If your life mimics mine at all, you’re slowly trying to dig yourself out of the holiday highs. For over a week, your children have dined on peanut butter balls and sugar cookies. A break from school has allotted them late night movies and cousin slumber parties. Holiday travel and stays away from home have given way to… {shriek} … a break from three balanced(ish) meals a day.

As a parent, I can intelligently know that this is all a recipe for disaster. Yet, we let it happen because (after all), it is the holidays. And as I’ve come to learn as a parent, holidays simply equate to chaos. The highs are remarkably high and the lows are terribly low. You reluctantly let your family slide out of their routines and rituals in exchange for grandparents that spoil, schedules that don’t make sense, and travels that leave you saying “YES! YES! YES!” to avoid the public meltdowns. It is what you do with this chaos that shapes the months to come. Other years, I have stressed and fought it. I have disciplined and taken the treats away. I have returned presents and dished out timeouts like I was an army general. This year…. I’m laughing. I’m still taking away certain treats, I’ve used our time out spot a time or two, and I’m definitely feeling stressed at the kids’ behaviors. I’m also adding something new to my winter-break-bag-of-tricks: Laughter. When the going gets tough, I’m laughing. And rolling my eyes. And occasionally hiding in my locked bathroom. I’m texting friends for a dose of group commissary and enjoying that (at least according to Facebook), other parents are dealing with the same. It isn’t just me! I’m not alone!! There is something so therapeutic about that simple fact.

I kid you not with what I am going to write next. As I type this, about this topic, there are currently two moms sitting at the table next to mine catching up. One of them just (sheepishly) admitted to her friend that her 7 year old had eaten NINE candy bars in THREE days. She was embarrassed, and her face reddened as she admitted this to her friend. In response, the friend said, “Yesterday, I gave my kids popcorn for lunch because I was tired of making things they wouldn’t eat anyway.”

Not wanting to admit I was eavesdropping, I joined in the conversation (in my head only, of course), adding “Yesterday, I found my toddler up on the counter elbows deep in caramel dipped, chocolate covered pretzels…. And I didn’t stop her.”

So tell me…. How is your holiday withdrawal going? What have you done to stay sane? What is the craziest thing you’ve found yourself saying/ allowing over this long winter break?

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