Before kids the holidays probably weren’t too hectic
Can I tell you a story about a time before I was a mom, and I didn’t have any problems surviving the holiday’s with my sanity intact?! Years ago, when my husband and I were newly married, we were taking a quick trip to the hardware store. That was back in the day before we had kids and could actually take a quick trip somewhere. Am I right?
It was early November and I was thoroughly enjoying the orange leaves, the brisk chill in the air, and the delicious scent of pumpkin and cinnamon my latte was wafting in the air. We walked into the store and a soft warm glow caught my eye. Soon, I was surrounded by colorful lights, cute little reindeer, and Christmas trees! I was delighted! Christmas was my favorite time of year and it filled my soul with a warm joyful glow.
I began chatting with my husband animatedly about my over the top Christmas plans. It wasn’t a bad idea to outline the entire house with classic white lights was it??? NO RESPONSE. I looked over at him to see if he was distracted. Nope. He had a grimace on his face and said words I never expected to hear, “Yeah, I don’t like Christmas that much…”
UM, WHAT?!?! I never got an answer from him as to why he didn’t like Christmas, but a few years later I began understanding what he meant.
Our first Christmas after having our first daughter, really put things in perspective for me. Before kids, I had so much time to plan and we always had extra money in the budget, so it wasn’t hard to come up with Christmas gifts. But, with a 3 month old baby we had no time to sleep, much less decorate, bake cookies and our whole budget was going to diapers not gifts! There was new joys too, though. There is nothing like the joy of watching your child light up at the sights and sounds of the season or squeal with delight as they rip the paper off their gifts Christmas morning. Children make Christmas magical, but I knew as a busy mom I had to find a way to manage some of the chaos.
So, are you a busy mom too? If so, let me share my secrets to help you survive the holidays and take the stress out of Christmas…
Always start planning EARLY
You may have seen this on Facebook and thought I was a little crazy… Why is this woman talking about Christmas in October? I have trouble surviving the holidays… I don’t want to think about that now. Well, the truth is it’s time to start thinking and budgeting. My favorite little trick is to budget from January to October, then buy almost all my gifts (that I can’t get from local business) online during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. I don’t have to fight the crowds, but I still walk away with some awesome deals. That way during November and December, we are not stressing to come up with enough money in the budget for gifts that have been marked up for the holidays.
Let your kids start making Christmas list now! Start thinking…will Christmas be at home this year? Will you be having guests? Will you be going to visit family?
Know your plans in advance, so you can start to budget! Get a jump start on decluttering your home if you’re going to guests, or have your kid’s gifts sent to the location you are visiting. Now, your car is not bogged down with gifts you need to hide in addition to all that luggage you already have.
Don’t do ALL THE THINGS
One of my favorite things about Christmas is our special Cookie day. When I was a kid, my mom would bake 5 or 6 different types of cookies and we would spend all day decorating them. My mom is a Christmas wonder woman and she goes over the top for EVERY. SINGLE. CHRISTMAS. It frustrated and overwhelmed me when I tried doing the same, though.
I learned to stop doing every single thing or trying to be perfect. It stressed me out and took all the joy out of the season. Are our cookies Pinterest worthy?… NOPE. But, we still have buckets of fun making them!
Sit down and write a list of all the things you want to do . Then, give it a look over. Do you need to do everything? Not if you want to survive the holidays! Why not just pick a few favorites and stick with those. If all goes well, you can always add a few more things.
Have a few simple traditions
Think back to Christmas as a kid. What are the things that stick out most and bring a smile to your face? For me, it’s not the presents or the decorations, it’s the time we spent together as a family. Every Christmas, my family would head to the McDonalds drive through, get eggnog milkshakes, turn up the Christmas music and drive around looking at Christmas lights. Those trips were full of happy conversations, laughter, and the wonder of the magnificent twinkling displays.
If your family doesn’t have any traditions yet, what are 2 or 3 traditions your family could do this year. These don’t have to be crazy or elaborate. After all, simple traditions are best because they allow for a stress free environment that your family can fill with joyful memories.
Remember the HEART of the season
It is easier than ever to get caught up in the commercialization of the season and when you do that it feels like you are barely surviving the holidays. Everything can start to feel like a competition. Who has the most gifts? Which family has the best light display in town? Which mom makes the best cookies? How can you avoid the whirlwind? In everything you do, remember the heart of the season. I absolutely love this little tradition from Story of this Life, to help your children remember the true meaning behind Christmas.
Above all, try giving back. I always do an activity with my kids to be a part of giving back to the community. For instance, there are so many things you can do whether it be partnering with a local charity or working with your church. You just need to do a little research to find out what is right for your family.
One of my favorite things to do is to sponsor a child through the Alabama Heart Gallery. They send you the Christmas list of a child in foster care and it is a wonderful experience for my daughters to help pick out a special gift.
Giving back to those in need will do more to warm our hearts than any other item on your list. Trust me! If you have a great suggestion on how to give back this holiday season, I would love to see it in the comments below!
Learn to Capture the Memories
Did this get you all excited and geared up for this holiday season!?! Let me help you capture all your wonderful memories this holiday season. Grab your free copy of my checklist, 10 Memories to Capture this Holiday Season. (With a few tweaks, this could work for Fall and Thanksgiving too!) There are so many memories to be made these last few months of the year!