One of the secret aggravations of the holidays is all the cleaning that they require. Especially if you’re hosting. Or you’re a woman. Or you are married to a woman. (I’m a slob.) Or you have kids.
When you have kids, your home is in a nonstop cycle of needs-to-be-cleaned, or was-just-cleaned-and-almost-needs-to-be-cleaned-again, or please-god-let-the-cleaning-stop, and the cycle accelerates when you add decorations, drop-ins and in-laws to the mix. You have to clean before the guests arrive, after the guests leave, before you put up the tree, after you take down the tree, after the gifts are opened, after the meal is eaten, and so on and so forth. The cleaning starts early and ends late and when you have kids it never ends.
We put the Christmas decorations up over the weekend and I’ve been running around cleaning the wreckage from the minute the first bow was tied.
Holiday preparations were hard enough before kids. My Christmas-fanatic of a wife has six huge boxes of wreaths and lights and dishtowels and ribbons and things-I-don’t-even-know-the-names-of to install all over the place, and just putting away their empty containers requires several man-hours of work. But now I have a three-year-old, and he likes to be involved, and by “likes to be involved” I mean “likes to run around undoing everything we’ve done and occasionally shattering a beloved ornament and then spilling my drink and isn’t it time for BED ALREADY?!
With a kid in the mix, you have to add time for damage-control and debris-dispersal one more run to the liquor store. We actually had to put up most of our decorations more than once because my three-year-old keep taking them down because three-year-olds are DELIGHTFUL. We’re not even halfway through December and Christmas has already become a ChristMESS. And I imagine I’m not alone.
Fear not! I’ve put together some quick suggestions for managing the mess this December. Hopefully you’ll find one or two you can put into action and make things a bit easier for yourself this holiday season. Though you might need a time machine for the last one.
1 – Don’t Decorate
You can still enjoy the season and share your love for shopping Jesus without flaunting it via brightly-colored trinkets and fabrics and poinsettias and that disgusting, decaying tree. All you need is a Santa Hat, some Christmas music and Bad Santa on repeat. Decorations are more trouble than they’re worth, especially if your toddler decides to take a bite out of the glass ornament that looks like an apple. Would you rather let your neighbors have the best Christmas lights in town or spend Christmas Eve in the ER?
2 – Don’t Wrap the Gifts
My mother used to put Hefty bags beside the tree for us kids to put our wrapping paper into as we opened our presents. NICE TRY, MOM! Most of the time that paper was bunched into makeshift basketballs that missed the garbage bag by a mile and rolled under the couch ‘til Easter or was fashioned into a crude projectile that inevitably landed in someone’s eye and/or egg nog. No thanks. I’m eliminating the middleman and simply not wrapping my kid’s gifts. Trust me, he couldn’t care less.
3 – Don’t Buy Any Gifts
Or even better: eliminate the mess by eliminating the source. No gifts at all! Short-term benefits: nothing to clean up except your kids’ shattered dreams. Long-term benefits: others will stop giving you gifts… and coming to your house,… and talking to you. Pretty soon you’ll have no reason to shower, let alone clean the house!
4 – Eat Out
Spend Christmas at a Chinese Restaurant, a la “A Christmas Story”. Not only can you enjoy some light-hearted racism, you can pay someone else to clean the table after your disgusting children spill their gravy everywhere. Just stay away from Rob Ford’s wife.
5 – Put the Kids’ Table in the Garage
Or even the driveway. Let nature be your maid. My son will be the only kid at our Christmas dinner, so we’ll probably have to put the TV out there with him, and maybe a heat lamp and a baby monitor, so we can hear his teeth chattering. At the very least he’ll have extra incentive to eat fast; that shit’s gonna get COLD.
6 – Give Your Kids a Dog (for a day)
An amazing gift and a garbage disposal on legs! Let that dog go apeshit on the dishes. Just lift him up onto the dinner table and leave the room and you barely even need to run the dishwasher. One caveat: get rid of the dog the next day because the messes it makes will quickly outweigh the ones it eliminates. Preferably ditch it at the animal shelter before it pukes. And don’t worry about the kids; tears don’t stain.
7 – Give Your Kids Matches
Maybe nothing happens. But there’s at least a chance you’ll have a lot less to clean tomorrow. Kids are stupid.
8 – Drink More
FACT: Drunk people are more tolerant of filth.
9 – Get Into a Huge Fight with Your Spouse and Move Out
Look, it’s the holidays. Someone’s going to get mad about something – especially if you practice #8 - and that goes quadruple if the in-laws are in town. So put the inevitable argument (or ten) to good use and bail before clean-up starts. I’m not saying get a divorce; just storm out and go get your groove back for a week or so. When you return, either everything will be clean or you will need to get a divorce.
10 – Don’t Have Kids
Mike Julianelle blogs about being a dad at Dad And Buried.