A good plan goes along way!
I am a mother of four sons and at one time I had a newborn, a toddler, and two teens under the same roof! It was school break for the holidays and I was feeling overwhelmed! I didn't plan out anything and just took their school break in stride (at least at first.) But things quickly changed when I decided a day or two in advance, I would be preparing Thanksgiving dinner while breast feeding a newborn and attempting to keep the other boys busy with activities!
Before long, hours went by and the sun was setting before anyone was fed that year! I learned the hard way that spontaneous decisions don't work when you have children especially during school breaks. Days of loud noises, sporadic requests of wanting to go outside, crying spells, fighting etc. and I was the ring leader of a circus that had never been in control! So I would stop something to do something else and participate in chores "when I felt like it." Oh spontaneous living at its best with no plan in site!
You too may have gotten away with this sort of thing in the past back when you were single and without children, but once the family life arrives, you find yourself attempting to plan on some days and play it by ear on other days! This doesn't work long term and eventually it affects how you and your partner relate to one another. You are trying to have a simple conversation and out of no where a ball is flying, someone is grabbing your leg, and another is yelling, "Mom...mom!?"
So you know that the holiday breaks are coming, ask yourself, "What is the first thing I should be doing in order to plan for my childrens' school break? Begin listing what you will be doing with the children, what they will be doing without little assistance, and when will you get some needed me time. Start penning your thoughts. Then add days and times to them. Post their activities in public view, so that everyone in the household is aware. Ask a spouse to help out with supervision, errands, and chores. Talk with he or she about consequences for your trouble-makers.
As for those little ones, who can't do nothing more than coo and cry, well be sure you have all needed supplies so that you don't have to make so many trips with children in tote to stores to buy baby food, diapers, wipes, etc.
Call on family, friends or a babysitter when you feel so overwhelmed you can't see straight! Never feel obligated to pay someone back when you know you can't (that will only contribute to your stress levels.) Let the person know in advance, "I can't give you anything for your deed, but a "thank you." This way they won't be expecting you to do anything special for them. However, when things look better financially, do send them a token of your appreciation.
Holiday breaks with children don't have to be challenging unless you are going into them without a plan, so get as much accomplished before the school break, then take a deep breath once the children are back in school again!
Nicholl McGuire is the author of Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate, Laboring to Love Myself and When Mothers Cry.