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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE everything about this time of year. Just listening to the music makes me feel a unique sense of joy that only December brings. I have to admit though, as a working homeschool mom, the thought of all of the festivities this month makes me cringe just a little. I’m so busy. There is SO much going on. Too much. And people can turn into nut cakes trying to do so much. I will be lucky if I have the time to get the tree completely decorated and all of my presents kept in one piece by the time December 25th rolls around. While I do try to do special things with my kids, it’s easy to feel like a bad parent when you can’t be the cool Christmas (or other holidays you may celebrate) mom or dad who seems to run on a clock with 36 hours instead of 24. As working homeschool moms, we have to prioritize this Christmas season. Sometimes, we just gotta keep it simple.
I’m here to say that you aren’t a terrible person if you don’t go all “Christmas with the Cranks” this holiday season. You haven’t totally screwed up if you don’t include a random act of kindness or special Christmas Bible devotional every single day. You are still a great mom even if you don’t bake something with angel wings and red and green sprinkles. You still totally rock even if you don’t hit every local event your community offers. You are doing a good job even if you don’t do every activity you find on Pinterest – Elf on the Shelf included! You are a fabulous mom even if you don’t do ANY extras at all. It’s okay. Seriously. It’s okay to simmer down on the whole Christmas activity planning thing. And truthfully, your kids will thank you some day. This time of year means so much more than a list of activities and crafts!
When I was a kid, I remember a few special traditions with my family, and they are some of my very favorite memories. But, they were nothing big. You see, I am from a small family. My mom was pretty much a single chick who worked up to THREE jobs at a time. Things were tight. Our Christmas moments were simple but special. Although I do remember feeling pretty envious of those friends of mine who had moms who went all out, now that I’m an adult, I’m thankful for not having so much happening during my childhood Christmases. The few things we did hold so much more value than a month full of things that dilute the true meaning of Christmas. Most of my memories are just me spending time with my family. I love that so much!
Last year, I wrote a post about keeping Christmas SIMPLE and I plan to continue that this year. I want this to be a time of rest and peace, focused on the True Gift. Not a time for me to lose my head, longing for January 1st. Now that I’m working more, keeping things simple is even more important.
With all that said, we do have a little fun! As a busy family, creativity and flexibility rule though. If it’s going to make a huge mess in my house, I won’t be planning on doing it. If it requires huge amounts of time on my part…or money…I won’t be doing that either. Our time is thin and I’m not going to waste it on keeping up with the cool Christmas family.
Below are some easy things to do to make this time of year feel special…many you probably already do. Do these with a little emphasis on how special it is, and it will make lasting memories without all the fuss.
- Turn your Christmas tree selection into a family event! Even if it is just to the tree-mart down the road. Make this a special time. Take pictures. Get cocoa. Spend the extra time with this one. You will have to look at your tree for the next several days or weeks. Put a lot of love into it!
- On the way home from a night time appointment, spend an extra 20-30 minutes looking at Christmas lights. Your local Facebook friends can point you to the best streets to drive down. Do this a few times during the month of December instead of packing it all into one night. My kids never last long before falling asleep, so we keep this short. Don’t forget to include music, slippers, and fuzzy blankets in the car!
- Find a family in need and help them out this Christmas. Some ideas include a gift basket with foods and fun games or household items, finding a giving tree program, or helping someone with a home task. If doing a basket, spend an extra 5 minutes during your grocery shopping a few times to shop for another family; then let your kids put the basket together. Hand made cards from the kids are also a nice touch.
- Have a Christmas movie marathon complete with hot cocoa, pajamas, slippers, and the phone turned OFF! Some of my favorites are Christmas Vacation, Elf, The Christmas Card, Polar Express, and the The Nativity Story. I’d save this for a day that you are exhausted so you can knock out two things at once. We working homeschool moms need to multitask!
- Take the kids to the store and allow each one to choose a new ornament that is theirs to keep. Start a box for them so they will have a collection of their own ornaments when they move out of the house. You can even spend the evening decorating their special ornament box.
- If you have the opportunity to provide books focused on the season, this is a nice touch. Don’t stress over this though. It might be more work than it’s worth. I like to focus on books that are rich in history and tradition. This would also be the time to focus Bible reading on Jesus’ birth.
- Do one messy project….just do it. Ginger bread houses are a good option. These are simple and provide hours of fun. There are endless choices for kits on Amazon or the local grocery store. This is the ONE mess I allow for Christmas craziness. And in all honesty, I save this “fun” one for my husband to do when I’m at work. Then hopefully, the mess is not my mess but his. 😉
- Instead of baking every holiday recipe in your cookbook arsenal, pick 1-3 special goodies to focus on. Teach your kids how to make them, and then let the kids package and deliver to neighbors and friends only if you can easily get to them. My family always made banana bread and peanut butter fudge every year. My mom still does it to this day. I have been known to just raid my mom’s handy work during busy years!
- Plan a snow day for AFTER Christmas. The snow will be better in January and February anyway.
- Set a goal to do one community event and don’t waiver. We like to find a nativity, however, there are tons of options out there. Committing to one helps you not feel overwhelmed but also provides a good time for your family.
If you do more than this, great. But don’t feel like you have to. As working homeschool moms or dads, this shouldn’t be a time of year that is full of stress. Instead, it should be a time of making memories and enjoying your family, remembering what is truly important.
What do you do as a busy or working homeschool mom to keep things stress free at Christmas?