How to Survive Winter Break With The Kids

Long, unstructured days with a house full of overexcited children can try the patience of even the most saintly parent. Here’s how to find the bliss of the season.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…except your kids are sprinting through the house, screaming like banshees and swinging from your newly-dusted chandelier. It’s enough to make you want to yell, “Bah humbug!” and head straight for the spiked eggnog. But before you turn into a (slightly tipsy) Scrooge, try these 6 tips to stay blissful when the anarchy threatens to take over the house.

1

Break up that long school break.

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Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Unplanned, unstructured days at home with your kids are necessary and wonderful … but an entire week of them will seriously test your sanity. Long school breaks need some balance and a plan. Alternate relaxing days at home with play dates, visits to the museum, and outdoorsy field trips.

2

Put your kids to work on Christmas morning.

Once the initial excitement over new toys wears off, sibling fights and cries of boredom tend to start. Redirect their energy by having them make mini smartphone videos, showing off their cool new loot, for family members who don’t live nearby. This task will keep your kids occupied, make the video recipients smile and buy you a little extra peace and quiet.

3

Say no—and mean it.

Turning down invitations and putting the kibosh on unrealistic plans doesn’t mean that you’re ruining the holidays (no matter what your kids say). It means that you’re being realistic about your limits. Say it nicely but firmly, and you won’t be as likely to overextend yourself or argue with your kids. Here are three sentences to practice with: “No, we can’t go to another party tonight since we’re already committed to two this weekend.” “No, 5-year-olds can’t have their own smartphones, but maybe in another few years.” “No, you cannot have candy canes for breakfast.”



4

Take a deep breath before reacting.

A deep, belly-filing breath has the power to calm your body and your brain. Do this as soon as you feel general holiday anxiety start to creep in … and when your kids push your buttons. It’s amazing how many conflicts can be avoided—or at least not escalated—when you wait a few seconds to respond.

5

Escape the room.

You may not think you have a spare second to spend on your own, but believe it or not, the world will keep spinning if you take an hour to get a massage, watch Stranger Things or indulge in a much-needed nap. Find the time by asking your baby-sitter to stay an extra hour, doing a kid swap with a mom friend, or giving your partner the gift of extra bonding time alone with the children.

6

Keep it all in perspective.

You won’t emotionally scar your kids if you don’t make the cookies from scratch or buy them matching reindeer pajamas. All this holiday madness is supposed to be fun, and if it’s not, take a step back, reevaluate and make a change. Your kids will be happy if you’re happy and if you’re truly present with them. That’s when the magic happens, and that’s what they’ll remember.