As a young wife, someone older and wiser told me that we are often the keepers of time when it comes to our marriages and families, and to manage it well. In the past 13 years, I have found this to be very true. Those that know me closely know that I literally schedule all activities for our marriage and family. If we don’t put it on the calendar, it won’t happen. Anything which is on our calendar we treat as if it were an important business meeting and try our best to not cancel it. And Christmas time is no different!
With our media-saturated society, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything we “should” be doing with our kids and families during this busy season. If you’re like me, when I start to put the pressure on myself, I quickly become overwhelmed. I want to enjoy this season as much as possible, so I try to simplify everywhere I can.
You get to decide what’s important to you and your family!
At dinnertime, or at the end of each day, we try to ask our boys, “What was your favorite thing today?” as a conversation starter to find out what they enjoyed about their day. This is also a great way to incorporate gratitude because even on a rough day there’s always something good that happened. My husband and I participate in this too, and on more than one occasion, it has forced us to look for the positive on an otherwise challenging day.
A few years ago, after a family vacation, we asked our boys what their favorite thing was. On this vacation we went hiking, swimming, and participated in several other notable exciting adventures. My oldest child’s response was a light bulb moment for me in the best possible way. He said his favorite thing out of the whole week was eating gummy bears. We had picked up Dollar Tree snacks for a movie night and the gummy bears were the most memorable. Kids see things differently than we do. They are not trying to keep up with what’s expected of them at the holidays. Less really is more.
This leads me to the first things I do at the start of the Christmas season.
Firstly, I ask my kids what their #1 special thing is that we do at Christmas.
I realized that I might be scrambling around to fit in activities and that my kids may not even care if we did them. I prioritize their preferred things and then add in a few we like to do, and let the rest go!
Secondly, establish traditions for your family.
Every year on December 1, we give our kids new Christmas pajamas and a Christmas themed book. This is small in the grand scheme of things, but it is a sweet tradition for our family and one we all look forward to. Another tradition we love is going ice skating at the Choo Choo and grabbing hot chocolate at the Hot Chocolatier afterwards.
Thirdly, be realistic about your limitations and expectations.
You know you best. Admit your strengths and weaknesses. Some moms are great at cooking, baking, and decking their house out in decor. While others have the most creative ideas for their elf on the shelf and advent calendars. Also, be realistic about your child’s limitations and expectations! Take into consideration their age, the busyness of your schedule etc.