There are FIFTEEN days till Christmas and I am SOOOOOOOO excited!!! I have not been happy for the holidays in so so so long! Like, seriously.
I thought last year- C.C.’s 1st Christmas- was going to be this overwhelmingly joyous occasion anddd it wasn’t, lol. I quickly came to realize that being a mom on Christmas is wayyy different than being a child- go figure, right? Anyway, last year I was overwhelmed with all of the family we had to see so this year I’m getting a headstart on my anxiety and stress. Keep reading for my top 5 Holiday Hustle Anxiety Beaters and let me know if any of these come in handy when dealing with YOUR family this holiday season!
First up, BOUNDARIES!!! I see this allll the time in my mom groups and inner circle- new or first time moms stressing about how to tell Granma, Uncle, Dad that Baby makes the rules and the rest of us get in where we fit in. Ok, not literally but basically. It is VERY stressful to be the only, or one of the only, people in your family that doesn’t pop, force public displays of affection, gratitude, or fake positivity; trust me, I know. However, stress does not mean succumb! If you set a rule for your family then you stand on that rule and enforce it. Full stop! My favorite way to assert my boundaries is by repeating it simply then saying “Which one of us got the stitches?!” with a light laugh. That simple phrase lets my family- and myself & child- know that I’m not going to repeat myself and that the boundary has been set. Find you a “stitches” phrase and practice it before you get into the Holiday Hustle.
Next up, GIFTS! Do NOT let social media, extravagntly showy family, or even “ungrateful” (we’ll talk about this later) kids bully you into going into debt over Christsmas gifts! If you’re a last minute mommy like so many others: pace yourself! Your child does not need every “cute” thing that you see or they pick up. (Talking to myself here!) Since having Bean and seeing how outwardly loved and spoiled she is, I decided to take a Montessori approach to gift giving. First and foremost, see what your kid actually plays with and what piques their interest. Do they have 1-3 of these toys or items that are working, can be fixed, or are still age appropriate? If so, don’t buy another. Secondly, make a list. The list should consist of: Something to WEAR, Something to READ, Something they NEED, Something they WANT, and Something to DO. Now, you can choose the numbers of each item but I’ll start doing 5 Wears (Clothes, pjs, shoes), 4 Needs, 3 Wants (can be 1 big ticket item + 2 small), 2 Reads, and 1 Do (zoo trip). I also rotate her toys out almost monthly so she’ll be opening some birthday presents for Christmas while some Christmas presents go outside until next month. Rotating toys keeps them fresh, in good shape, and prolongs your child’s excitement for the toy.
Let’s talk PLAYING, yea? If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. Literally all I do is laugh- there is a reason for that! I get past my fears and anxiety by cracking a joke or finding a laughable deflector. I tell everybody to “laugh through the horror” cause it really does help. When your family is dog piling your parenting style, child’s behavior, weight, etc just laugh and say something snarky in response. They’ll either catch the hint and back off right then or they won’t but at least you’ll have gotten your quip in and can feel a bit better about yourself. When your child’s behavior is driving you straight up the tree, get eye level with them and just start playing. Grab a toy, ask for a hug then grab them up into a bear hug, wrestle, play PattyCake, whatever you have to do to PLAY! Laughter and childlike play give your brain and emotions a moment to calm down and regulate. Try it!
Ok now on to the Santa in the room- behavior. First, it’s important to remember that there are NO BAD KIDS just bad behavior and that misbehavior is miscommunication. Your child is not taking all the ornaments off the tree to spite you; they’re probably bored and exploring cause and effect. Give them something to throw and practice placing and removing. Dollar Tree has great felt trees for this and you can see them in action on my Instagram. If you’re taking pictures with Santa and your child hits him or starts crying, jump in and consider your child’s emotions. Are they possibly (likely) uncomfortable, anxious, or outright scared? Think of how you would feel if you were forced to flick it up with a stranger while your caregiver stood by and laughed. Are you at grandma’s house and baby or toddler or child won’t stop touching stuff? Are they maybe exploring all of the new things Grandma has set out for Christmas? Probably. Does that make it okay for them to touch, and possibly break, these things though? No. Ask Grandma for a safe place out of the child’s reach to put the most important decorations. For the things that can’t be moved, try to create a barrier around them or watch for what sensory pleasure the item is giving. Is the pinecone a cool new texture that can be recreated or satiated by going outside? Are the wrapped presents making a cool crinkly sound that can be recreated by crumbling foil or scrap wrapping paper? I bet it can.
Moral of the story: get in front of the behaviors you don’t want to see, your and your child’s comfort is more important than an elder’s hurt feelings, play and laugh through every obstacle, and enjoy the holidays. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems when you get through it. I’ll be checking on you!