Every time the holidays are upon us, a pang of anxiousness sets in. I swear I will find the perfect blend of relaxation, activity, productivity, festivity and refocusing. Add a husband and a few kids to this equation with no where to be and zero routine – - it can actually create stress.
Seriously, time off from hectic schedules is the last thing I want to complain about. So a bit of reflection on how our family fared over nearly two weeks off is as follows.
Relaxation: four movies in one day for the kids (not a proud parenting moment); yoga, running and reading for me.
Activity: games! Ticket to Ride, Europe ate up nearly 3 hours of our New Year’s Eve. We played two more times throughout the week before Tweety Bird on the iPod won out. We also roller skated with hundreds on the 31st – the challenge of avoiding collisons the main focus. And some swimming and basketball.
Productivity: shopping. Lots of it. Ikea for desk chairs for kids that took a few hours of assembly. A visit from a measurer for new blinds. Mass purging and organization of files with some help from Ikea. For my 6-yr-old son, building Legos; for my 8-yr-old daughter, taking care of an additional, high maintenance American Girl.
Festivity: gatherings. Entertaining at our home, a visit to our extended family for two more celebrations. The usual continuous stream of food.
Refocus: The 2011 Love Hate List. We could all agree we hate our school’s early start time. We talked about some household improvements for 2012. Things got negative so the conversation ended quickly.
Over the course of our break, our normal routine got seriously out of whack. I tried not to feel guilty about sleeping in and taking a daily nap. I realized how unproductive and listless children (and adults!) can become when left to their own devices. From all the gifts at the onset of break, I could hardly believe it to hear they were bored. I found them bickering with each other often. The magic of The Elf of the Shelf had all but worn away.
My son assembled numerous Lego contraptions, one of which I barely captured on film – the Dinocopter, and a few Lego monster transformers from the Lego HERO collection. My daughter welcomed Piper (a brunette American Girl doll) and Honey (a golden retriever also by American Girl) to the family, along with clothing, suitcases, sleeping bags and pet carriers for them. Judging from some informal polling and lines at both stores, Lego and American Girl were the tops on boys and girls’ Christmas Lists this year.
Tradition is, the kids always get a board game from us parents. This year, Ticket to Ride, Europe, was the choice. Even though for players ages 8 and up, I decided to get it anyway for them. It’s a strategic game with a lot of options and choices. It took much patience to learn and time to play, but it held their attention for hours.
Now, this week, parents are happily back to work. Kids are off for yet another week and having a blast at their grandparents. I am relieved to have a plan for the week: work and work out. We do better in our household with a bit of routine. We know this about ourselves. It’s tough to get into total guilt-free relaxation mode.
I’m always curious to hear how others handle a week or more time off at home. How do you fare?