games that are actually fun and require multiple players over the age of twelve. ( I am sorry if your kids aren’t old enough to get fun games yet. It’s awesome!) Then those big kids play the mind-numbing alphabet and matching games with the little kids while I tend to just enough housework to maintain sanity. The tween who lamented never receiving an Easy Bake Oven when she was little, discovered that she was not too old to enjoy it as she read instructions to help her little sister.
8. I wait until the weekend right before school resumes to find a home for the new stuff.
All those new board games and craft kits are in a stack on the wadded up Christmas tablecloth at one end of the dining room table along with everything else that came in a box that can be stacked on a table. It is impossible to dread the kids making a mess again if the mess never goes away. It also helps with number six.
New Year’s Day will be the last day of our post-Christmas fun. Then it will be time to readjust to being civilized (and non-smelly) human beings in time for school to resume and to get the house back into some semblance of order. Extra Bonus? They are just a little excited to get back to school after super fun mom is replaced by regular expectations mom.
I am the mother of seven children ranging from teens to a toddler, living out in the middle of nowhere, USA. I aim to hone the craft of giving advice without pretending to have this whole mom thing figured out. I am Christian, but not the really nice kind that is good at it. I am also conservative, but I promise not to be in your face with political agendas very often. I like to infuse humor into my writing, so don't freak out if you are offended or appalled by what you read here. There is a very fine line between serious advice and sarcastic hyperbole.