If you read this blog regularly, you already know that I haven't yet stepped foot in a bricks-and-mortar store to do my Christmas shopping, so you're probably wondering, "what's she so stressed about?". I mean, really... no crowds and crying/whining kids to contend with; no racing around like a mad woman trying to track down that "must-have" gift of 2011... just web-surfing, mouse-clicking, credit-card-entering and voilá - you're done!
Well, it's not quite that simple. (But, you knew that! ;)
As parents, we know that instilling traditions in our kids and giving them the wonderful experiences we enjoyed as kids (or wish we did) is more important than any of the material things we could ever buy them. We bend over backwards, stay up late, do whatever we need to make the holidays special, because these are memories our children will have forever. We want to do activities with our kids, but sometimes need to get creative in order to get our tasks done but still have fun.
So, here are a few "holiday helpers" that just might take some of the insanity our of your schedule.
1. Baking with the kids
Okay, when I saw this one, I laughed. You see, it's meant to be a joke, but I think it's a great idea. While I'm busy making cookies "with" my kids, they can be playing around with this and we're all happy! No little hands picking their noses then putting them in the cookie dough, yet they're having a blast "decorating" the cookies. (Yes, I know, it's a cupcake decorator, but they don't have to know that... cookies would work too, no?)
2. Crafts, crafts and MORE crafts!
My daughter can't get enough of crafts... and it couldn't make me happier. :) Visit your local dollar store and stock up on seasonal foam cut-outs, stick-on jewels, pom poms, stickers and whatever else your kid(s) will enjoy. Then, give 'em a glue stick, some washable markers and let them go nuts. Trust me, you will have a solid hour or more to yourself. If you haven't already tried this, DO IT! :)
3. Give them chores
This one sounds like it would go over like a lead balloon with the kids, but it's all in how you present it. First off, buy some of our Stick-eez™ clothing labels. Then on the next cold blustery day, make some hot chocolate, put on a holiday show (Frosty the Snowman, anyone?) and drop a huge pile of clothes and the pack of labels in front of the kids. Show them where you want the labels to go (on the clothing tags) and tell them you need stickers on all the clothes. Kids love stickers no matter what kind they are... they'll do it (and save you some time)!
4. Babysitter swap
Let's face it, babysitters are expensive. If you had to pay someone to watch your kids every time you wanted to step out to run errands or go grocery shopping sans kids, you'd be broke! Instead, get a group of neighbourhood moms together and work out a babysitting swap schedule. If there were five moms, each mom could take a day and, say, each afternoon a different mom could rotate watching the whole lot of kids after school. The kids will have a blast hanging out with their friends and, for only 2 hours of craziness, you'd get 8 hours of sanity in return!
5. Make meals in advance
At this time of year, I don't even think about making supper until 5:30 or 6:00... and by that time, I'm stuck! So, take one Saturday afternoon and make a few batches of the family's favourites - lasagna, meatballs, eggplant parmesan - and freeze them. It'll help you to enjoy mealtime with your kids and not get harried when life gets busy. (It comes in handy when unexpected guests pop by, too!)
Here's to a fun, memorable and, most of all, stress-free holiday!