Like many of you, I am a working mom. The holidays are by far my favorite time of year and sometimes I struggle with the expectations (in my head) of exactly what I should be doing to make the holidays more festive. The reality is that I come home after a long day of work and the last thing I think about is how to decorate the house or design the perfect Christmas card. So, here at the Expecting Mama’s network, we’ve come up with a few things to help bring that holiday cheer to your happy home without all the back breaking work.
9 Ways Working Mamas Can Enjoy the Holidays
1. Forget perfection!
know that in this heavy mass media world we are bombarded with Pinterest inspired holiday décor or the cover of Better Homes and Gardens Holiday edition, but you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, being far from perfect has made me and my family a lot happier. When I push for perfection I often end up disappointed or the kids end up frustrated. Trust me, you’ll get a better Christmas photo if you tell your kids a corny joke instead of forcing them to sit still.
2. Start early and start small.
In our family we do things slowly and really appreciate the holiday season. Between thanksgiving and Christmas, we put up the tree one weekend and decorate slowly up until Christmas. I also do all my Christmas shopping well before the holiday season. This makes me feel a lot more relaxed and lot less concerned about what I’m going to buy.
3. Get the family involved.
Letting your kids take charge is a great way to not feel like all the responsibility is on you, but will help your kids learn independence as well as giving them a chance to be in charge. My older boys love this! This means that when planning a holiday meal, the kids get to choose some of the dishes or make the grocery list. Give them a chance to shine! For my little ones, I let them set the table or put the ornaments on the tree, or even draw a picture for the Christmas card.
4. Think small.
Every year I want to do this extravagant advent calendar and every year I end up falling short. This year I purchased the cardboard calendars with the little punch out chocolates and you know what? My kids were just as happy as ever! Remember, it isn’t about “Go Big or Go home!” it’s about making memories. You’re kids aren’t going to look back at their childhood and wish you had been more of a Pinterest Mom. They’re going to remember the time you spent with them singing Christmas carols and dancing in the hallways or putting on a Christmas hat and pretending you are Santa Claus while you chase your reindeer (also known as your kids) in the backyard.
5. Buy pre-made.
When it comes to holiday dinner, I always want to make a feast! I want to have the table full of food and my kids sitting around it peacefully saying, “Can I have some more please?” Of course, if you have kids, you know that many of them are picky eaters. I have four and that means there is always someone who is not happy their potatoes are touching their turkey. I’ve learned that I don’t have to make everything from scratch every single time. I buy the pre-made pies, make stuffing from a box, and green beans from a can. That doesn’t mean that my holiday meal is anything less than wonderful! The kids don’t care whether you spent an hour in the kitchen or 8!
6. Think ahead!
I can’t tell you how important my calendar is. With four kids and four different schedules, I need to be able to be four different places and ready to go! The holiday season is the same, but to the MAX! Not only will we be invited to multiple friends’ homes, we go visit family. I also need to schedule day care and afterschool care for during the holiday break. All of this requires that I think ahead and keep my calendar handy. I bullet journal and that really helps me to keep organized. Click here for a few of my favorite bullet planners.
7. Enlist family.
It’s okay to ask for help. Grandma and Grandpa make great helpers. Often they are more eager to get involved than you know, Aunties and Uncles too! My mother lives very far from me, but she still sends Christmas letters and boxes of crafts for the kids. The crafts are easy enough for them to do independently but fun enough to hold their attention.
8. Plan a weekend holiday excursion.
If you have the weekends off, plan some time to take your kids to do something “holiday” themed. Every year we always go to see the Christmas lights. Afterwards we make hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie. I love this idea because all I had to do was navigate (dad drove) and the kids loved it. Remember that things don’t have to be extravagant to be fun! Go sledding or apple picking, the “free” fun-cations are at your fingertips.
9. Go window shopping.
There is no easier way to get into the holiday spirit than to go window shopping. Not only do you not have to do the extra work of decorating, you get to enjoy the spirit of the holidays. I particularly love to take picture with my kids posing in front of all the wonderful holiday decorations. Nothing easier than going to the mall!
10. Figure out what’s important.
If putting up the tree is what your family really likes, put that tree up! If it’s making Christmas cards together, sit down and do it. Trying to do everything during the holidays can be a challenge, but doing one thing is manageable. Figuring out what your family wants is just the start to a great holiday season.
I hope you find the time this year to be together and don’t forget that your family is more important than any decorations. Have any thoughts on how to make the most of your holiday season even when you have to work? Please share it in the comments!
Wife and mother of twins. Founder of Pride & Joy Baby Planners and The Expecting Mamas Network.