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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

5 holiday traditions that make Christmas memorable for my 5 kids

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I'm writing this with the hat of a seasoned mom on, something I normally don't do. As a mom of 5 kids that range in age from 5 to 14 years old, I guess I am officially calling myself a seasoned mom. I've been there and done that a bunch of times as a mom and I've realized (pretty quickly) that with each new stage of motherhood comes new adventures, questions and head scratches! But – for the sake of this article – I'm putting on my seasoned mom hat and sharing something that I think it really important for moms and dads to do with their kids.

START HOLIDAY TRADITIONS. EASY ONES. DON'T STRESS YOURSELF OUT, FIND ONES THAT WORK FOR YOU!

It sound simple, yes... but I can't believe how many parents don't do this with their kids. Not that making holiday traditions is going to make or break your parenting, but it's something that you will look back on years and years from now and say, "Thank goodness I started that with them." This – I promise you.

I'm going to share with you 5 holiday traditions that I've been doing for years in our family that are easy, special and memorable for our kids.

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TRADITION #1

When my first child celebrated his 1st Christmas he was 3 months old. I actually remember still get my parenting sea legs straight, so much of it is a blur. I was exhausted. I was still so new at everything. And I had just gone back to work full-time. I was so tired that 1st Christmas with William, but as we were packing up Christmas Eve and saying good-bye to family for the night my father said to me, "Make sure you read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to William."

My first thought? "WHAT? William is 3 months old!" But my father said to me, "I've been reading it to all of you guys since you were babies, too. It's a tradition."

And so – that night – as William sat there, all 3 months of him, we read him 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The next year William had a baby brother Alex sitting next to him as we read it. And then the year after another brother and then (yes!) the next year another brother! And now – Victoria sits with them as we read it. This holiday tradition started on William's 1st Christmas and we've continued it – each year – as much as I've thought they'd get "sick" of it as the years rolled by, it's something they actually ask for before they head up to bed on Christmas... even now being "in" on the magic of Santa. I have this grand idea in my head that when they go off and start their own families someday, we will gift them with this book so they can start it with their own family.

TRADITION #2

This is an easy one for moms and dads– start a Cookie Night! My mom started this tradition after all of her kids had kids! It's just one night before Christmas where we all gather at my mom and dad's house to bake cookies. We make ONE type of cookie, not a zillion – but we laugh and joke and all just enjoy each other! I think I appreciate this tradition so much because there's nothing attached to the night... no gifts, no dressing up, no professional photos, no fancy dinner! It's just baking and family. The best.

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TRADITION #3

MATCHING PAJAMAS! I started this tradition the very first year we had 2 kids! I actually remember heading to the GAP in NYC and finding these adorable red fleece pajamas with white trim for both of the boys. I'm telling you – a tradition was born that very day! The kids looked so cute in their jammies! I've been doing this tradition for 13 years with our kids and it still tears me up when I see them all in them! I feel like I'm on borrowed time with my oldest sons, but they roll with it every single year and it means the world to me. I think I'm guilting them a little bit by putting up all the old holiday matching pajama photos, just so they know how much it means to me! You don't have to buy expensive pajamas – and take my advice – buy right the next year right after this holiday! Buy up a size and you'll have everything set a year in advance!!

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TRADITION #4

Find a holiday movie that you all can sit down and watch together! We're big ELF fans... so every year – usually right before Christmas, I call "Holiday Movie Night!" The kids all can't make plans with friends or invite anyone over! It's just US. We make popcorn. We watch the movie. And we sit around in our jammies! It's a realxing, wonderful night for me and my husband! Not to mention – as they're getting older – we can add in some fun ones like Christmas Vacation!

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TRADITION #5

Visit to Santa at the local mall. This one always gets me! My mom made my sister and I go all the way through college! I knew it meant a lot to her, so we always went – dressed up – and smiled big on Santa's lap! This is such an iconic photo for a family and it's a tradition that is easy and only takes a short amount of time!! The best part is nowadays Santa is everywhere – not just at the malls!

I wanted to share 5 EASY traditions because I feel like we put so much pressure on ourselves to decorate the house from top to bottom and volunteer for school activities and ... we just run ourselves ragged! Find easy traditions that you can do with your family that will mean something, but also things that your kids will remember! I love sharing what we do over on Mom Generations, and as you can see – I make sure to make it as stress-free as possible! Yes – even with 5 kids!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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