Now that we are full on into the holiday season, I thought this would be a good time to talk about parenting. Actually, what we are really talking about is how to maintain your sanity, especially if you have young kids in the house. (Even if you don't, I'm guessing some of these tips would work for the men in your life as well!)
It is never to early to use the Santa card to get your children to behave. Ryan is 8, so I'm wondering how much longer this will work in my house, but let me tell you, Noah snaps to the minute I even speak of Santa. The other day I went so far as to pick up my cell phone to call Santa, and you should have seen the look of pure panic on my child's face. It was priceless.
And that brings me to my second tip: fake phone calls are very effective in curbing unwanted behavior. Use this sparingly and only in the most dire circumstances, i.e. you think your head might actually explode any second.
Focus your child's energies on any number of holiday projects. Some of the things I prefer are decorating the house, making home-made decorations, cleaning your room (for Santa, obviously), making Christmas cards, any kind of baking (warning, baking with your children requires quite a bit of patience and latitude with recipes - not for the faint of heart or mind, but the kids love it), watching Polar Express (only allowed in our house between Thanksgiving and New Year's), dance party to Christmas music which is always pre-loaded in the CD player this time of year, coloring contests, vacuuming (for Santa, duh), and anything else that you can possible relate to Santa, Christmas, gift-giving or the holiday season.
When in doubt, take a mommy time-out. There are times when I just get overloaded, so I tell my kids I need a time-out. I go to my room and close my door and just chill for a few minutes. I don't do this very often, so they kind of get freaked out by it and it really seems to calm all of us.
It is hardly ever too cold to play outside. Send those children OUT! (Works great for husbands too!)
Do the unexpected. Sometimes when my kids are really acting up I almost think they are expecting me to get mad, so instead I scoop them up and give them a big hug and tell them how much I love them, even though they are not acting nicely. It usually works.
A walk almost always does everyone some good. It gets dark so early around here, you can go on a Christmas lights walk at 4:30 and still have a great time.
Did I say hot chocolate with whipped cream? The whipped cream must come out of a spray can and it is obligatory to have a spray straight into the mouth for everyone, including mommy.
Try to remember what it was like to be a kid at Christmas. You didn't worry about getting all of the gifts bought and wrapped. You weren't stressed about getting the house decorated just right, or finding the perfect tree. You didn't have to balance work and family and holiday parties and more. When you are a kid, Christmas is that amazing time of year that we look forward to, that is so special you can't even describe how it makes you feel. Remember that and try to make it just as special for your family. Hold onto the beauty and magic and let it be just as special for you!
If all else fails, you can always threaten them with kid jail ...