beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

Winter Break Begins: Five Essential Survival Skills for Moms & Dads

Today, winter break is finally, really, truly here.

Oh, yes. I fully realize that my kids thought that their two-week break started after school last Friday. But this mama didn’t have to come to terms with the reality of the situation until today, until this morning, when, instead of running around like a herd of banshees scurrying to get ready for work and school, we ran around like a herd of banshees grabbing at art supplies, Wii controllers, and bags of fruit loops.

I spent the weekend fantasizing that my kids’ teachers were busy preparing to spend the coming week with my little angels. That, on Monday, there would be the usual army of bus drivers waiting just outside our door to take our kids to do organized, thoughtful, supervised activities. That my children were going to spend hours and hours in a quality learning environment today instead of beginning two solid weeks of massive electronics-induced brain-rot.

This morning, I realized that the usual army’s not coming. Egads, people! We’re on our own!

I’m quite positive that my kids’ teachers are grieving today because they just realized that they will have to wait two incredibly long weeks (plus 10 hours and 43 minutes, but who’s counting?) to see my kiddos again. Don’t let the enormous “#1 Teacher!” mugs full of hot buttered rum in their hands or the sloppy, satisfied smiles on their faces fool you; teachers all across the nation are very, very sad right now.

As for my family, we’re woefully unprepared for winter break. You know that scene from Mary Poppins when everyone prepares for the neighbor’s cannon fire by rushing to grab everything that’s not nailed down before the house is battered by a powerful shock-wave and shaken to its core? That’s pretty much exactly what we need to do to prepare for school vacations. Batten down the hatches! Stations, everyone! Someone secure the china! Everyone else HOLD ON!

Already, we’re taking casualties in the form of dishware. In fact, if we keep up our current rate of loss, we’ll end this holiday with 17 fewer pieces of dishware than when we started. The SANTA-IS-COMING excitement is running high. So high, it’s bouncing off of my ottoman and right onto my dinner plates. (FYI, I find it’s best not to ask why the plates were on the ottoman. Knowledge tends to require some kind of action on my part.) Let’s be honest; if the rest of my plates make it through the next two weeks, we’re marking that in the Christmas Miracles column ’cause I’m pretty sure it’s right up there with the Virgin Birth on the Events Most Likely to Astonish a Crowd list.

The plates taught me something, though; I need to fix this whole unpreparedness problem. So I turned to my close friend, Google, to ask her a few questions. But I must’ve had some kind of subconscious glitch caused by a recent conversation with my friend Amy during which she advised me to never run when faced with rabid children because they will chase you. Because when I meant to type “school break survival,” I accidentally typed “wilderness survival” and also “what to do when staring down a pack of vicious predators.” Whoops! I’d say it was the WORST TYPO EVER, except that the information was brilliant. (You go, Google!) As always, I will share my new-found knowledge with you because, well, if this blog can save just one life…

What To Do When Faced with Dangerous Animals Children on Holiday:
Five Essential Survival Skills

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Large piles of scat are ample evidence that an animal a child is near. Remove yourself from the area immediately (before the other parent finds out that you saw it first and forces you to follow the ” the finder’s the cleaner” rule).
  2. Never run from predators children: a) they will instinctively give chase, b) they are faster and have more stamina than you, and c) you will be mauled when they inevitably catch you. Instead, stand very still, and make no sudden movements.
  3. Don’t ever enter a wild animal’s habitat child’s room alone. When headed into the wilderness, take a companion with you and make sure someone on the outside knows exactly where you’re going, when you expect to return, and which authorities to contact if you fail to check in on time.
  4. The keeping and training wild beasts is for professionals only. You might be tempted to take one home because they’re cute when they’re small, but they will grow up, they don’t know their own strength, and they will eat you for dinner.
  5. If you sense an attack is imminent, curl into a ball, put your head down, shield your neck with your hands, and protect your vital organs. Stay calm, and don’t cry out. Hope desperately that they’ll walk away and leave you for dead.

Alright, fine. I kid. (Although, sadly, not about the plates.)

The truth is, the SANTA-IS-COMING excitement is running high, and it’s this mama who’s leading the charge. You guys, I’m just so thrilled to spend the next week in joyful anticipation, and I can’t wait to make buckets of hot chocolate, pans of cinnamon rolls, and one hundred thousand messes. I can wait to break up Wii fights, wipe the smeared hineys, and try to soak up milk with my nonabsorbent kitchen towels faster than it can make its way through my couch cushions… but who cares? Now that I have my survival skills – and my plates – firmly in hand, I AM READY. And, if one or two of those items goes missing along the way, well then, that’s how the plate (and my sanity) crumbles. C’est la vie!

Here’s wishing you a brilliant beginning to Christmas week,


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9 responses to “Winter Break Begins: Five Essential Survival Skills for Moms & Dads”

  1. I hope you have survived the break thus far (with no more breaks either!). I just have a random comment… I really hate towels that don’t soak up water, but I discovered somewhere that if you use fabric softener (at all) your towels don’t absorb. So whether you put it in the washer or the dryer (or perhaps none at all! 😉 don’t use it on your towels and it should help!

  2. In all the middle of your wilderness this Christmas break. Say to yourself over and over ” one day I will miss this. One day I WILL miss this. “

    • I SO believe you! Once upon a time, I was a frazzled mom to one kid (which is why I ALWAYS tell moms that ANY number of kids is a lot of kids!) and I would’ve struggled to believe you. But I had 8 years before my youngest two were born, and I’ve learned to my core that, while the days are long, the years FLY by. Thanks for this precious reminder to cherish the moments we have NOW.


  3. Okay. Our break doesn’t start for another day and I have to say I was DREADING it. With the house full of day care kids M-F and then the thought of my own 5 kids stuffed back in here for a whole two weeks … well, just the thought makes me want to run for the hills!!! BUT, your post gives me a new perspective and renewed strength not to sweat the small stuff and there is nothing that will happen that a check can’t fix. My husband might not be too happy with that line of thinking but what does he know, he’s at work! At any rate, I am resolved to enjoy the holidays more, be in the moment and not stress about the dishes in the sink, on the ottoman and in the bathroom. Thanks Beth and Merry Messy Christmas to you!

  4. Oh yeah! Your house sounds like mine…Christmas Spirit and excitement is in full swing! I’ve been enjoying it and soaking it all in. This is the first time in a long time that I AM excited about Christmas and I’m baking up a storm, watching all the movies, laughing and making messes with the kids too! And of course, loading up on the sugar just as much as they are! I with you and your family and all the other families love and light this Christmas!

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