The holidays are my busiest time of year as a mom. In years past, I have been so stressed out in the month of December, trying to get all the loose ends tied up at work before taking off for a couple of weeks, trying to get my house decorated, buying all my gifts last minute, forgetting I was supposed to bring the homemade cherry pie to our family get together… the list seems never-ending. But this year, I decided I was going to plan ahead so I didn’t put so much pressure on myself in one month. Here is how I helped myself to not feel so overwhelmed and overextended.
1. Hit up the dollar section all year long. I keep a basket in the top of my closet, and all year, I slowly collect small Christmas gifts. Any time I go to a store with a dollar section or a sale section, I check out the items that cost a tiny amount and I buy just a couple. Then I add them to my closet basket — and before you know it, I’ve got stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts for my boys. This way, I’m dispersing the cost of gifts throughout the year, in small amounts, which means I don’t have to come out of pocket hundreds of dollars for my kiddos each December.
2. Don’t offer to host the holiday get together at your house. There will be plenty of years in the future where your kids will be old enough to help you get the house ready for all of your family to come over. For now, take your aunt up on the offer to spend Christmas at her house. Less stress for you and certainly less clean up.
3. Don’t feel like you have to wrap every single tree in Christmas lights. Just go buy one of those plug-in, blow-up Mickey Mouse inflatables and call it a day. Your toddler will think you hung the moon — and you won’t be stuck outside, tangled in a mess of lights while wrapping trees and searching for all of your extension cords.
4. Offer to bring a SIMPLE dish, not a complicated one. For instance: My family has this amazing recipe for a chocolate sheet cake with homemade icing. As incredible as it tastes, it sure is complex and time consuming. Opt instead for a fruit-filled pie with pre-made pie crust. Or heck, just buy a pie that’s already made at the grocery store. Food is food, and people will eat it! If you are in charge of bringing a side dish, I highly recommend bringing the green bean casserole. Three ingredients, and you’re done!
5. Shop online. Let’s be honest: Shopping in a store with a baby or toddler is difficult, so don’t waste time on that. With all the great deals you can find online nowadays, you’re sure to find just what you need while sitting on your couch at home. And always Google online coupons for whatever store you’re buying from and try them at checkout. This way, you’ll get the best discount possible.
6. Don’t stress about out-of-town guests staying with you. If anything, a baby gives you the perfect excuse to not have family stay overnight. Just tell them the baby cries will probably wake them in the middle of the night and early in the morning, and it’s probably best for them to stay with other family members. If there is nowhere else for them to stay, then don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to have your house absolutely perfect. A clean bathroom and clean sheets are the main necessities. Beyond that is just luxury.
7. Stay home this year. I know everyone loves a good holiday road trip, but maybe it’s not in your budget? That’s ok! People will understand if you are honest and say it just isn’t in your budget this year to travel. It may make for a super special holiday with just your small family in your home. One you will never forget.
8. It’s okay to say no to those holiday parties. You don’t have to fill every single weekend with a holiday party. And you can totally blame not being able to get a babysitter! No one can argue with that.
9. Get a pre-lit tree. First of all, I realize real trees are beautiful, but they also shed pine needles and they hurt like a Lego when you step on one with bare feet. Plus, a real tree takes a lot more work. I have a beautiful 9-foot pre-lit tree that I put up every year. It is nearly hassle-free. Saves me a ton of time and a ton of stress.
10. Speaking of trees: Mine looked just as beautiful with no ornaments on it last year. I was a single mom with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old and honestly just didn’t have the time to put up ornaments. I stuck a few pinecones in the tree for decoration, and it already had lights. Not one person even said anything to me about the missing ornaments. Mom win!
The most important part of the holidays is family time. Stressing about all the little details won’t do you any good. If anything, just love on those babies and eat all the cookies, and you’re sure to have a great holiday season! That is, until you have to hit up the gym after the new year to work off all the cookies. On second thought, just love on those babies. Happy Holidays!