Coping While Cooped Up: Make Family Time Fun Time

Making The Most Of Holiday Time

Coping While Cooped Up: Make Family Time Fun 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.


Six Fabulous Gifts That Are Sure To Elicit A Smile

The Happy Place Holiday Gift Guide

Six Fabulous Gifts That Are Sure To Elicit A Smile

I'm always happy to spread the LOVE when it comes to stuff I love! And so...just in time for the Holidays...I present my top six gift picks that are sure to make your giftees smile.

1. The book every kid should have (and will love!)

In my attempt to make a big deal out of Hanukkah, my kids were given tons of Hanukkah presents this year. But, the most original and meaningful gift came from my parents in the form of a book. It's called Scribble & Grin: 53 Rhymes for Inspiring Times and it's written by Mary Giuffre and Paul L. Clark a dynamic couple with a mission to help kids feel better about themselves, cope with life's challenges, and learn the importance of kindness and self-love—all in a fun-loving, silly way. You know when you read nursery rhymes to your kids and wonder what exactly you're reading and why you're teaching kids about old women who live in shoes and spank their kids or giant eggs who fall off walls and can't be fixed? Well, this book is full of funny and clever rhymes that actually have very meaningful and important messages. The rhymes are great for little tots and older kids alike. The messages will grow with your children and you can choose relevant rhymes depending on what your kid is going through (i.e. bullying, stress, or a new baby sibling). Some are silly and some are serious. All are cleverly and creatively illustrated. I think this book should be part of every kid's home library and used in every classroom across the country too—it's just that good.

2. The gift of aromatherapy. 

My favourite discovery of 2013 is, hands-down, doTERRA essential oils. These therapeutic-grade oils are safe to use on kids and babies and are so pure that most can actually be ingested (think: Peppermint oil instead of coffee to give you a boost of energy!) The Family Physician Kit (the first set of oils I purchased and fell in love with) makes the perfect gift for a mom of small children. It includes Lavender which is incredibly calming (I apply it to my neck and shoulders before bed, drop it into my bath at night, and use on my daughter's feet at the end of a busy day); Deep Blue® amazing for sore, achy muscles from carrying heavy kids around all day; Breathe respiratory support to help clear stuffy, congested kids and mommies; and On Guard® to help fight nasty germs and support healthy immune function; among others! My other favourite oil right now is Wild Orange, mostly because the smell makes me really happy. Feeling like you need a bit more festivity in your life this season? Try the Holiday Joy Essential Oil Blend.

You can purchase doTERRA oils online at:

3. Brighten up someone's trip to the loo!

This year (while wearing my PR copywriter hat) I had the chance to write about Renova, a European paper products company that just launched in Canada (at Metro, Loblaws, and Wal Mart). Renova is known for its coloured toilet paper. That's right: pink, and blue, and green, and red, and black, and purple...the list goes on. So I've been thinking, when would someone use coloured toilet paper? Well, my 3 year old loves the pink stuff! It makes going to the bathroom so much fun for her. And, thanks to Renova's stylish packaging, I think red and green would make an awesome hostess gift for a Christmas party. Then there's the black TP, which would be super stylish for a New Year's Eve party. Renova paper is lightly scented, which makes me feel really fancy when I use it, and is totally safe and meets European environmental standards (which are quite strict). So, for the person who has everything, the kid who wants to have some fun on the potty, or the New Year's Eve party that needs a bit more pizzazz—I'd totally recommend Renova!

4. For teething tots—a necklace they can't break!

I found out about Chewbeads—stylish teething jewelry for moms—from a friend who is a new mommy. I looked them up online and knew I needed some ASAP! My 8-month-old is always grabbing my necklaces and trying to put them in her mouth. I knew she'd love something she could safely chew on, and I loved how fabulous they looked. I was thrilled when I found out that Toronto's Kidville, my new favourite place for music classes, was carrying them. Since getting my own grey strand, I've bought some for my mom in pink (to wear when she's helping me with the baby) and some green ones for another friend as a holiday gift. Now I kind of want them in every colour for me!

5. A sweet ride for mom and baby.

About a month ago I was given the opportunity to try out a swanky new stroller called the Stokke Scoot. I have three strollers already, but they've all been very well-used, and I was thrilled to try something new. I know...I only have two kids...but I really like to have choice! You know, when you need to take both kids for a long walk and the big kid is sure to get tired—you take the double stroller. When you're running out to the mall—you take the lightweight umbrella one. And now, when I go almost anywhere—I take the Scoot. Why? Because it's so easy to maneuver (think: public transit, tight department store aisles, busy restaurants), simple to fold up and put away, and comfy for my baby to ride, and snooze, in. I love that the handle has two positions, the seat can be forward or mommy-facing, and the cup holder is super-convenient. Plus, wherever I go, I'm always getting compliments on it because it's so darn stylish! If you're looking for a very special holiday gift, or a new baby gift, or a shower gift—if you know any expecting moms, or moms with new babies who might love a new stroller (like I did!)—I recommend, wholeheartedly, the Scoot. I really love mine in the Black Melange colour—but imagine how amazing a Red stroller would look under the Christmas tree?!


6. For anyone who deserves to be pampered.

For the past few years I've been swapping all of my bath and body products with less-harmful, more-natural alternatives. I'm always trying new brands and new stores. A few months ago I interviewed Ingrid, the owner of Clementine Fields, and was really impressed. She launched this online boutique, because after a scary cancer diagnosis she became obsessed with what she was putting on her skin and into her body. She discovered many beautiful lines of skincare and beauty products from the US that were harder to find in Canada; and some amazing Canadian products too. Once she started using them, people began asking for her recommendations. From her passion grew her business: a lovely online shop with so many fabulous products for women, men, and kids. Check out these awesome mom and baby gifts and sweet hostess gifts. I love Clementine Fields because, in a time when it seems everything is bad for you, you can shop with confidence knowing that what you're buying is safe.

Happy Shopping!