I’m just not a big fan of the holiday blog posts. I generally cannot relate to the happiness quotient.
They irk me as much as those holiday letters that reflect an entire year of only perfect moments in someone's else's less-than-perfect-but-shhhhhhh-don't-tell-anyone life.
I get the magic of the holidays – but only if I pause long enough to stare into the eyes of my now-young-adult-but-not-so-long-ago-much-younger daughters.
But, I have to say that even they are very tired of the muss and fuss; of the retail season that is thrust upon everyone one of us months in advance; of the "take down this decor to put up that" – only to repeat it again in a few weeks but in reverse.
My girls are wanting less to-do time so that we can have more together-time. It took decades, but they figured out the magic of the season.
Thus, our family traditions are being reinvented to minimize what had turned into “routine chaos”.
Routine chaos usually begins with any holiday that means that your kids have a longer break than you do. Everyone’s schedule changes. And it’s not always for the better or the saner.
Kids get time-and-a-half off for their supposed good behavior at their job (read: school). And for that, you get to rush around trying to:
- spend quality time with those barely-recognizable children who spend more hours in school and extracurricular activities than they do with you. (“Put away the tech!!! Let’s do something together! You pick. And, no, not a video game.”);
- sqeeeeeeeze and appease all the relatives who will be slighted beyond the usual “hrumph” if you don’t make as much time for them as you do for other relatives – and yes, they have a score sheet;
- spend time with caring friends who are decidedly not using spreadsheets to compare your time with them vs anyone else because, hell, they are having the exact same issues you are and they are just grateful you are NOT keeping track;
- see every doctor, dentist, orthodontist, allergist, and every other specialist (including the vet) when everyone "has off" so you DON'T have to figure out how your child can make up the exam that they missed because of your not-so-excellent school-year scheduling karma AND it doesn’t require that you take an increasingly-scarce sick day. (Wait: You’re allowed sick days?)
Routine Chaos: It’s predictable. It’s the holiday season. Spring break. Summer vacation. Fall break.
Year after year. You know it’s coming. You plan it – often in minute detail. You look forward to it. (Well, some of you do.)
There are always attempts to reconfigure it for the next round to include more relaxation.
But that never works.
Expect chaos, and you will achieve a much more zen time with family, friends, and, even, relatives.
And, by the way, for those people keeping track of your overly-scheduled time (a combination of artistic prowess and project management skills), you may give yourself permission to free up someone else's scoreboard and claim that time for YOU instead.
Highly recommended. Not easy, but highly recommended.
And every therapist in the world will congratulate and hug you for your courage and honesty (even if you have to tell a white lie to get out of seeing that yet-another-required-person to free up you-space).
One more thing regarding together time: when you turn the tech off, have a pre-planned agreement of what you will all do in order to avoid the sheer unplugged panic.
Board games don’t have to be played on the screen, for instance, and you can still buy them – even the original retro ones without the plastic bits and eye-grating revamped design!
Ditto card games on that no-screen-necessary concept.
Ditto anything involving the great outdoors and a ball or bike or tent in the yard; or, depending on your weather, a snowmen family or treehouse or Little Free Library construction project.
Ditto family movie night that ends in a popcorn food fight followed by a treasure hunt of who can find the most pieces and ending with hugs before your teens even know you hugged 'em.
Be creative. Be crazy. Let your kids and family know that any idea is up for a majority agreement and if it’s not unanimous, then oh gee, you’ll have to spend even more time together with Plans B, C, and D.
Finally, remember to this: Be decidedly un-adult. That is: let your guard down and find your inner child again. That’s a gift for everyone including yourself! A little mess. A lotta laughter. And a lot of utter silliness.
Routine Chaos. I can’t say I recommend it. I can’t say I enjoy the anticipation of all the changes in schedules and moods. But I can say that when I let go of my “have-to’s” and encourage more “want-to’s” for myself and for others, it’s a helluva lot more fun.
And I love those moments.
With the people I love.
Memory makers. Our way. Routine chaos becomes a family tradition of laughter and letting go.