On this, my fourth time around the kids-and-holidays block, here’s what I’m finally learning: the first week of January should be dedicated to one task, and one task only – holiday recovery.
Even if your holidays were utterly magical, this rule still applies to you. For as my son’s preschool teachers reminded us before the holiday break: “Even exciting experiences can be stressful.”
Ah, yes … exciting. Stressful. I’m not sure if this statement applies more to my preschooler’s experience of the holidays or to mine.
This year, the holidays brought our family an extra-exciting/stressful visitor: the family stomach bug. (Perhaps he visited you, too? Maybe you even sent him our way?) I would like to take a moment to publicly apologize to whoever was shopping on the Plaza two days before Christmas, when my child began forcefully projectiling his entire lunch into a crowd of otherwise-festive holiday shoppers, in the middle of an otherwise-clean department store.
That was some stressful excitement, to say the least.
What exciting stress (or stressful excitement?) did the holiday season bring you this year? The joy of your kids receiving new toys? Those same toys breaking an hour later, over a sibling’s head? The magic of holiday feasts and warm hot chocolate? The smell of burning apple pie after you finally prepared a meal up to your relatives’ high standards? Meeting new babies and seeing distant friends? Being in a house full of beloved family members, only to return to a lonely place?
Though our individual experiences vary, I suspect we are all encountering a bit of let-down, as we collectively unwind from the excitement and stress, and step into a new year full of both possibility and uncertainty.
This week, we will try to get our children and ourselves back into a routine, fighting the good fight of getting them (and us) to eat something other than candy and crackers. We will open our new planners or update our iCalendars, shuddering as we sight February on the horizon– the shortest longest month of the year for anyone who does not live in Florida. We will realize that the resolutions we made only a few days ago were a bad idea or maybe a great idea until we discovered leftover cookies in the back of the fridge.
Maybe you like to fight the first-week-of-January blues via the “rip off the Band-Aid” approach: by visiting the gym at 5:30 a.m. every day or by tackling a list of parenting and professional goals. That’s probably a good plan, if it works for you.
But I’ve learned that things go better for my family if I plan for the ease-in approach: baby-stepping back into normal wherever we can and expecting that we’re all going to need some extra TLC. So, today, if you need to order take-out for dinner or occasionally duck into the bathroom to hide your “reserve chocolate” from your sugar-detoxing children — well, I’ll be there right with you.
Happy holiday recovery!