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Getting Ready for the Holiday Season

Man with a baby and a toddler boy making cookies at home. Father and son baking gingerbread Christmas cookies.Seriously? You’ve just put the very last ghoulish decoration away and if you hear anything more about pumpkin spice, you might lose your mind. Don’t look now but the holiday season is just gearing up! Yes, that means deciding who’s going to visit whom; buying turkeys, hams and all the fixings; anticipating family frustrations or feuds and determining how to diffuse them; Santa pictures and holiday cards, matching outfits and haircuts. And we haven’t even gotten to the holiday baking, wish lists, stocking stuffers or home décor! By now, you’re probably ready to start binge-eating the trick-or-treat leftovers, but take a deep breath and a step back. Getting ready for the holiday season doesn’t have to be so stressful, because we have some helpful holiday hints that will allow you to do what you need, bypass what you don’t and enjoy the holidays, all in stride!

That was Then; This is Now: Remember life before motherhood? You and your spouse could easily plan holiday travel, never worrying about car seats or pack-n-plays. Entertaining was a joy, and you loved to decorate and prepare for the big celebration. Holiday budgets were much different as there was more disposable income, pre-kids. These are all small things that you probably didn’t even realize until of course, you became a parent. While there are so many blessings and joys from having children, holidays with little ones are definitely different and oftentimes, more stressful and complicated. However, rather than longing for what was and wondering if you can still do everything and be everything to everyone, embrace the season in which you are in and do what you can – without losing your sanity. If this means that holiday travel needs to focus more on your family and children’s schedules, then so be it. Maybe family can come to you or you can plan to travel on days when it’s not as hectic. If you choose to forego hosting the holiday hoopla, that’s ok – someone else can offer to take up the torch. And budgets – well, no one ever said that having children was inexpensive so maybe that means cutting back a little but you can still enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank. As for holiday décor and decorations, don’t worry about preparing your home for House Beautiful. Rather, take into account the stage and age of your children and plan accordingly. Crystal ornaments and an overabundance of poinsettias don’t make sense when you have roaming toddlers and little ones crawling about. Luminaries on the sidewalk are not a good idea if you have children or pets roaming the yard. As my family quickly realized when our children were ages two, one and one, holiday decorating was all about what wouldn’t get knocked over, broken, eaten or flushed down the toilet – and our decorations reflected that! So know who you are, know what your family can handle and avoid what will make you crazy. Having a family is all about going through different seasons of life – the good, the bad and the breakable!

Digital Delights: As a mom, you may be wondering how you will ever make the holidays happen. Getting ready for the holidays involves errands galore and trips to here and there – which is torture when you have children. This year, why not simplify your life and see what you can get done without ever leaving your home? Determine what you need and when, and then tackle your to-do list with your laptop or iPad. Thanks to many online options, including simple things like groceries and household items, you can accomplish almost everything you need without ever buckling that 5-point harness and leaving your driveway. Make your lists and check them twice. Look for free shipping options and coupons as they are everywhere. Take advantage of gift options and gift receipts and send presents all ready for the big day. You’re raising small people, keeping them fed and watered and safe. Who has time to peruse the mall with thousands of other people?

The Jones Don’t Really Exist: Two words for you – Mom Guilt. All too often, we moms beat ourselves up about what we’re not doing for our families, especially during the holidays. And thanks to social media, we can see how perfect everyone else is by simply opening up Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. Bah Humbug! The truth is that if you talk to most moms, we’re all basically doing the same thing – trying to do the best for our spouse and children while juggling 200 different tasks and worrying that the slightest mistake will scar our babies for life. So if you’re wondering how your neighbor got the perfect holiday photo or your cousin managed to get all your Christmas presents mailed before Thanksgiving or why the house down the street looks like Chip and Joanna Gaines decorated it for the holidays, remember that someone is looking at your family wondering how you do it. During these next few months, you’re going to feel the urge to do more, just to keep up with a perceived image of everyone around you when in reality, we’re all just trying to keep our heads above water. So forget about keeping up with the Joneses – they don’t live here anymore. Rather, do you and along the way, take the time to smile at another mom and tell her what a good job she’s doing.

As a mom, getting ready for the holiday season is less about wrapping paper, stuffed turkeys and fresh holiday wreaths and more about keeping your sanity in check. Our simple suggestions are geared to help you put your family first, keep your plans and aspirations realistic and most of all, enjoy this time. There is no greater joy than to experience the holidays through the eyes of your children, to come out of the kitchen or away from the gift-wrapping and be able to witness their “firsts.”

So here’s to some very happy holidays for you and your family, and as always, Happy Parenting!