Remember waking up on Christmas morning as a kid?
The night before you can’t fall asleep no matter how hard you try. You toss and turn with every tick of the dinosaur clock hanging on the wall. The big green tail slowing tick-tocking away the minutes.
As you lie there sweating in your new G.I. Joe footie pajamas while your mind races with images of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nintendo games your heart suddenly stops.
Were those reindeer hooves pounding on the roof?
Suddenly you snap awake, look out the window, and see a glimmer of sunlight on the horizon.
Holy eggnog, Batman! It’s Christmas morning!
Let the merry mayhem commence!
Santa’s not-so-little helper
Christmas is my favorite day of the year. It’s a bit less magical since the pounding my kids hear is actually Daddy trying to assemble some toy, bike, or doll furniture without swearing like a sailor.
Regardless of navigating poorly-written instructions, there are few things more satisfying than watching your kids tear into their gifts, wide-eyed with wonder and joy, and giving you big hugs.
You work hard to provide for your family and it feels good to make your kids happy. However, Christmas can get a little chaotic. Keeping the crazy under wraps is a fine art.
Here are a few tricks to survive Christmas with your sanity (and soul) intact.
- Plan ahead. Don’t leave wrapping until the literal last-minute. You don’t want to be fighting with scissors, tape and rolls of festive paper when you’re supposed to be eating milk and cookies on Santa’s behalf.
- Skip the bow. There’s no reason to wrestle with ribbons and tags, keep it simple. Kids don’t care about how professional the wrap job is. I understand wanting to hear the sound of tearing paper as your kids unwrap their presents reveal the toy hidden underneath. But when you’re down to the wire just get the job done. The less tape the better.
- Leave it in the box. If “some assembly required” is written anywhere, leave it in the box. There is no reason to stay up until 2:00 a.m. building a dollhouse or racetrack. Besides, kids like to “help” put stuff together anyway. Share the experience and you get the bonus of bonding time.
- Abandon bedtime. Let the kids stay up late. There are plenty of Christmas movies to keep them entertained until they pass out. Plus they just might sleep in. (Did you catch that?).
- Get some sleep. If you’re tired and cranky on Christmas morning you might as well dig up Charles Dickens and ask him to write you in as Ebeneezer Scrooge. Do whatever it takes to catch some z’s the day/night before.
- Provide an appetizer. Making kids wait until Christmas morning to open anything is cruel and unusual punishment. It’s like keeping water from a marathon runner until they cross the finish line. When your kids finally are let loose on the treasure under the tree it’s gonna be a bloodbath. Let the tikes open pajamas, a movie, or small toy the night before to pacify the “present fever”.
- Stretch it out. Open one gift at a time. This spreads out the fun of opening presents, and gives the kids an opportunity to serve others as they take turns playing Santa. It makes the magic last a little longer and is a nifty trick to keep the greedy Grinch at bay.
- Establish a routine. As kids, we weren’t allowed to wake up too early (once we knew how to tell time this rule was more enforceable). Have a rhythm to the morning that let’s you be flexible while managing expectations.
- Remember the reason for the season. Read the Christmas story from the Bible (the one with paper, not the app on your phone) before anything is unwrapped on Christmas morning. This helps to remind everyone of why this special day is celebrated.
- Put food in your belly. In all the excitement of presents, fluffy pajamas, and jungle of boxes, it’s surprisingly easy to forget to eat. Nothing like starving kids and tired parents to conjure a holiday meltdown amidst the shards of wrapping paper.
- Just relax. Cut everyone some slack. Christmas is a tough gig because it’s the one day a year EVERYONE looks forward too. That’s a lot of pressure. Something is bound to go wrong. As the parent you can ensure the spirit of Christmas is preserved by chilling out.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. The opportunity to slow down, spend time with family, drink cocoa by the fire, and listen to holiday music.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. May the mayhem be manageable, the smiles be wide, and the laughter loud.
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