Okay mamas let’s talk about it. The stress from the incredible pressure we have both from our families, culture and our own damn selves, at holiday time. I know you want to make it magical. So do I. I absolutely adore Christmas. I think my house looks best bedecked in glowing lights and greenery.
Growing up it was something my parents worked towards all year to make happen. I remember even as a little girl going with my mother to K-mart for her to put things on layaway for Christmas.
Come Christmas morning there was not just the gifts I kind of knew were coming but all of Santa’s surprises. Big gifts built seemingly out of thin air. Secretly this was my parents up half the night assembling a bike. Cookies gone in the night. Footsteps in the snow. It was truly a sight to behold. However, I feel like that magic meter has gotten higher and higher every year and I’ve started to dread the countdown.
And let’s be truthful, holiday magic is made by MOTHERS. Yes, there are exceptions. There are men who love to decorate the tree and string lights and buy gifts. But how many fathers do you know arranging for family photoshoots, pouring over Pinterest, and just generally managing the schedule of all the “MUST DO’s” before the holidays actually hit? I know like two.
And you and I both know that’s one long ass list. Let’s guess how many are handled by Mom in hetero couples? Let’s see…. 90%.
Christmas magic is emotional labor and emotional labor is mostly done by women.
So I’d like to present to you my best ways to keep the stress to a minimum. I like to call it a LAZY MOM’S CHRISTMAS. What if we calmed down a bit, and took a more low key approach? Here is how I’m going to start.
By saying NO.
Say no to anything and everything that doesn’t bring you joy. Say no to volunteering at school for crafts. Say no to driving to your in-laws hours away. Say no to ANYTHING that brings you more stress than fun.
My friend’s mother in law expected her to heat her plates when she visited. I was shocked. She was exhausted and worn down. She feels it’s necessary to pull out all the stops for her guests and I hope it was worth it, I do know she’s an incredible hostess. But I still think she should just say no. Nancy Reagan wasn’t right about much but that slogan sticks with me. It helps me a lot in parenting and life in general.
Make that list WITH your family. It will all be work, so find out what it is that makes the most impact for you and your family. Yes this applies to families with older kids but I’ll get to that. I know some families who had their kid’s hearts broken by skipping something in the craziness of the holidays that they didn’t think was important. It was a toothbrush in their kids stocking. Yep, it was something they probably already had in the house. Sometimes it’s the small things that actually make the memories.
If you sit down with your family and ask what they think are the best parts/traditions of the holidays, I bet they’ll tell you. Then break it down to who is going to do what. My dad would call me his elf in training, and I loved it. This works especially well after your kid realizes that Santa isn’t real and that magic is a choice we make to have fun with each other. When they are small you have an even better choice; which is only do the traditions you really like in the first place. They know nothing after all!
Hear me out about older kids though because they definitely understand more fun and less work.
That is what kids are best at! Children are far more empathetic and aware than we give them credit for. My friend Sarah is so good with this. She has had multiple Christmas’s where their family didn’t buy anything. They made all their gifts or did experiences. This is a trend that is getting pretty popular.
This year she is straight up SKIPPING CHRISTMAS.
Nuts right? Nope they decided together it be far more fun to rent a ghost town for a week and play dress up. Isn’t that amazing!? That will be something they will never ever forget, unlike the toys that will be pushed under a bed or broken by next year. Maybe you don’t want to skip Christmas, I know I don’t but I do want it to be less work. And let’s talk some more about gifts.
Don’t Buy Stuff For Adults
Yeah I know this may not go over well with some people but think about it this way; what do we value most? TIME. Time is our most precious commodity. It is also how we make memories. It’s a hard thing to break to people, especially if they really love buying things but I think it brings the stress level way down. And truthfully as adults we can buy ourselves the things we really want. It seem almost silly to exchange gifts with every person in your life. Have you seen this tweet?
This is that magical time of year when me and my brother in law exchange money in the form of gift cards of equal value.
— Goats? (@Gooooats) December 3, 2018
I limited my list to just kids and my husband Oliver (it’s also his birthday so I get him a really big gift) plus white elephant or secret santas because that isn’t a lot. This is what I posted to break the news.
“Friends and family I’m making an announcement. This year instead of gifts I’d like your time. I’d like us to make memories together. At the end of the day that’s what we will remember. If you and I have never gotten gifts for each other before, please do not buy me a gift. If you think you found the perfect thing, consider getting it for yourself as a gift from me! It’s beautiful after all. But truly I would love to experience something with you, whether it’s dinner, coffee, a concert or anything else. I just want to keep the memories of our friendship. If you really want to get me something you can donate in my name to RAICES or Planned Parenthood both of whom are in more need than I am. By the way Oliver this doesn’t apply to you. ;)”
Now let’s talk about cards. No not cards against humanity, I love that game.
