By Zach McCrite
People always claim that certain non-December times of the year are their own “Christmas.” I am no exception. March is my Christmas.
I, admittedly (and sadly) pay less attention to my family in March than any other month. Moreover, I probably get less work done in March than any other time of the year. The good news: that holds true for many others in my extended family and in my workplace.
However, there are tips to make this work. Tips that I have cultivated over a long period of time. Tips that I now hand over to you, fellow college basketball-lover, to get you through this awesome month when others close to you have wondered where you have wandered.
After all, it is Christmas… better to give than to receive.
Here we go.
Tips for the married March Madness fanatic: If you want your life to be OK during the month of March where you may not spend as much quality time with your spouse, then it’s time to start building up brownie points now before the tournament begins. My tip: Wash everything. Your gender matters none. Just wash everything.
That’s the big deal in my house, at least. I have come to find out that if I wash anything, whether it be clothes, the dishes, the car, the baby, the high chair – it doesn’t matter – if I wash it, things go better between me and my wife. Brownie points are earned. Start washing everything.
Also, it’s time to let your spouse know right now, right as you’re reading this that these days are now marked off the calendar if they aren’t already. They are March 8 to 12 (that’s conference tournament time, which, as of this writing, may be the only way my Indiana Hoosiers make the Big Dance) and March 16 to 19 (that’s the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament).
Block out the time in your family calendar. Mark it “Christmas” and don’t let it be changed. If you’re a pro, you did this long ago. But, if not, do it now. If there is any function that your spouse wants you to attend during these time periods, let the other know that the only valid functions you will attend must include a ticket to a venue where basketball is being played.
Tips for the March Madness-crazed parent: Wash your kids (see above).
Also, if you have the type of kids that want to watch basketball with you during the month of March, by all means, have at it. This is a great time to nurture the relationship with your child while doing something you love. But, if your friends have an “no kids”-type thing going on for the NCAA tournament (and that might be the case), here’s a special workaround: reserve the conference tournaments as “kid time” for watching March Madness. That way, when it’s time to belly-up with your adult friends for the first and second rounds the following weekend, you’re in the clear. Let your kids know of your plan up front.
Tips for the spouse that doesn’t much appreciate their significant other being gone the entire month of March: Your significant other should have already accrued brownie points at the beginning of the month. If not, they’ll make it up to you. You’re just going to have to trust me on this.
Tips for the March Madness-obsessed employee: If you have vacation time, now is the time to use it.
Pro tip: The earlier you schedule the time off the better. As March Madness approaches, other employees are going to be requesting off left and right. The earlier you schedule your time off, the more likely it is to be approved. Do it now.
Also, when it come to the first “real” day of the NCAA tournament – Thursday, March 16 – you can probably get away with just taking a half-day off of work. Work until noon, when all the games tip, and then be off for the rest of the day. And if you’re into conserving your vacation days, take another half-day off on Friday… unless you really like to enjoy your Thursday, in which case you should take all of Friday off.
Tips for the bosses of the March Madness-obsessed: Your employees don’t want to be at work during the first and second round of the NCAA tournament. That’s just how it is. Let them all use their vacation days, even if it means your “numbers” will be down for the month because – newsflash! – , your numbers are going to be down anyway on the account of it being March.
Either let them use their vacation and get less output, or make them come to work and get less output. Same result either way, except the former makes you look like an awesome boss whom they will work harder for in the future because their employees respect you (and leaves them with less vacation – a win for you, Mr. Boss!). The latter just gives your March Madness-immersed employees another reason to hate you (and they get to keep that vacation time).
Tips for the March Madness bracket-filler-outer: Fill out one bracket. ONE! Then throw that bracket into as many contests as you want. No one wants to hear you say “I picked that 15-seed to win in one of my 38 brackets and guess what? THEY DID! Respect my hoops genius!” No one.
Also, don’t overthink your bracket when you fill it out. Everyone else is. These days, picking mostly favorites is akin to going “against the grain” and who wouldn’t like going against the grain with favorites in their back pocket.