The Holiday Hangover

When I was a kid, the holidays always meant it was time to pack up and hit the road. We always managed to celebrate our own Christmas at home, but we always inevitably ended up driving hours on end to get to the nearest family celebration. Lucky for my parents my sister and I were old enough to take care of ourselves for the most part. We didn’t need bottles or naps or diapers.

Now, husband and I are usually traveling anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to get to family celebrations. It’s not close but it’s not terrible. Now, though, the traveling isn’t what makes it difficult to go to family celebrations. It’s not even the bottles, diapers or naps. In fact, it’s not even the holidays at all.

It’s the kids. The kids and their post-holiday meltdowns. Aka, their holiday hangover.

With so many people around and so much going on it’s nearly impossible to keep the kids on their feeding and napping routines. They’re so busy running around and soaking up all the people and excitement that they don’t notice they’re all out of sync. And forget about preventing any sicknesses. That’s almost a guaranteed occurrence.

On the day of the celebration all is usually well. They only throw the usual fits for attention and they seem fine with eating at odd times. By the end of the night they start wearing thin and getting crabbier than usual. They’ve had enough excitement and need to get back on their routine. This is when we leave and get home and get the kids ready for bed with the usual bedtime routine. By this point, they’re usually too tired to put up a fight. They pass out and we don’t hear a peep from them for the remainder of the night.

This past Saturday we went to our first Christmas with all three of the kids. The holiday itself was great. We all had fun and enjoyed spending time with family. We left a little bit later than we wanted to and had to race home. We got home with ten minutes to spare and got the kids ready for bed at super speed. As anticipated, we got them down and didn’t hear a single sound after that. They were out cold. We patted each other on the back for a job well done. We managed to travel without incident.

Around 5:30 in the morning was when our success fell apart around us.

Our door crashed open and an enraged Buddy charged into the room and collapsed on the floor in a fit of tears. Husband and I woke up with a start and looked at one another. *wtf?*

I got up and went to Buddy and tried to ask him what was wrong, but he was so far gone there was absolutely no reasoning with him. It remained that way for the next hour as he crashed around the house, inconsolable. He wouldn’t let me near him.

Sighing, I finally picked up the feral child and headed into our bedroom. I tossed him in our bed and laid down next to him so he was in between husband and I and threw the blankets over us. He could thrash and scream all he wanted, but I wanted to at least be in bed if he wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. Plus, I knew husband was such a light sleeper that he was never going to sleep if Buddy was screaming, no matter how far from the bedroom we were.

Another twenty minutes later husband and I learned that we just had to lay completely still. The smallest sound or movement set him off. He finally fell asleep in our bed. Or rather, on my pillow, wrapped around my head like a cat. I was incredibly uncomfortable but I wasn’t about to wake up that little monster again. It was around 6:50 at this point and I was exhausted.

I found myself woken up again around 7:45 to husband growling to himself as he shuffled past the bedroom door in the hallway. Buddy followed, continuing his angry rampage on Husband’s tail. I later learned that Buddy woke him up at 7:15 in a fit again. I was apparently too tired to even hear it and Husband figured he’d take the next turn with our furious little angel.

This continued for the entire morning. We only had to look at him to get a glower like I’ve never seen before. Buddy was beyond help. We realized through the day that he was so hungry but he refused to eat. He was catching a second cold but refused to let us near his nose. He was so tired but he refused to even blink for fear that he would fall asleep. He wanted to be angry with very fiber of his being. He thrashed and crashed and screamed and whined with every remaining ounce of his energy.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, it was noon. Nap time. Buddy was going to sleep whether he wanted to or not. For the entire day the girls had been exceptionally whiney too, though not nearly as bad as Buddy. I scooped up the red-eyed Buddy and went upstairs to his bedroom. I laid him down and told him to stay in bed and take his nap. He stopped crying and looked up at me with a mixture of annoyance and exhaustion. I left him in silence and headed downstairs to tend to the girls. I had to feed them and diaper them and put them down as well. By the time I finished with them, Buddy was completely silent upstairs. I took that as a sign that he was sleeping and headed to the kitchen to make myself some lunch.

Husband had left to go grocery shopping and look for a few parts to fix our now broken dishwasher. It was only me and Remmy now and it was eerily quiet in the house.

I was soon on the couch reading a book with Remmy snuggled up next to me. Husband eventually came home and we watched the Packer game and hung out around the house doing odds and ends. By this time it had been two-and-a-half hours since putting the kids down. They usually only sleep one hour.

The girls woke up soon after that point and seemed to be much better. Hungry but better. We fed them and played with them and waited for Buddy to get up. He didn’t.

I creeped up to his bedroom to check on him and laughed. I found him in the exact position that I laid him down in. The blankets hadn’t moved an inch and he was out cold sprawled on his back. I went back down and consulted with Husband. Do we let him sleep until he wakes up on his own, or do we wake him up before he sleeps so long that it messes up his bedtime? We decided to let him sleep. Obviously he needed it. Besides, we didn’t have it in us to deal with a crabby Buddy anymore. We were too worn out.

Over three-and-a-half hours later, Buddy woke up. He came downstairs and greeted us with his big smile and headed straight for the fridge and asked for food. He ate more food than I ever thought possible and immediately went into the living room to go play. He was finally back to normal! He still had a cold which irritated him, but he was otherwise back to his usual self. From then until bedtime we still had a few aftershock meltdowns from the kids, but they were fine other than that.

Today they’re still a little crabbier than usual, but nowhere near yesterday’s level. Thank god Husband was with me yesterday for those horrendous 12 hours. I don’t know how I would have survived those vicious fits on my own.

I really hope this doesn’t become a typical thing for the kids every time we go to a holiday celebration. From what I hear, three years old is worse than two years old. Which means we’re in for at least another two years of this between all three of the kids. But after that, I’m wishing and praying and hoping that they grow out of it. This post-holiday hangover of theirs is unbelievable.

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