Thursday, December 4, 2014

Plan B. Or maybe we're on to C by now.

Today was my day. Three kids skiing with Jim and one kid at home meant that I was going to make things happen. Those boxes loitering in the school room were going to be unpacked and vanquished to their rightful home in the garage. The baby and I were going to lay on the floor and play and toss balls back and forth and read a few books together. The empty fridge would be filled with mostly healthy, mostly yummy meals after I wrote out our list and shopped. The cloth diapers would be laundered and, if I was really shooting the moon, folded and put away. OK, I might be getting carried away with that putting away business. That's not my specialty.

Instead there's a boy on my couch who loves snowboarding more than almost anything, but his head and tummy hurt so bad he said he needed to stay home. That's when you know it's bad. He gets sick so rarely that he doesn't quite know what to do with himself. So he sits on the couch, blanket covering his long-legged body, refusing to eat in case it makes him puke, gladly accepting shoulder and temple rubs, yawning the exhausted yawn of a growing boy who doesn't feel well.
Plan B. Rub back. Offer food and drink. Try to minimize toddler screeching. See if he feels well enough for me to go to the grocery store since the fridge and pantry are not well-stocked and offer nothing in the way of meal making. Help my baby, the one who is sick, not the actual baby baby.

It reminds me of a book I read a few years ago called Simplicity Parenting. When kids are physically ill we strip away all of the extras of life. We don't send them to school and we don't go to birthday parties. We don't expect them to do their chores and we don't have them stay up late. We snuggle under blankets on the couch. We read books or watch movies together. We tell stories. We reconnect in a way unique to sick kids and their parents.

A quiet hug after decorating the house for Christmas

setting up our Nativity scenes
We need to do the same when our kids are stressed and overwhelmed with life. This happens a lot during the holidays with a change in sleep, eating, and scheduling due to informal get-togethers and fancy parties, visiting Santa and going caroling, cookie exchanges and late nights looking at Christmas lights. So often we expect them to soldier on and behave and comply. So often that is unrealistic at best and sometimes just plain impossible. They are tired and overwhelmed and craving quiet. Kids are in charge of so few aspects of their lives. Their grown-ups are in charge of their schedules and if we don't account for their needs, life can get pretty miserable pretty quickly.
I wish my son weren't sick. I wish he were enjoying a day on the slopes. But he isn't. So we're here, stripping away all of the extras. I'm using this as a reminder for the rest of the holiday season as well. Sometimes we just need to step back and say no and give our kids and ourselves the quiet we crave.

Happy loud, boisterous, quiet, simple holidays to you. What do you do to make sure you and/or your kids don't get totally overwhelmed with all of the hoopla of the season?

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