Let me start by saying the holidays can be overwhelming...DUH!
Between the last minute shopping, the crazy drivers at Target, the kids on winter break (send help) and the house being a mess, I want to scream....I don't think I am alone, am I right?
This year I decided to take back the holiday season. My husband was deployed last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I was kind of out of steam early in the season, I had hoped to take back the holiday's last year. However, I didn't have someone to help me with the kids when I decided to jam pack winter break with activities. On top of planning Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas brunch, and making sure presents were bought AND the elf....oh the elf.....
This year however, he is "home." While being home he is still working as a police officer (any leow out there knows what I am talking about). He is present in the house, but probably sleeping, or in zombie mode. Although, he will be off work in time to see our kids open presents, go to sleep and head to my parents house. Small victory for us!
With that little bit of back story this is how I am happier this season and enjoying the season with less stress.
I decorated EARLY! To all you Negative Nancy's out there thinking I am forcing an elf to drown a reindeer I hear you. Seriously though, Christmas decorations, music and my home smelling like a gift shop/bakery make me genuinely happier.
Decorating early also forced me to be a little more proactive with getting some presents purchased. This is always my downfall, I buy things throughout the year and loose them in the basement. Only to find them after their birthdays are passed. This past year I kept a spreadsheet on my computer with the present, it's location in the house and price I paid. I felt less overwhelmed with this system and think it might stay.
The next thing I did was start a menu early for Christmas Brunch. I created it about the second week in December and had the grocery list already written out. I decided to make it a separate shopping excursion versus piling it all in with my weekly grocery trip. Then I end up using the ingredients I needed for a special dish and end up back at the grocery store. Thank goodness for grocery delivery, so I didn't even have to leave the house, because well...people. I was also able to schedule it for the day before I needed it, meaning I won't eat all the Oreo's before I have a chance to make the Oreo balls.
The last thing I did was devise a plan to keep my kids busy. Remember that husband I was talking about earlier. He works overnights meaning he sleeps during the day. Not a huge deal when the kids are at school/daycare. BIG problem when they are home. We don't have a quiet button, although they try. Bless their hearts. Winter break is super exciting for the first few days. Mostly because their toys are a new fun thing to play with, you might be traveling, or want to quick make some of those Hallmark movie memories. However, that week in-between the New Year and Christmas DRAGS on. I created a list with a few movies in theaters that we want to see, pottery painting, bowling, laser tag, mini golf, tubing (if we ever get some real snow), open gym at my daughters gymnastics academy, and free skate at my sons hockey rink. All great things to do and most of them either free or cheap thanks to Groupon. I told the kids that we should be able to do one thing a day and that will help with the "I am bored" saga.
Speaking of the "I am bored" nag, I created a sign that says:
- Read for 20 minutes
- Craft for 20 minutes
- Make sure your room is clean (bed made, laundry put where it belongs, etc)
- Check to see if you could clean something in a main living space (dishwasher, floor, table/counter)
- Ask your sibling if they want to play a board game or take pity on you and play
- Play with the dog
- If you still feel bored Repeat....there is always something to be picked up or cleaned.
The last list I made (can you see a trend? I love a list) was a breakfast and lunch check-list. I am planning to let them pick breakfast and lunch while on winter break, so long as they agree on it. I am not a line cook, so this is a new and exciting option they have. Typically they do not get too much input when it comes to meals. I might occasionally ask them what they would like to see on the weeks menu, but to give them the opportunity to choose their meals for the week is uncharted territory. I am hoping that the meals that I have pre-selected will also allow them the option to help me prep the meals if they wish. They are both incredibly helpful in the kitchen, so this could be the time for them to learn a little bit more about cooking. I am really looking forward to following up and seeing if we survived break and what changed I think will be needed in order to make it through *gulp* summer break...
I really hope you are able to take back your holiday and live a little less stressed out!