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By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Christmas in Chicago

Uploaded: Jan 6, 2018
This year our family celebrated a white Christmas in Chicago. Our two older kids were so excited to see snow that they immediately ran around and made snow angels in front of our hotel when we arrived. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I saw them all bundled up, covered in snow, and smiling. Maybe our kids would genuinely enjoy a white Christmas.

It was wonderful to spend quality time with many relatives over Christmas. But, it was also much more tiring then I anticipated. Even with our extended family taking care of most meals. Even with relatives continuously jumping in to give our kids lots of attention. Even with everyone doing everything they could to make our vacation as enjoyable as possible, it felt far from a relaxing vacation.

Recently I've read a lot about the mental workload of motherhood. And I definitely experienced a much heavier than usual mental workload this Christmas. Rather than just relax and let the holiday unfold, I tried to stay one step ahead of our kids. I wanted our kids and our relatives to both fill the end the year with many positive memories. I packed extra outfits, snacks, and toys. I tried to feed our kids before they were too hungry. I tried to get our kids outside to play in the snow before they became too antsy indoors. I waited until baby was content and well fed before offering her to someone else. I mentally ran through each of our kids "must do lists"- conducting science experiments with grandma, baking cookies with their aunt and doing sticker books with their uncle, a trip to the Field Museum - and I tried to find the best time to do each one. I took lots of photos. I reminded our kids to say please and thank you. I tried to keep track of all of our toys - hot wheels that accidentally vroomed under beds, Lego pieces that fell off tables, and a handful of special stuffed animals and blankets. I attempted to keep track of where we packed medications, extra sweaters, thank you notes, sticker books, and everything else we lugged with us all the way from California.

I'm not sure where we will celebrate Christmas next year. But if we travel to relatives again I'm going to try to let go of some of this extra mental load. We might accidentally leave a hot wheel or two under the hotel bed and we might accidentally forget a stuffed animal at great grandma's. But next year I hope to spend less time managing our kids (and all of our stuff) and spend more time celebrating. Maybe the next time we fly to Chicago for Christmas I can spend a bit more time sitting, relaxing, and enjoying some wine and conversation with the adults in our extended family - something that I should have made more of a priority this year.
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Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jan 7, 2018 at 8:37 am

We only went away for Christmas with our young children once. It was pretty much a disaster. They felt they missed out on their own Christmas and had nowhere near as many gifts as their cousins. The fact that we told them they had more at home when they got back home didn't make a difference. The fact that our eldest wanted a two wheeler bike (which was waiting at home) and was very disappointed although did a very good job of not showing it, meant that we felt like the bad guys.

Christmas at home from now on for us.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 7, 2018 at 11:24 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Yes, presents made Christmas a bit tricky for us too. I also didn't want to bring their gifts with us. We ended up giving our kids their Christmas gifts from us about a week early. While they enjoyed opening their gifts and playing with them for the week before Christmas, it didn't feel like Christmas Day. We still had a class to attend that morning and school the following week.

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