On the twelfth day of Christmas vacation, my family sent to me
Twelve snacks served daily
Eleven whiny demands
Ten wicked tantrums
Nine loads of laundry
Eight spills a-spilling
Seven rowdy neighbours
Six frantic deadlines
Five Mommy meltdowns
Four broken Wii remotes
Three Advil Liqui-Gels
Two squabbling children
And an audience to watch while I pee
The gifts have been unwrapped, the big meal is over and there are lots of new toys to play with. There are also sugared-up kids floundering without the routine of school, pine needles sticking to the bottom of your feet and bags of wrapping paper and semi-deconstructed boxes everywhere you turn.
My friend and I actually started planning for this months ago. We were both legitimately dreading the 12-day stint when the kids would all be home from school.
(If you savour this time with your children and think we’re heartless parents, you might want to stop reading now. Everyone who’s in favour of a parental advent calendar that counts down to Jan. 3 — the glorious restart of school — we’re totally on the same page).
My friend felt equally unsettled when she saw how long Christmas vacation was going to be.
(In our defense, we’re both self-employed and work from home. Having three kids running between our two houses does not a good work environment make.)
She started planning early and bought a secondhand TV for her basement so the kids (hers and mine) would have a more secluded spot to play Wii during those 12 long days. She is a very smart woman.
We also decided to buy the kids memberships to a new video game loft that just opened in town. We sat on a leather couch in the lobby, on that very first night, and agreed this place would be essential to maintaining our sanity during Christmas vacation.
Of course, it won’t be video-game-palooza the whole time. There will be healthy doses of Christmas movies, cartoons, Netflix exploration, etc.
Oh, and fresh air! Yes, sometimes we will kick those little bums outside and demand they run around in the snow (or the stiff frosty grass, whichever we have).
We’re going to trade off, too — keeping each other’s kids so we can each have quiet blocks of time to work (or eat the rest of the After Eights all alone).
Teachers certainly deserve a break at this time of year, so it helps to reframe Christmas vacation as a gift to them.
We’ll do our best to be patient and get through the days until school starts again. That first day of complete peace and quiet, after you’ve dropped them at the bus stop? Now that’s truly a vacation!