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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

relax and let go ... it's Christmas time!

It's Christmas Eve. And all is not quiet around most moms' houses, I'm sure.

Most moms today are busy, rushing to and from, making last minute pit-stops here and there, grabbing one more thing (like they've said for a week now, ONE more thing).

Most moms are trying to recall, "Did we do that tradition we thought of doing?! Did we?!" Baking cookies. Making sure we have some carrots to leave out for Santa Claus. Hiding the Elf in one last funny spot. Writing out the thoughtful yet rushed card to a loved one.

One more thing. Always one more thing it seems.

Yet, don't we know already in our minds that it isn't about that one more thing? It's about what we've already put into this season... the trips to visit Santa and grandparents for extra hugs. It's the moments we spent sitting on the couch together watching Rudolph and Charlie Brown. It's the moment you laughed when your children saw the snow outside and begged to go out... at 6 a.m. It's not about having that one more gift, or making sure the wrapping paper works just right.

Take it from my inspiration, Kelle Hampton, where she wrote about whatever you have left to do, it's nothing important compared to the things that really matter.... let it go!

I asked you on the Mommy Stories Facebook discussion group what was stressing you out right now before Christmas. You wrote about traveling, keeping to routines, NAPS and exhaustion setting in, over-excitement, people expecting certain things from you or your kids that aren't in line with your regular expectations. You wrote about wanting to get that one more present, hoping you don't forget anything, wanting it to be PERFECT.

Here's the thing, moms.
It won't be.
Perfect, that is.
It just won't be.

Nothing is perfect in my opinion.
It just is what it is. It's up and down, chaotic and thrilling.
It's beautiful and oh so, very messy!

It's wrapping paper strewn everywhere, to the point that you will find scraps of it under your couch weeks from now.

It's a tree that's dying because you forgot to water it for the 10th time.
It's a tree with the most random assortment of non-breakable ornaments because the kids put them up in the same branch... and you let it stay that way because they were proud.

It's kids crying because they didn't get what they wanted or they got something they wanted but can't find it under the mass of presents, or someone stole their prized toy and were made to share by Great Aunt Milly.

It's family rolling their eyes and sighing at your child's antics and tantrums. And you feeling like that's so unfair and they just don't get it... but reminding yourself that it happens once a year.

It's burning cookies so you can't decorate them.
It's forgetting to hide the Elf on another shelf and making up a story that morning that he just preferred to stay there, he got lazy and tired from eating too many cookies. Yeah, that's it.

It's finding Christmas gifts you bought a month ago in your sweater drawer where you hid it... a week after Christmas.

It's worrying that you did not buy your children equal amounts of gifts and that they will notice... yet they don't notice things like that.

It will never be perfect.
It's about how you see things... how you find the beauty in the imperfections.

Finding Joy is one of my favorite mom blogs. This article sums it up perfectly... Her last line is:

"Perspective. That’s what it is. 
Life isn’t about perfection."

I also asked you also what you intend to do on Christmas Day to make sure it goes smoothly for you and the children. You had great ideas... let it go, ignore, have patience, keep to a routine, let go of a routine, follow your children's lead, have fun, rest... and more of "let it go."

I commend you moms if you can find peace in letting it go on Christmas.
It's ONE day. It's not the end of the world.

So, if your kids eat more sugar than you like... it's one day. Brush their teeth an extra time if it helps you feel better.

If your children seem ungrateful for the gifts they were given, chalk it up to their age. They aren't at an age where they know what real gratitude means or what it means to possibly hurt Gramma's feelings for not liking that itchy sweater. It doesn't mean you're a bad mom for not raising them right with values. It means it's Christmas Day and they want more, fun, loud, exciting, not sweaters that someday you know they'll appreciate.

It's all normal. It's all relative. Repeat that to yourself all day, and you'll be fine!

Here are a few specific ideas to help you manage your busy day tomorrow:

1. Get to bed early tonight. Keep your Christmas Eve routine as best as you can. I know many attend parties or church services, but do your best to keep it a regular night. You know they will be up early tomorrow, so do your best to get the sleep in this evening.