When we were kids Christmas cards were simply a card you bought in bulk and signed. Maybe the over achievers added a yearly newsletter but that was not the norm. Now we do photo-shoots, buy special clothes and make amazing gorgeous cards. Then we compile lists up to a hundred people. Assembling all of this can take days. Believe me I just did mine (because it’s something I actually do love to give and receive. Again it’s about choices).
If you do not enjoy this chore then listen up friend. Let me tell you about this amazing website called Facebook. It exists to share things like news and photos. You can just add it there and be done! Or if you love making the cards just give them out at parties and only mail to those of whom live far away.
Pro-tip make them say Happy New Year if you know you tend to be late. Then it is good ALL YEAR. Those are the rules okay!?
Santa! I KNOW HIM!
It’s gonna be really obvious what I’m about to say to most people. Go to the cheapest one you can find that has the shortest line. Me and my friends went to Knotts Berry Farm which happens to have a Santa. There was no line. Our toddlers wore matching PJ’s and cried like they were being tortured. It was hilarious and they took pics on our phones! Don’t stress yourself out, this doesn’t even NEED to be done yearly.
BREAK THAT ELF’S LEGS
Yeah I said it, and I’m not sorry. Merry Perriwinkle McGee or whatever his stupid name is needs to be put in his place. And his place (other than on a shelf in Target where he should have stayed) is on your mantle with a note saying he had a skiing accident on Candy Cane mountain. He now needs to rest until Christmas, on Santa’s orders. If it’s not clear, I do not enjoy the elf on the shelf. How did this even become a thing? It didn’t exist when we were kids and Christmas was plenty magical. It’s also a weird creepy thing to have “watching” your children. I thought Santa already saw us when we were sleeping, isn’t that bad enough? I want to reiterate that this is about choices. If you love the elf, DO IT. Go for it. Spend some time on Pinterest, buy an elf kit if you want to have some fun but aren’t that creative. But if you don’t, don’t let the pressure of keeping up with whatever Timmy at school has at his house change things. Do what makes you happy.
Santa’s gifts shouldn’t be huge. What if a child at school’s family doesn’t have much money? Then they are gonna be real confused why Santa brought your kid a bike but they didn’t get anything at all.
But let’s make it even easier. Do not stress yourself hiding special paper for those gifts. Either leave them out unwrapped with a note by the empty cookie plate or click this to get a Santa sack. BAM, DONE.
Gifts for Teachers
Let me clear something up right here and right now. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is getting their teacher. I heard recently some parents give massage gift certificates or $100 bottles of champagne. That’s cool, but your kid’s teacher didn’t go into it for the gifts at holiday time. Don’t feel the mom guilt if you can’t afford that. They went into this profession because they love kids. They will appreciate literally anything. One of my friends told me the gift they loved best last year was a half burnt candle because the little girl loved how it smelled and wanted to bring something, but knew her family couldn’t afford it. See it’s the little things!
If you CAN go and get a gift card from Starbucks or Target and call it a day. Whether it’s $10 or $50 they will love it and it will go a long way. If you really want to help out, buy some things for their classroom. Don’t bake them anything, it takes time and energy and you don’t know what allergies they may have. Holidays shouldn’t be about competition, it should be about showing love. Afraid that is too impersonal? Add a handmade card from your kid. They actually love that shit as much as you do.
Don’t Overbook Yourself
This is the one I find the hardest to stick to. I worry I’ll miss something or have regret if I stay in. But my happiest memories are not at parties. My anxiety skyrockets trying to be multiple places in a day. In fact I’m sick right now because of it. Take a lesson from me and try to only do one major activity a weekend. If you do more than one a week give it a little space.
Make Good Choices Lazy Mamas
Here is where I repeat myself because I want to be really clear. What you do for your holiday is about what makes you and your family happy. YOU being happy is a huge part of that. A stressed out and frustrated mom is not a fun relaxed one who remembers the little moments and makes their kids eyes sparkle, plus tbh sometimes kids just aren’t that appreciative because they have no idea what we are doing. Same with husbands. Committing to a million activities will make them all blend together. Giving/getting a thousand gifts makes it hard to choose one to play with. Choose the things you love.
Happy Holidays Lazy Moms, and good luck out there. I’ll be hanging in my pj’s while I sit next to my pre-lit Christmas tree drinking pre-mixed egg nog. Because that is what makes me happy. I hope you find a balance and your days are merry and bright.