4 ways to survive family milestones

The month of June is crazy for us.  We have my husband’s birthday, Annabelle’s birthday, our second anniversary, and Father’s Day (while not really a milestone, it’s fun to throw into the mix).  On top of that, we were gone for two weeks  on a beach vacation.  To help cope with the busy schedule, the first thing I did was to reintroduce coffee back into my life (add another milestone!) and picked up a few new tricks along the way.

1.  Sometimes, it’s okay to have a low key birthday for the adults

We started June off with a trip to Florida for two weeks.  My SIL (husband’s sister) would be meeting us for the second week with her three boys.  I was excited for Annabelle and she had a few more big “firsts” such as getting to hang out with her cousins, first time in the ocean and walking on sand.  I was looking forward to taking naps and leisurely reading some books that are collecting dust on my nightstand.  I found out very quickly that ‘leisurely’ was not a word I would use to describe my vacation.  I had an awakening, the same kind of awakening I had just after having a baby and thinking, “I had heard this was going to be work, but this is hard work!”   Without her normal playdates, toys, and food that we have around, I had to recreate diversions and stick to her nap routine so she didn’t get too grumpy or sick.  In all fairness, the hubby helped and did a great job when he did help, but for some reason he thinks we split the baby duties in half (um?). 

The first time we went into the ocean, Bill held her. The waves would come and we tried to keep the water out of her face, but sometimes it happens (it’s the ocean and that’s life).  She cried.  Instead of rushing back to shore, we stayed in the water and lifted her up everytime a wave came.  Most of the time we were successful, but sometimes the waves splashed on her face.  (This attitude is a major shift for me because the first time we went to Costco and she didn’t stop screaming and we went home).  By the end of the vacation, she was smiling in the water and splashing with her arms and kicking her feet trying to swim.  Because of all these new things with Annabelle and me ‘relearning’ what a vacation WITH KIDS really was, Bill’s birthday really sucked.  We sang Happy Birthday to him at Cold Stone creamery.  I didn’t even get him a card, but I did get him a subscription to the Economist.  I’m low on mommy guilt, but the hubby guilt was quite high.

2.  Get over the guilt, make up (out?), and move on

In the book, Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, Dr.  Medina points out that the marriage is a key factor to having emotionally and morally smart kids.  I also have this book called the The 10 Second Kiss.  Basically, it says that if you want to resolve problems with your spouse, to start off by kissing that person for ten seconds.  It’s surprising how well it works.  Of course, we still have to do the real work in a marriage such as communicating, but the 10 second kiss makes it so much better.  I felt more like his wife and not some cliche neurotic housewife.   I combined the kiss with a card and made his favorite dinner and the hubby was feeling much, much better about his birthday.

3.  Convenience is King, pay for it if you must

When my SIL arrived at the beach house, she said we are not cooking dinner and I plan to eat out for every meal, except breakfast.  Her reasoning?  “I’m on vacation and I am not doing dishes or cleaning up, I want a vacation too.”  I liked it.  One place we went to, a family joint that served pizza, Annabelle was trying out her loud voice, we assumed she was trying to be louder than the din of the restaurant.  We try really hard to lower her voice, using a quiet sing song voice or shhhhh, but it doesn’t always work.  A woman approached our table and asked us to keep the baby quiet.  My husband’s response was that he got loud with her, proving that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.  I was embarassed at first, because I would have acquiesced and tried to make light of the situation.  Then I realized how proud I was of my husband.  I loved that he stuck up for us and for the family.  The woman continued her rant and actually said new parents should NOT leave the house for two years, or until the child could behave her voice in public.  Whatever.  That’s messed up.  Anyways, I love the fact that we ate out every lunch and dinner.  Yes, I will even suffer the occasional crazy person to avoid doing the dishes.

4.  Bribe your immediate family to come visit

Annabelle’s Grandma & Grandpa are always willing to come out and help us, but if she isn’t, you may want to bribe her to come visit, but only if they are going to help out.  Many grandparents these days have an attitude of “I’ve already done my time”, but maybe it’s time to heal old wounds and build new relationships.  Bribing (paying for thier ticket or hotel) may be a good way to get things going in the right direction.  Annabelle’s Grandma and Grandpa were AMAZING at her first birthday, they held her hand when she wanted to walk around, gave her over to other people, kept her hydrated, and fed her as needed.  My Mom helped me with feeding everyone and cleaning, they were so wonderful.  When it came time to light the candles for the cake, Grandma was right there with the camera.  Grandpa was over at the barbecue with my hubby and they made sure all the guests were well fed with some stellar roasting of burgers, hot dogs, and brats.  If you can’t get your immediate family to help, reach out to someone in your social or family circle who will help!  I would probably even hire the local babysitter to come and help out if I couldn’t find someone.

5.  Mommy guilt is only in your mind

I kept wondering, if the grandparents were not so awesome and I had no one to help, would I hire a babysitter for the day?  Before June, I would have said no, that wouldn’t seem right.  After experiencing mass chaos these last 30 days, I would advise someone to do what they needed to do to keep sane because either way, the guilt will get you.  If you have no help, you won’t enjoy it and will probably feel guilty for not being able to “do it all”.  If you hire help (babysitter/nanny), then you may feel guilty that you are not spending every single second with your kid.   So really it comes down to picking a guilt you can live with, realizing it’s a normal feeling and then getting over it.  Trust me, Annabelle was happy and in fact preferred hanging out with different people besides me (which I sort of have mixed feelings about).  If you are still having trouble getting over guilt, try reading these articles from Parenting or Baby Center.

At the end of month, we all survived.  I had a great time at the beach with everyone and it was very cool to hear Annabelle squeal with excitement in the ocean and to see her smile when she dug into the frosting of her birthday cake.  Next year, I’ll be a little bit more prepared and the milestone month of June will go a little more smoother, at least in my mind.  What do you do to handle the busy schedule and all the forms of guilt that come with being a Mom?


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