Monday, December 27, 2010

Can’t Find a Baby-Sitter on New Year's Eve? No Worries!

Every year since we had kids, my husband and I look at each other as New Year’s Eve rolls around and say, “What are we going to do this year?” It’s become a holiday we look forward to see come and go because it is so hard to find a baby-sitter. What usually ends up happening is we put the kids to bed and try to stay up and watch the ball drop on TV, but rarely do we actually make it to midnight. (Kind of sad, huh? We know other parents out there can relate!)

How can you celebrate New Year’s Eve once you have kids? What are some fun things you can do if you find yourself without a baby-sitter (again)?

- Find other couple friends who have kids and team up to celebrate the New Year. Let the kids all play together while you to enjoy adult conversation. Celebrate New Year’s Eve before the children go to bed. Do a countdown early and let the kids have New Year’s hats and noisemakers.

- Start a new family tradition. Pick a (family-friendly) restaurant to go to each New Year’s Eve. Dress up and celebrate the holiday by having dinner out together. Only go to the restaurant on New Year’s Eve so it becomes a special place for your whole family.

- Celebrate “Noon Year’s Eve” instead of New Year’s Eve. Host a party at your house for friends and family and do a big lunch for everyone. Count down at noon instead of midnight and you’ll feel like you celebrated enough by the time midnight actually rolls around. Don’t forget to give your spouse a Noon Year’s Eve kiss at the stroke of noon!

- Create a time capsule on New Year’s Eve with your family. Fill a shoebox up with pictures and mementos from the past year. Talk about your favorite memories from the year and then bury your time capsule in the backyard.

- Find a local community event that is kid-friendly. Many towns and cities have “First Night” events that are alcohol free, low-cost, and fun for the whole family.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

'Tis the Season to be...Stressed?!?!

Hello everyone! So sorry it has been two weeks since I have posted a blog entry. But like a lot of you out there, our family has been in the throes of the holiday season. Parties, events, shopping…you name it, we have been busy doing it!

While the holiday season can bring visions of sugarplums, it can also bring tired feet, overwhelming anxiety and dread. If you are feeling this way, then it is time to SLOW DOWN! (In all honesty, I am giving myself this advice. Maybe it will help someone else out there, too.)

It’s hard to be a good parent when you are feeling stressed out. And I firmly believe the old saying…happy mother makes for happy children. So mamas, instead of focusing on the kids in this week's blog entry...this one is for you!

How To Beat the Holidays Blues

If the mercury level on your stress-o-meter is rising, you’re not alone. According to the National Mental Health Association, more than 17 million Americans experience some form of depression and anxiety during the holidays. Women tend to feel more of the “holiday blues” because we typically bear a greater burden during the season. The ladies tend to be the ones spearheading the holiday shopping, planning, and schedules.

Stress increases in so many of us around the holidays because of unrealistic expectations, financial hardships, and sometimes, due to the colder weather, a little bit of cabin fever.

Here are some tips on how to deal with competing demands of the holidays.

Plan ahead.
During the holiday season, your social calendar can go into overdrive. Try downshifting to a more manageable schedule.

Get a separate calendar and organize all your seasonal activities. Be sure to allot time for decorating, holiday cooking and shopping, as well as annual get-togethers. This will help prevent you from over-committing.

Before agreeing to a new commitment, check your calendar and see if it is feasible. Remember, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation.

Stick to a budget.
Make a budget for your gift giving and stick to it. While the holidays are about giving, they aren’t about breaking the bank. Shop early for bargains and to avoid crunch-time crowds.

People fall into the trap of spending a lot of money on a gift to express how they feel. A homemade gift can show how you feel about someone just as much, if not more, than a more expensive gift. These are often more personal and appreciated.

Take care of your body.
The holidays are an emotional and eventful time, so it is vital to make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right and scheduling downtime for yourself.

Just because Santa enjoys milk and cookies at all of his holiday stops doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Try to cut back on holiday eating and drinking. When faced with a table of holiday treats, be selective and take small portions.

Be flexible.
Keep traditions and family gatherings simple. As families grow and change, so do your holiday traditions. Be flexible, embrace change and keep in mind that being together is more important than keeping family customs.

Stepfamilies will want to discuss holiday schedules ahead of time to avoid confusion and stress during the holidays. This way, all family members can plan ahead and know what to expect.

Don’t expect perfection.
Hallmark cards may portray holiday harmony, but in reality, there is no such thing as a perfect holiday season.

In reality, your relatives may argue, your eggnog may sour and your Christmas party may be less than perfect. Just remember that a positive attitude, forgiveness and a sense of humor go a long way during the holidays.

Don’t become another victim of seasonal stress. By taking care of yourself and managing expectations this yuletide season, you, too, can have stress-free holidays. Your kids will thank you for it!