When did the holidays get so stressful? Oh, I remember — when I had children. A recent Care.com survey says I’m not alone: moms are most stressed over the holidays.
Here’s a little (funny!) glimpse at what holidays look like for couples pre-and-post children.
Non-parents: Stroll shops leisurely, stop in to try on dresses for yourself. There are bound to be fun parties you’ll need at least three new dresses for. And don’t forget new shoes. Budget is limitless. Time is ample. Focus on finding the perfect gift for your spouse, parents, in-laws, nieces and nephews. Take everything home and spread it out in a room designated for gift-wrapping for the next few weeks. Wrap gifts elaborately one by one while watching The Bachelor and other shows not on Nick Jr. Ship or hand deliver each gift a week before its needed. Later question why the sweater and cords you bought your nephew weren’t his favorite present. It legitimately boggles your mind that kids don’t love clothes as presents.
Parents: Who wants gift cards?! All items limited to what the drug store sells or can be bought online. Find special “Santa” paper and hide it under your bed. Once Santa’s presents arrive, throw the paper on top of it. Santa is not meticulous. Then your partner finds the “Santa” paper and wraps all his presents in it too. Curse his/her name. Spend another night unwrapping and decide that “Santa doesn’t wrap presents.” Do this all without realizing that you’ve been watching a Dora marathon for three hours straight.
Non-parents: Bacon wrapped dates hand-stuffed with blue cheese and almonds are your specialty. But you’re also perfecting a homemade coconut macaroon, dipped in chocolate.
Parents: You’re hosting and have assigned each dish to a family member or the grocery store hot buffet section. Hopefully no one brings those damn stuffed dates again. Kids don’t eat blue cheese or almonds — and all apps need to serve as kid dinner.
Non-parents: If you get one more card with cute kids on it, you might scream. You’ve never met these kids. Where are the parents — the people you actually know?! Next year, vow to send out pics of your dog.
Parents: Spend a small fortune getting professional photos. Oh no! How in the world did you get 200 prints and NOT ONE has all kids smiling? Photoshop happy faces on all kids and mail out to 150 of your closest friends.
Non-parents: It’s so romantic. Spend hours decorating the house. Take pictures and post on Instagram. Snapchat funny ones to your friends. Eat dinner under the glow of holiday lights.
Parents: Kids wouldn’t leave Home Depot without that hideous blowup Snoopy Santa. Now it’s on your front yard. They decorated the tree and you must wait for post-bedtime to re-disperse all the tinsel and ornaments from the bottom front. And then tell them that the Elf on the Shelf did it.
Holiday Party Hopping
Non-parents: The more the better. Have too many cocktails, leave the car and Uber home. Sleep til 2p.m the next day and do it all over again.
Parents: Damn the person who sends the next holiday invite. Prioritize parties in terms of “Must Attend as Couple,” “Can Attend Solo,” and “We’ll Go if Evite Guest List Looks Fun Enough.” Send mass text to all babysitters you have in contacts. Beg, borrow and steal friends’ sitters when necessary. Swear you had no idea she was their favorite sitter. Flip for who has to drive home, since that person will also have to get up with the kids at 6 a.m the next day. Curse your partner for winning the coin flip.
Non-parents: Feels pretty romantic to light your menorah each night and reflect in the meaning of the holiday. Test your new gourmet recipe for potato pancakes and make homemade applesauce to go with them. Hide 8 gifts around the house, all with meaning as to when you first met and fell in love. Toast to maybe having kids one day while promising each other you’ll always celebrate the holiday, cherishing your relationship’s roots.
Parents 8 presents for EACH kid? That’s a small fortune. Rope in grandparents for Nights 5-8. Light first candle together and say the blessings. Talk about the meaning of the holiday.. Throw some frozen potato pancakes in the microwave, followed immediately by a tray of chicken tenders because the kids HATE potato pancakes. Nights 2-8, avoid burning down the house while lighting the candles. Try to squeeze a blessing while kids are tearing off paper. Sing/yell “Oh dreidel dreidel dreidel” over sound of battery operated toys and squeals of delight.
Non-parents: Wake up in each other’s arms at your childhood home, getting a little frisky in your full-sized bed. Before rolling out for brunch, you exchange “special” presents privately, and then plan your coordinating festive wear. Give and receive presents casually for the rest of the morning and afternoon, and spend the rest of the day assembling the new (completely un-childproofed) wine cabinet you got.
Parents: Awake at 3 a.m. Your daughter is certain that Santa woke her up and it’s time to go downstairs. Assure/beg her it’s not time yet. “Sleep” in toddler-sized bed just to make her get a few more minutes of shut-eye. Wake at 5 to the whole house buzzing with excitement. Try to hide under Princess comforter, but your feet are cold… it’s only 3-feet long. Suck it up and devote the rest of the day to joyful giving… Until you realize you didn’t buy anything for your partner. That’s okay. He/she forgot you too. Clink cups of coffee and watch all that gift analyzing/stressing/buying/wrapping/hiding/not-forgetting-where-you-hid-it get torn to shreds in 15 minutes. Sit in shock at 5:45 a.m. when the kids ask “Now what?”
New Years Eve
Non-parents: Party is a verb…an awesome verb.
Parents: Party is a noun…a dreaded noun.
It’s incredible how stressful and joyous the holidays can be, all at once. But come January, we’ve survived and are better for it. And it’s possible (just maybe), that as the years have passed, my recollection of pre-kids holidays has become a little more fabulous than they really were. That’s OK. As parents, we know these years are flying by and soon we’ll be begging our kids not to spend your favorite holiday at their girlfriend’s parents’ house….and memories of the time the Elf on the Shelf fell in the fireplace will seem fabulous (or at least funny) too. Or maybe that’s just me. Happy Holidays, Care.com readers – and remember to lean on housekeepers and babysitters for all your holidays needs.