The holidays are truly a magical time, especially when you are able to spend them with family — for that same reason they can be stressful with kids. I always find it challenging to maintain discipline during the holidays. The kids are excited about Santa and presents and seeing the family, the aunts and uncles are feeding them snacks all day and letting them have entire cans of soda and bedtime is a nightmare because we are 2 or 3 hours off our normal time. And when the meltdown comes, it comes with a fury and the aunties and uncles are either nowhere to be found or they are giving me those “looks” or my favorite, the “head shake and hmmph” as if they have no idea how this tantrum could possibly be happening.
Last fall at a family dinner, my kids were having a hard time sitting in their seats while we were waiting for dinner. My sister was becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation and finally, I heard her mutter loud enough for me to hear, “I believe in traditional discipline.” I took a long drink of my brandy old fashioned, took the kids outside for a walk and started thinking about “traditional discipline.”
I also believed in “traditional discipline” before I had kids. It’s a very simple concept — you tell the kids what to do and they do it. And then you actually have your own children and realize that it is much more complicated. It did get me thinking though about how my parents handled the going-out-to-dinner scenario. I grew up in Wisconsin and every Friday we went out to dinner for fish at a local restaurant. My parents let me order kiddy cocktails, aka Shirley Temples, and my Dad gave me quarters to play pinball — I loved going out to dinner! When the food was ready, it was set on the table and we all sat down and ate together. I never had to sit at the table for an hour and entertain myself before I ate dinner.
This Christmas we will visit my in-laws in Ohio. I already know the drill; much time will be spent thinking about food — where we’ll eat, when we’ll eat and how we’ll entertain the kids during all this eating. Their house also has many pieces of art as well as some medieval weaponry that my son has yet to discover. While it may not sound very kid-friendly, two years ago we went home to a purple Christmas tree with life-sized circus animals around it (the zebra and the six-foot penguin are still there!) which the grandkids attempted to ride at every opportunity. There are some situations that you cannot control and this holiday will be one of them for me. Instead of getting stressed out because the kids are still up at 9 pm or that grandpa is giving them chocolate I will employ some “traditional discipline” to get me through it. That may mean kiddy cocktails and quarters for the kids and a few glassed of holiday cheer for me! Enjoy your holidays!