I don’t know about you, but Halloween and all the hoopla around it was ridiculous! From the Booing, the Trunk-or-Treating, the Book-O-Ween school parades, the neighborhood block parties, to candy donations, to the Switch Witch. It was exhausting! Whatever happened to simply dressing up and trick-or-treating? When and why did we over-complicate things? Don’t we have enough to do? Don’t get me wrong–each of these activities are great, in and of themselves, but when crammed together into an already busy parenting schedule, the activities become just another thing we have to do, and they suck the life right out of us. I’m sure the kids enjoy them, which is the point, but as moms, we kill ourselves trying to do it all. It’s as if we feel a pressure to say yes to everything and if we don’t, then somehow we’re not being a “good” mom. With the holidays just around the corner, let’s not succumb to the pressure to overdo it, but instead let’s learn to pick and choose what works for our own families and quit keeping up with the Joneses. Let’s K.I.S.S.
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
I know — we teach our kids not to say stupid, but I’ll be the first to call myself stupid if I overdo it this holiday season. It’s a trap we all fall into, but if we decide upfront not to fall and do it all, we won’t. Here’s a list of the usual activity suspects which pull us in all sorts of directions we don’t have to go. I’m sure you can add 10 more to the list, and just reading it stresses me out. But it’s good therapy to see it all at once so we can decide today what we will and won’t do tomorrow.
When we overdo it with the holiday to-do’s, we miss the whole point of the holidays. This year I’d like to keep my eyes, and my kids’ eyes, on the reason we celebrate, and not focus on all of the added fluff. Here are a few ways I plan to keep it simple.
FOCUS ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT
A simple conversation, not a Martha Stewart craft will do just fine. But by all means, if crafting is your jam, then go for it.
For me, Thanksgiving is about quality time with family and friends, good food, traditions and teachable moments. I’ll keep it simple and use our road trip to talk and share about what we’re thankful for as a family. And instead of baking a pie or side dish for a homeless shelter this year, we’re going to give financially to a few organizations which help the poor. Then I’ll make sure we talk to the kids about the monetary gifts so they’re aware how their family makes a difference to those in need.
And the same with Christmas. My goal this year is to focus on the reason for Christmas — and it’s not Santa or the gifts he brings. In my family, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and why His life is important to our Christian faith. In past years, I’ve tried to do special religious crafts or evening activities at dinner to incorporate things like the Joshua Tree or the Advent Wreath. Again, inspiring ideas, but we never complete them and I always feel worse for it. Instead, I’ll just stick to reading the Bible story and having conversations with my kids about what we read. Plus, why recreate the creative wheel when they learn and create fabulous things in church? Equally as important is our time we spend as a family and our instilling family traditions.
SCALE IT DOWN
I’m guilty of buying my kids too many toys for Christmas. It’s funny because I hate toys, or at least I hate the mess my kids create with them in my house, but painfully I keep bringing more toys in! This year I’m going to purge the old toys, and attempt this cool challenge my friend Deb recently posted on her Facebook page – the 4 Gift Christmas Gift Challenge Wow! The simplicity of this idea is refreshing. Whether I can stick to it 100% is another story, but it’s a great guideline to follow as I try and scale it down.
This is a perfect season to put our beliefs into action and help others in need. It can be as simple as talking to our kids about the end-of-the-year donations we make, or letting them put money into the Salvation Army red bucket. If you have the time and energy, seek out local organizations collecting gifts and clothes for kids. Let your kids pick things out for other kids their own ages who don’t have much. Every little amount helps and it gives us the chance to teach our kids how to contribute to society. It takes our kids’ focus off of themselves and their wants, and shows them how to focus on others. And isn’t that a reason for the season, too?
DON’T LOSE YOUR JOY
This is key for me, especially since I’m going into the season already exhausted. When I made my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, Joy was at the top of my list. It wasn’t about trying to fabricate the feeling of joy, but it’s been more about settling into a deep contentment in my life and in my faith. Living each day with purpose to just enjoy the moments of life because before we know it, they’ll be gone. When we’re so busy running here and there, it’s easy to lose our joy in these moments. Joy isn’t going to be found in all the doing, but joy will be found in just being. I think the holidays are the perfect time to get our joy back and who better to show us joy than our kids? Their childlike faith and excitement for the holidays is contagious, so let’s catch it and in turn let go of all the expectations, the pressures and the overflowing to-do list.
Before we know it, 2016 will be upon us. Our New Year’s Resolutions will be made and our calendars will fill up with all of the to-do’s of life. Let’s try to end this year on a less frenzied note and keep it simple, stupid.