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Christmas Chaos

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‘Tis the season…for chaos. Fitting all of your duties into a single day can be a challenge at the best of times. There are chores to be done, household tasks to take care of. Children (and your spouse!) need to be fed. There are lesson plans to create and implement, assignments to grade, and questions to answer. You may have a job that requires some of your time, or small children at home to care for. There are never enough hours in a day anyway…and then you add in the holidays.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” for some. For others, it’s a time to dread, a time of stress, of never having enough energy or enough time, of short budgets and shorter fuses.

There are gifts to purchase (preferably without your children around!), and presents to wrap. Decorations must be put up, because should you miss anything, the children will be heartbroken. Elf on the shelf? Someone has to make plans for him…and clean up his messes, should he choose to make them. There are holiday parties that require specific clothes, potluck meals that require you to bring food, and malls teeming with people to visit. You have to take holiday pictures, and send out holiday cards, and….

…the headache seems unending.

How’s a homeschooling mom supposed to get it all done, especially when too many of the people around you seem convinced that since you’re “just at home all day,” you should be able to take care of things on your own with a cheerful countenance and no effort whatsoever?

Simplify. Do you really need that elf moving about every night, or is he just another source of stress? If he’s a bit of fun to liven up the season, then go for it; but the moment he starts becoming more trouble than he’s worth, banish him back to the North Pole! Making cookies with your kids for all sixteen of the holiday parties you’ve been invited to might sound like the perfect activity for a stay-at-home mom, but if it makes your life easier to pick up a box of cookies or a veggie tray from the grocery store on your way there, there’s nothing wrong with that! Make the decisions that keep your day running smoothly, not just the ones that you think you “should” be doing.

Prioritize. There are two dozen crafts pinned to your Christmas Pinterest board that you’d love to complete. Ten new recipes that you’ve been saving to try during the holiday season. You want to take your kids to see Santa, and take them on that wonderful ride around town to look at all the lights, and watch Christmas movies together…there are only a few weeks left until Christmas, and you want to do it all!

Make that list of “want to” as if you’re living in a dream world…and then cut it down by half. Force yourself to be realistic and determine which activities you really want to get done this year. Delete a couple more just for good measure.

While you’re at it, determine ahead of time how many holiday parties you’re going to actually go to. Will you try to cram it all in, or take a step back and realize that some of them, you really don’t want to go to anyway and won’t miss if you stay home? More than likely, there are several events that you’re attending more out of obligation than desire—and in the process, you’re missing out on things that you would really rather be doing (even if that’s just sitting down in a comfortable chair with a good book for a few hours).

Schedule. Sit down with your calendar and make concrete plans as much as you can. For things that require a bit more flexibility, schedule tentatively anyway. On this day, we will go see Santa. On this one, we will ride around and look at the lights. Knowing when you intend to complete these activities will go a long way toward avoiding missed opportunities before the end of the holiday season.

Decide what kind of memories you really want to make. Do you have a younger child who is likely going to melt down as soon as you place him on Santa’s lap? How about older kids who just don’t care anymore? On the other hand, you might have a jaded teenager who doesn’t care at all about the Christmas lights, or a young child who will dread the car ride. Any age child will dislike attending an adult-oriented party where there will be no other children present, and leaving them with a babysitter over and over throughout the holiday season won’t work, either. Decide what memories you really want to build with your kids, and make those the priority. Don’t make memories that will be stressful for everyone involved—make the ones that will count later!

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