How to Survive a Holiday Visit Home (with a baby).

Guess what? If you’re reading this, you’ve survived the holidays (or at least most of them). Congratulations! I think you deserve a pat on the back. We all do.

I, of course, spent the holidays in Detroit. With my family. Allllll of my family. Complete with two sets of moms and dads, various siblings, their children and even a great grandparent or two. Which was lovely. Also, stressful, emotionally draining and exhausting.

But I got through it with my smile (mostly) intact. Want to know my secret? I’ve got ten of them.

When traveling with a nine-month-old, bring ear plugs. Last time we went home, Tori was still at the stage where she (mercifully) slept a lot. Not so much anymore. And, let me assure you, she was not pleased with the seating arrangement. Which she vocalized with the most obnoxious of screams. For hours at a stretch. Luckily, our radio is quite loud (it almost drowned them out). Next time, there will be ear plugs.

When someone asks you if you want a glass of wine, accept. Ah, alcohol. It takes the edge off, doesn’t it? It also makes it easier to ignore insults and feign interest. Errr, just as an example.

When in situations where openly drinking isn’t appropriate, switch to “pop.” This is something I learned from a more experienced pair of parents. See, cola can hide a multitude of alcoholic lubricants, all of which make anything more fun. But the other relatives? Will just think you’re exceptionally glad to see them.

When celebrating Christmas with a multitude of children, bring wire cutters.  Nothing can change excited giggles to frustrated screams faster than an overly well packaged toy. Enter wire cutters, the instant liberator. They made my husband the most popular man in the room.

When celebrating Christmas with an infant, lower expectations.  Everyone was excited to see Tori open her gifts. Everyone, that is, except for Tori. She really didn’t get what the fuss was about. Didn’t even want to rip the paper. Eat the paper, sure. But not rip it. I’m pretty sure her lack of interest frustrated a lot of folks. But I? Thoroughly enjoyed opening all those extra gifts.

When sleeping in a strange bed, remember you might need help getting to dreamland.  My best friends of the past week? Tylenol PM and Benadryl. No matter what the day had dished out, those little helpers made sure I was able to make my way to dreamland without first spending hours rehashing events.

When at the mercy of other people’s cooking, remember the scale will eventually forgive you.  Sure, I may have eaten more calories in the last week than I usually consume in a month. But it was all in the name of family togetherness, so my waistline had to suffer. The scale? Deserves a holiday too.

When surrounded by free babysitters, remember to take advantage of it.  You know what I did this week? I spent more than two hours inside a single shoe store (DSW, I heart you). Obviously, I did not have a baby in tow. With two sets of doting grandparents within minutes of each other, Brian and I actually got to spend some quality time together. Without baby. It was almost enough to make me want to move home…almost.

When traveling during the winter months, remember to be flexible.  We were all set to come home on Monday. The car was packed, the kid was secured, and the dog was tied in. But winter? She had other plans. After seeing the highway was down to ruts, we turned around, going into the Holiday Visit Bonus Round.

When you finally get home, remember to appreciate the silence.  Sure, it might seem a little  quiet at first. A little lonely. But it’s home. And in no time at all, you’ll be back to dreading the next trip to the Motherland.

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