Full disclosure, it took me years and years of raising kids for me to realize that I was making Christmas was more complicated and stressful than I needed to. From standing in long lines on Black Friday at 5am to trying to make sure everyone was perfectly dressed in their Christmas best. It all became too much and I found myself more stressed out at Christmas than any other time of the year. So much so that I wasn’t even able to fully enjoy the holiday itself. Then I realized, I had been doing Christmas all wrong. It was time to take a more minimalistic approach. I needed to try less, care more and eliminate all the unnecessary stuff. This is exactly what I did to create a clutter free, less stress Christmas
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I know there is a great debate going ’round the world about when it is officially appropriate to start listening to Christmas music. Personally, I am not about to live my life avoiding things that bring me joy because someone else thinks it’s too early in the year for me to be happy. I mean, how silly is that.
Not only does Christmas music fill the entire room with joy, but music itself has a powerful way of raising our sprits and lifting our mood.
When you are stuck in the car with your kids, turn on your favorite carols. If you have a long trip to Grandma’s house, bust out those tunes, plaster a smile on your face, and just enjoy the ride…even if it’s stop-and-go traffic.
I’m totally wincing at this one, because I know so many people who are going to stop reading right now. That’s ok. A few years back, when I decided to call it quits on Christmas cards it actually turned into a huge Facebook debate and people were actually mad at me. So before you decide I’m holding Christmas hostage, let me explain my reasoning.
Don’t get me wrong, we do a Christmas photo every year, and people love them. We maybe print a few photos for grandmas and everyone else gets to enjoy our photo via social media. This one has proven to be the most popular thus far.
I get that a lot of people love Christmas cards and if that’s you, then send them! Do what actually brings you joy during this joyful time of year.
But, if you’re like me and just send Christmas cards out of obligation and guilt, I highly suggest you save the cash and additional effort. Maybe take that $50 and find a way to give to others…something besides a Christmas card.
I am guilty, like most moms, of browsing all the Pinterest Christmas boards. (PS here is one of mine!)
As I scroll through all the beautiful, clean photos, I dream of a house that looks calm and elegant at Christmas time. Then reality hits and I have a tree covered in popsicle sticks disguised as reindeer and I remember Christmas isn’t about my idea of perfection. It’s about family, specifically, it’s about my kids. They love decorating the tree and ever since my husband and I met 11 years ago, we have a tradition of picking out our own ornaments. That means my tree is covered with miscellaneous, mis-matched ornaments. But, they are our ornaments; they make up all of our years together and remind us what we each thought was special through the years.
I’m not saying totally bail on Christmas with your family. Family to me is the center of Christmas; that’s why I think it is crucial to take one day where you don’t go anywhere, where you can calm down and spend time with your kids. My husband and I decided many years ago that Christmas Eve was spent with extended family and Christmas Day is spent at home doing nothing. We stock up on food, spend the day in our pajamas, and let the kids trash the house with all their new goodies.
Don’t get caught up in the stress of feeling like you need to please everyone or make it to every gathering. It is absolutely 100% okay to chill at home.
More Simple Christmas Tips
This week I gave my kids each one garbage bag (I wanted to start with two but quickly realized that was not a battle I was willing to fight.) I reminded them that they were asking for new gifts for Christmas and that meant we had to make room for them.
Out with the old, in with the new. That’s what Christmas and New Years are all about? Right?
With a loving heart I remind them that there really are toys they own that don’t get used but might bring another child a lot of joy. This is a tradition I am starting with them every year now because the overwhelming amount of toys that fill our home December 26 just got to be too much. So I decided to get ahead of the game. This year I’m also hoping to do a New Year’s sweep. I think after receiving all their new Christmas gifts, they will be willing to let go of more things.
The biggest challenge I have faced when letting my kids choose what goes is letting go of my attachments. Even if I bought them a toy I thought they’d really want, or bunny pajamas from their favorite aunt. At the end of the day, I don’t want them to feel obligated to be attached to material things. I don’t want them to feel guilty for making priorities in their lives. (We do have boxes that we keep special keepsakes in.)
When our two youngest were in preschool, they would always want to give their toys to their friends. I always let them, no matter what it was. The teachers eventually got used to it and understood that I was hoping to instill the gift of giving in them at a young age. Which after all is what Christmas is all about, right?
Let go of your ideas of perfection. Embrace the chaos that comes with the holidays and “cut the fat” where you can. If you want to hit up all 8 holiday parties, live on an all carb diet, spoil your kids like crazy or send out the most perfectly designed Christmas card, do it! Do what lights you up and lifts your spirit. At the end of the day, just try to feel the immense joy that is possible this time of year.
Have a Fetch Christmas guys, or whatever else you may be celebrating this time of year!