Hailey Eisen: Our Happy Place


Coping While Cooped Up: Make Family Time Fun Time

Making The Most Of Holiday Time

Is it just me, or have the holidays—and vacations in general—become much more stressful since having kids? I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. (Other YMC’ers seem to be stressing about traveling with little ones too!)

I remember the days when Christmas vacations spent in Ottawa were all about cozy dinners served with wine, great movies watched in the theatre, Boxing Day shopping sprees, and lazy mornings spent sipping coffee and reading a novel…in pajamas. These things all, unequivocally, took place BK (before kids).

This year, our family will trek to Ottawa for the “holidays,” driving the requisite four-plus hours (depending on how many stops are required to pee, change diapers, eat, pee again—you know the drill) to visit my husband’s hometown.

We’ll descend upon my in-laws and take over their house with our suitcases, and diapers, and toys, and strollers, and snowsuits, and hats, and boots, and mittens, and food, and bottles. And, while it’s amazing for my kids to spend quality time with their grandparents, and I LOVE having the extra hands to help with the kids, it’s just not like it used to be.

So, in typical Hailey fashion, I find myself feeling anxious and grumpy in anticipation of a week cooped up with my husband’s family. (Trust me, it’s not them; it’s me!) And as a result, I’m already picking fights with my husband.

What if the baby won’t go to sleep in a new place? What if she cries every night—more than usual? What if she wakes up a million times—and wakes everyone else up too? What if the big kid decides she doesn’t want to sleep in the “kids” room? What if she insists on climbing into bed with us every night? What if she makes it really hard for us to put her to bed at night, making it impossible for us to sneak out to a movie or for a drink? (I really want to have a date with my husband while we’re away!) What if they’re both up at some ungodly hour every morning—wanting to play? They’ll wake everyone up and make everyone tired, and soon we’ll all be grumpy and irritable. What if. What if. What if.

This is what I do to myself before traveling with the kids. I’ve already started the ‘what ifs’ in preparation for our Disney trip and that’s still a few months away.

I used to LOVE going away—anywhere. Any change of scenery was good for me. But these days, the thought of up-ending our routine makes me kind of crazy.

So tell me, how do you survive "holidays" with your kids? What tricks do you have for not going crazy when cooped up with another family?

So far, I’ve booked myself a spa day (massage AND facial). And, I’m promising myself that won’t be the only time I get out of the house without the kids. I’m going to take advantage of all the hands on deck, ready and willing to hang with my kids. Even if that means going to Shoppers Drug Mart ALONE—I’ll take it! I’m preparing a reading list, and I’m planning to take time to read, in my PJs, with a cup of coffee in hand. Even if that means Barney or Mickey Mouse Club House has to be on the TV in the background. I’m planning to read The Girl You Left Behind and The Hive. What’s on your holiday reading list?

And, I guess, above all, I’m going to focus on being thankful. Thankful I have awesome in-laws who will welcome our loud, busy, chaotic family into their home and do whatever they can to make our stay more enjoyable. Thankful that I get to spend some time with my husband when both of us are not working. Thankful that these little getaways—no matter how exhausting—are sure to make great family memories.

So no matter how you’re celebrating the holidays this year—here’s to making the best of it!

Need more tips for reducing holiday stress? This post from Andrea Nair should help.