So, we just made it past Halloween (sigh of happy relief as you pop a miniature chocolate bar) and now Thanksgiving and Christmas are looming large (deep, deep breaths). If you’re looking for how to prepare for the holidays, there is a plethora of blogs, websites and ideas. Just visit Pinterest for a million pins on table décor, the perfect cornucopia, homemade wreaths, delicious dishes to make, hosting the perfect holiday party, gorgeous giftwrapping and more. And that’s great – but when most moms talk about getting ready for the holidays, we’re wondering how do we get it all done and still hold onto a sliver of our sanity. How do we get our active family dressed in matching outfits and find a way to make the children look at the camera without all crying? How do we take a cartful of children grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving feast and not wind up in the fetal position trying to find the pumpkin spice? How do we decorate our house and somehow not end up with all our favorite childhood ornaments smashed, eaten or worse? And gift wrapping – when is there ever time to actually wrap all those presents stored in your closet – no less get them into the UPS store? These are the things inquiring moms want to know about getting ready for the holidays . . . and we’ve got some answers!
- Minimize your efforts, maximize your results: This doesn’t mean having an apathetic attitude or putting in a mediocre attempt. Rather, it’s about being efficient and getting the most out of your time and efforts. Before I became the mom of three, I used to love holiday gift shopping, strolling through the malls not worried about the crowds because I was looking for the perfect gift. Enter Thing 1 and then our twins, and Amazon Prime suddenly became my best friend! It’s not that I don’t still like to browse and search, shop and select for my loved ones, but I need to be able to do it at night from the comfort of my own couch, sitting in my jammies with the day’s makeup not yet wiped off. Shopping online is probably one of the most influential inventions of our time for moms, and it not only takes care of trips to the mall but also helps you handle the gift-wrap and shipping aspect. And with the power of Google and other search engines, you can shop, compare, put it in your cart and think about it, and not deal with traffic, kids, or stress. But, it doesn’t end there! Are you hosting a huge feast this year? Or, do you just find it impossible to get simple errands done during the hectic holiday season? Why not get your grocery shopping done online, show up at the store and have it loaded into your car – or just shipped straight to your house! For me, it’s all about Kroger Clicklist and Amazon Prime Pantry which eliminates all those trips where I need milk, butter, eggs, yes – pumpkin spice – and other holiday essentials. I save the browsing up and down the aisle for more infrequent shopping trips then having to load kids in and out of my grocery cart every single time. Getting ready for the holidays involves errands galore and trips to here and there – which is torture when you have children. So, why not do more online, drive less and make yourself a happier mom?
- Keep it real: If you’re a mom to small children, the holidays have and will continue to change for you. So, let’s get real. Decorations? It’s all about what won’t get broken, eaten or flushed down the toilet. So that lovely ceramic turkey that you place on your end table – you might want to put it away and break it out in a few years. Live poinsettias? Why not opt for faux this year? Crystal tree ornaments? Put them up high. Luminaries lining the sidewalk? You may want to opt out on playing with matches. Are you getting the picture? After my husband and I had children, our Christmas tree went from a lovely, fully decorated live tree to a 4 foot tall artificial tree, placed on a pink Dora the Explorer table that was covered with a white sheet, all protected by a baby gate. As the kids got older, we graduated to a larger tree and skipped the Dora table and baby gate, but we attached the tree to our wall, via wire and screws, and only decorated ¾ of the way up. One day, we’ll graduate back to a big, fully decorated tree – we can only dream!
And, while we’re doing a reality check, let’s talk about the family photos and holiday cards. If you have young children, getting a family photo taken may be one of the more miserable experiences you’ll encounter this year. Dressing everyone and keeping them clean is always a challenge, not to mention keeping the kids from wandering out of the photo. If you make it that far, there’s the image selection process, the point at which your kids want to tear down the store or run away into the lovely park that you chose for your holiday backdrop. Why not give yourself a break and do a family PJ photo that your neighbor can take? Or, do a collage of candids, showing friends and family the beauty (and motion) that is your life right now? It may not be realistic to get your little ones to sit, no less sit still, so do what works for you.
- Know where you are . . . and be comfortable with that: I don’t mean physically (though that’s always good to know as well). Rather, be aware what season of life your family is in, and know what is and is not a good idea for you to handle. Is this the best year for you to travel with small children? Should you offer to host Thanksgiving – or just volunteer to bring some pies? Is a cookie exchange at your house (during nap times) really the best idea? If your mother-in-law wants everyone to go to midnight Christmas services, should you politely decline this year? All too often, moms try to make everyone happy and end up turning their children’s schedule upside down in the process – which makes for miserable children and an even more unhappy mom. I always tell the story of the year we decided to fly the entire family out West to be with my husband’s family for Christmas. Our oldest was 19 months and our twins were 5
months old. Flying seemed like a horrible option – until we considered the fact that the following year, we’d have 3 toddlers and life would never be the same. So, we bit the bullet and took everyone on connecting flights from Michigan to Park City, Utah – on Christmas Eve so the children could sleep during the flights. For some, that seemed crazy, but as far as Christmas travel with children, that timing was the best it was going to be for many years to come. While we didn’t spend our days sightseeing or skiing the slopes, we saw family and we made it work for our schedule. Granted, we haven’t flown any other Christmases, but that’s just fine with us. Now family can come to us! The moral of the story? Know when to say “yes” and when to say when.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help: All too often, we try to be Super Mom, especially as we get ready for the holidays. There was the year I was Room Parent for all 3 kids’ preschool classes, coordinated the holiday parties and the teacher gifts and decided to bake cookies for all of the neighbors. That was also the same year I ended up in the fetal position on my couch, covered head to toe in flour, by mid-December. The holidays are a hectic time for anyone but for moms, it takes on a new level of insanity. To help manage it all, do not be afraid to ask for some help. Can your husband stop by the grocery to pick up the items you ordered? Is there the option to hire a babysitter one morning so you can get errands done quickly? Do you have grandparents who are looking to spend some quality time with your little ones? Is there a neighbor who’d be willing to trade some pro bono babysitting with you so each of you can have some time to get out and get things done? They say it takes a village and when it comes to the holidays, it’d be great to have a metropolis. So, ask for help when and where you can – and take it willingly.
We’re not about telling you what to put on your gift list, how to fold your holiday napkins or what to wear to the office Christmas party. Rather, we want you to have more realistic, simpler, less stressful ways you can prepare for the holidays – and still have enough sanity and brainpower to enjoy them with your family!
So, Happy Holidays and Mom On!
The Baby Pibu Team