Working parent households are always short on time. I know that’s a broad statement, but in my experience it’s true. There are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week, to get everything done. And when the holidays are approaching your time becomes even more precious.
I don’t know about you, but I am happy not doing “all the things” over the holiday season. In fact, I count on people not dropping by, and not asking me to parties and other events.
When I do get asked to stop by parties or events, I give the idea a lot of thought and run it through my schedule. Sometimes I say no – not only because I can’t (schedule conflicts) but also because I don’t want to fill every moment with things.
Knowing your limit will help you stay true to yourself and your family during the busy holiday season.
Here are the top five things I don’t do over the holiday season:
Make handmade gifts
I used to do this. I would spend every evening (before I got into writing) with yarn in hand, creating hats and scarves for friends and family. The reward never seemed to be worth the effort. Yes, I didn’t have to go shop for gifts, but I’m a slow crocheter. I would have to start these at the end of the summer to get more than one done by Christmas!
Now I like to write (or read) in my spare time, and my spare time is quite lacking, so I’ve given up on crafting gifts. And really, how many scarves does one person need?
I do encourage my girls to be creative for gifts. If they’ve been drawing or painting, or were gifted a craft kit for a birthday, I’ll suggest they create something to give grandparents, because we all know grandparents love handmade articles from their grandkids!
Buy individualized gifts for everyone
When we had to buy for all Patrick’s nieces and nephews we would save a ton of time by buying movie passes for them all. Sure, it’s not a well-thought-out, personalized gift, but there are six of them who range over almost 10 years, so it was quick and easy.
Those kids do their own gift exchange with each other, so we’re off the hook for them now. They are also all 18+ so they don’t count as “kids” anymore. Now we buy for our three youngest nieces. Two of them are sisters so I look for a game or other gift they would enjoy together.
My sister and I don’t even buy gifts for each other. She buys for my kids and my kids buy for her, but we don’t need anything. Exchanging bottles of wine, or gift cards, is really a waste of time – or so we decided. I mean we can buy our own bottles of wine, right?
I love looking at Christmas decor. All the seasonal imagery can be beautiful, but I don’t want it in my house. I have a hard enough time keeping my home tidy with all our regular crap in it. The moment I add more “things” I start to lose my sanity.
Every year we put up a tree. We decorate it from our four boxes of decor, and hide those boxes downstairs for the week (maybe two) that the tree is up. Then we bring those boxes back upstairs after Christmas and reload everything back into them. And that’s about it. We have some Christmas window stickies, stuffies and decor that sit around the house. Some of that comes out most years, but we don’t do Christmas villages or change out our cushions or artwork or any of that time-consuming stuff.
If I were tidier overall, or if we had a home with a different layout and storage options, I might do a bit more decorating. But time is tight, and no one comes over to enjoy it, so why waste my energy doing something that just needs to be undone?
I used to think I would like to hold a Christmas open house every year. Invite family, friends and neighbours to stop by for a drink and a snack to spread the holiday cheer. But life really doesn’t allow for that.
Between working all week, dance schedules (and sometimes seasonal performances and rehearsals), school events, work parties, and coordinating family visits, there are no free weekends after Halloween. Also, my home is small and cramped for a gathering. I only host things when the weather is nice, in the hopes we can have everyone outside.
I say no to a lot of things in the holiday season. Sometimes it’s No, we can’t come to your open house, or No, we’re not heading to every Christmas-themed thing happening downtown or at the local library branches. We pick and choose our seasonal events, and usually, everyone is okay with it.
I have never hosted Christmas at my house. My husband’s family is simply too big to be comfortable in our awkward home. We do Christmas morning at home with the girls, but then we go to whomever is hosting this year for the family gathering.
I could host my family – it’s only 3 extra people – but my parents live halfway between my sister and I, so they are the logical gathering place. And trust me, I am NOT complaining! The idea of having a houseful of people – and feeding them – ramps up my anxiety like nobody’s business.
So, what DON’T you do over the holidays? I’d love to hear how you make the busy season work for your family.
It’s absolutely okay to not fill every moment of your time. The holiday season is full enough of “need to do”s, make sure you don’t overload yourself with “should do”s too!
Here’s a fun collection of Things Working Mom’s Shouldn’t Do This Holiday Season, on Working Mother.
Leave me a note below – maybe you’ll inspire me to leave something else out of my holiday planning as well!