2. Make yourself a list. Check it twice. Write down all the things you want to remember to take in your car tomorrow, if you're heading out to various places. Camera charger? Phone charger? Snacks for the kids? Sippy cups and kid utensils? Bibs? Extra changes of clothes? That way when it's super exciting tomorrow morning you'll be ready.

3. Do bathing today or Thursday, not tomorrow. They'll be clean enough. It's just one more thing you don't have to deal with on Christmas Day. So wash them up today or the day after, but not on the big day. Let them be dirty and have fun instead of rushing to clean them up.

4. Package your gifts that need to be delivered in similar bags. I always put my gifts that go to various locations in one big bag. We use our LL Bean kids' travel tote bags, they're huge! I have one that goes to my in-law's house and one that goes to my mom's house... in it are the gifts we will deliver there, then we have a big bag to take gifts back to our house, without having to rely on the Christmas paper gift bags that always rip. Also, pack the car this way... things in the back of the car are things that you are dropping off last... things right at the trunk are things that are getting dropped off first. You think this may seem too organized, but I swear it'll help your day go smoother tomorrow.

5. Sigh and let it go. You've done enough. Accept that and move on. Yes, it's true, you could always do more. But there are reasons why you did not get that one more thing by today. Let whatever the reason was be ENOUGH. People will accept it and understand. Do what you can. If you felt like you wanted to do more but didn't, write it in a thoughtful card with a promise to spend quality time with that person after the holidays. They'll love that more than that "one more thing" you could have bought.

6. Keep your routine as much as you can... but be flexible. This is a tricky one. Manage the time that you can control. For example, if you are staying home first thing in the morning, make that time routine like you always do... let the kids wake when they wake, take a morning nap at their regular time, and eat breakfast like you usually do. Then when you're out somewhere during a time you'd typically be doing something else on your routine, be flexible but keeping in mind your child's needs. If you are going somewhere to eat a full course meal during a time your child typically is sleeping or only eating a snack, don't force them to eat with everyone. Let them play at your feet or even in the high chair with just a snack. It's not necessary to force the routine of others on your child. Just be a little flexible. If it's just not working, leave and go outside for a change of scenery.

7. Pack snacks. Hydrate. Keep your child eating and drinking all day... and you, too! It helps with the patience and cooperation factors. A full child is a happy one, typically. Even if that means not opening that one gift right now so you can stop and get some milk or crackers into your kid.

8. Don't force expectations. Yes, it would be lovely if your child opened each gift calmly, nicely, and made eye contact with the person who gave it to him and thanked them genuinely... but really?! That is not how your dinner time goes every night, so why would you expect it to be that way on a busy, excited, loud holiday?! Let go of those expectations and don't force your child to do things. Encourage, sure, but don't force. If he barely looks at his uncle when saying thanks for the gift he barely seemed to like, oh well, he's a kid, let it go. I'm sure they will understand.

9. Let them be messy. It's OK to not pick up the wrapping paper and boxes today. It's OK to let your kids explore various toys instead of putting one away before taking another out like on typical days. It's OK to lounge on the couch in pajamas while you watch their wonder and new creativity emerge. It's going to be busy and messy... that's just part of it. Enjoy that for what it's worth today: It means you are slowing down, being present, and enjoying them being little instead of rushing past this magical time.

10. Remember what it's about. When you're feeling annoyed, overwhelmed, stressed, worried, nervous, too busy... remember what this season is supposed to be about. Not presents. Not gift wrap. Not spending money. It's supposed to be about love, family, friends, hope, peace, and joy. It's about celebrating all of those things and more. Whether you are religious or not, I'm sure you agree, it's about all of those things. They matter. Your family's smiles matter. So put aside those other feelings today, and know that no matter what it's all wonderful!

May you smile often and relax lots tomorrow. You deserve it, mama. You have done ENOUGH. Let that be what you truly believe in your heart. You've done enough to make this a magical season for your children. Now, just enjoy.

:) Angela

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