1. Didn’t get your Christmas cards out this year? Instead why not make a short video wishing your friends and family a merry Christmas, maybe sing a song, or do a short skit.. email it out to loved ones. Save on postage too!
2. Ask the children to write a list of their favorite things to do over Christmas and a list of things they’d prefer not to do. Encourage complete honesty. If they really hate your brussel sprouts and their favorite thing is opening gifts, they should feel free to tell you. Maybe you hate cooking brussel sprouts too! Voila! One less thing to do.
3. Keep gift buying to a minimum. Suggest the kiddies choose gifts based on each of their five senses, or perhaps something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. The fewer things you buy, the less there is to wrap!
4 Take a Christmas lights tour. If doing this on Christmas Eve leaves too little prep time for Santa and makes Mummy more stressed than relaxed, then take the tour a day or two earlier. Wear your PJ’s and sip cocoa on the way around. Sure you can make your own flask of cocoa from freshly harvested beans and eat homemade fudge that you prepared a couple of days before OR you can swing by the gas station on the way out of town for a couple of cups of hot chocolate and a candy bar…. Kids like those too. Keeping it simple but still fun.
5. Don’t feel you need to put up every decoration you own. Pick the ones you love and use those. Allow the children to decorate the tree and refrain from “perfecting” it when they have gone to bed. Children are so proud of their creations and they love it all the more if they think you love it too. Let it stand. In the future they will not care to help you decorate and your tree will be perfect… and you will wish it weren’t. Less is more.
6. Pick 3 traditions to keep and toss out the rest. If each year you try to cram too many traditions into your holiday celebrations you risk driving yourself crazy. You can try a different three each year if you are worried about missing something. Maybe making gingerbread houses AND cookies for the neighbors AND homemade gifts for each family member AND homemade pies for workmates AND from scratch cinnamon rolls for breakfast is a bit much to handle with a newborn in the house? Give yourself a break and just do the things that bring you joy.
7. Have a purging session with the children. Go through old toys, books, games and clothes and fill a bag or two with things that can be donated. Clearing physical space will open up mental space too. Don’t go crazy and overwhelm yourself with this though… set a timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can clear out of one room in this time. When the ten minutes is up, STOP. You will be surprised how much you can purge in 10 minutes. The fewer things in the house the less there is to put away at the end of the day.
8. Try to find time to do a little something for someone else. Perhaps when you bake some cookies for yourselves, bag up a few and leave them on the neighbor’s doorstep for a tasty surprise. It doesn’t have to be a big deal or one more thing to add to your list, but just a little something to brighten someone else’s day. Doing good for others is also good for you too.
9. Sit with your children and read some holiday books with them or watch some corny Christmas movies. You are not wasting time, you are building memories. Even big kids love to be read to and you may find you love it too. It can’t be said too many times, but these are the days to remember for they will not last forever. Sitting and relaxing will lower your blood pressure even if only for a few minutes.
10. Finally make a little time for you. Don’t let the kiddoes drive you crazy. Children LOVE Christmas and they WILL keep reminding you just how many (or rather how FEW) days remain until the big day. Try not to scream at them when they do this. You may still have a lot of things you want to get done, but they don’t need to worry about that. Let them enjoy their countdowns and their excitement. Children don’t mind if you wake up in the morning and realize you forgot to buy turkey bags and so will have to have sausages and mashed potatoes for Christmas lunch. They will be still excited if you burn the bread, forget to turn on the soup and the turkey won’t cook because you set it on an insulated cookie sheet by mistake because it turns out you had the flu but didn’t know it yet. Christmas is about children, about love and about joy. We all know if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t NO body happy. Take a hot bath, a long walk, eat some chocolate, drink that wine, do what it takes to take care of you… everything else will work out. The kiddoes won’t remember what gourmet meal you made but they will remember the smile on your face and the light in your eyes.