Whether you are stressing over family coming into town, chatting with your uncle who makes your skin cringe or dealing with kids who are whining and screaming; the Holiday season can be one of the most hectic stressful times of the year.
What if we could just stop and try to simplify things? Throw out the list of must-dos and take a minute to plan a slower more meaningful time of year. Don’t think simplifying things means your family won’t have any fun. That’s not true.
I’m going to share with you three little things we have done in the past to help us slow down and embrace the season.
PICK YOUR TRADITIONS WISELY
You can’t do it all. I know Christmas magic is all around, but you are going to have to pick your activities and traditions wisely.
Do you need to visit every Santa? Do you have to get a picture with Santa every year? As tempting as it is to fill up every weekend leading up to Christmas, think about slowing it down and really embracing the season with doing less.
When you schedule fewer activities it’s easier to go into the next one which is lower your expectations.
Last year we went to see Santa twice. I decided after our second Santa visit we were sticking to seeing Santa one time. Mainly because the second Santa barely had a beard attached and wasn’t convincing me of any sort of Christmas magic.
We have found a place that has a great holiday tradition and Santa comes to visit each year, and like my oldest daughter says, ” That’s the real Santa.”
Which means we stick to that one. This year I had to possibly disappoint the kids telling them we were not going to be participating in the Cookies with Milk & Santa at the school this year. My youngest didn’t even realize what was going on.
My oldest was a little sad, but I think it was more about seeing friends and feeling a part of it.
As the parent I know, we have a much better tradition and Santa experience coming up in a few short days. She can’t remember that but she has to trust and obey. When the day comes to see Santa she will be happy and remember to trust and obey.
Very similar to our relationship with God isn’t?
I keep hearing this all the time in my circle of close friends, my bible study groups, church, and well I guess when you think you’ve lowered your expectations enough, go more.
When you bring your children out to a million different activities they are going to get tired and overwhelmed. If you have Christmas gatherings you must go to, try to lower your expectations with the kids. They are just as excited and tired as everyone else.
We have to remember what it is like to be a child this season. Not an adult with a bunch of items to check off the list.
Try lowering your expectations on your kids, yourself, and your spouse.
DON’T OVERWHELM THE KIDS
It is very easy to get caught up in the hype of sales, new toys, and giving our precious little angels everything they want.
I’m not sure if as a parent we put our self-worth into what we provide to our kids each year. Last year was the first year we had a larger budget for Christmas.
It was rare in our spending freeze days for me to ever give in to buying a toy for the girls when we were out shopping unless I had a coupon or it was on clearance.
We just didn’t have the money. I learned from the first few times I did give in, how much damage it cost our weekly budget. How I would have to make up for that toy by cutting back our grocery bill.
I love the 4 gift rule. If you haven’t heard it, you buy your child four gifts.
- Something to wear
- Something to read
- Something you need
- Something you want.
I loved it when I first heard about it when the girls were under the age of three. As they have gotten older and Santa has become a tradition- I couldn’t find my joy or satisfaction with the four gift rule. It’s not for everyone, but it could be for you.
We have done gifts in our house the last few years like this.
As soon as the Target Toy book comes in the mail I head to Target and grab one more. Each child goes through and circles what they want.
Leading up to Christmas usually the whole month of November if they girls are in a store and find something they really want, I take a picture of it on my phone for Christmas.
After looking through the Toy catalogs they come up with the list.
Santa’s list allows them to write five items. I set the number and they have never questioned why five? It’s just the way it has always been.
Anything else they want goes on another list for all the rest of the family, including mom and dad. They know they may not get all or any of those items from the list.
What they do understand is what they put on the List to Santa they get.
Listen, if an item appears on the list that you are thinking, oh boy that’s an expensive toy, you can sway kids. You know you can. My daughter thought she wanted a Vtech Smartphone. It is $80!
We budget for a large item each year BUT she was going off the Target toy ad. She didn’t realize this phone was for younger kids and is pretty much like her Fire 7 Kids Tablet.
You may want to check out why I think EVERY parent needs Amazon Freetime for their kiddos here.
She took it off her list right away! Always talk through each present.
What does that mean for our budget?
The kid’s items come first and whatever is left in the budget will be used for my husband. We don’t share gifts between extended family members. So we don’t have anyone else to buy for. Sometimes it makes me sad we don’t exchange gifts like that anymore, but I get my gift sharing out over on my other blog for the 20 days of giveaways!
This works for my husband and me, but it may not work for you. If one of your top love languages is gifts, this would be difficult. You could plan and start saving earlier in the year to allow room for a larger budget, make your own, or plan at home date night cards.
PIN FOR LATER: How to Really Live Below Your Means This Year
I hope this helps you to remember to slow down this season and embrace what is right in front of you. To trust God is good and there is a purpose in all of this. Think about the feelings of love and warmth and excitement you want your kids to experience this year, and how our heavenly Father wants the same thing for you. All the time. Not just once a year.
Merry Christmas Friends!