Category: Holiday Fun

Defining Moments In Parenting Not Found on Social Media

Easter will be here in two more days. That’s when the slurry of pictures crop up on social media and the judging starts. Not that we are judging others because we are Whatever Moms, and Whatever Moms don’t judge other parents right? But how often are we judging ourselves? We wonder if our efforts stack up to be enough compared to everyone else’s. We start to compare how we show our love and measure it against how other parent’s show theirs. Maybe you’ll see pictures from a mom who handmade her kids baskets, or a mom who made all her kids candy from scratch, or maybe from a dad who assembled a bike for his kids. Now you are looking at your offerings with scrutiny and worry it’s not enough.

I’ve been there. Actually I’m there right now. I haven’t even started shopping for my kids baskets yet. I have a working idea of what I want to put in them. There simply wasn’t enough hours in the day this week to sneak away to buy everything. We were busy enjoying our break and having fun. We spent our days outside in the sun and taking each of our kids on special date days. Now I’m feeling the time crunch and I see all these pictures of great baskets popping up in my news feed. I’ve even posted a blog for “non-candy” ideas and yet, I have not picked up anything for my kids’ baskets. Does this mean I love my kids less? Nope.

The defining moments of being a parent do not come neatly packed with pretty bows and delivered on time. The material things we supply our kids with do not reflect how much we care. Being a loving parent happens when your kid dumps an entire glass of milk across the table and you don’t scream at them. You calmly help them sop it up with a towel and explain it’s OK accidents happen. Even if it is the third time in the same meal. There’s nothing pretty, or neat about that. Love for our kids shows up in the every day moments when we bandage up the scraped knees, or teach our kids hitting isn’t nice. None of those things are unwrapped once a year with eager anticipation. When our kids grow up they will look back at how much fun they had during the holiday, but that holiday fun won’t be what defines how much we love them. Our value as a parent can’t be counted out in exquisitely colored Easter eggs and giant baskets of gifts.

So, as we head into the Easter weekend know that everything you have to give is enough. All the time you spent pouring over the details of kid baskets and the meal you’ll prepare is enough. Being present with your children is enough. Set aside the worry and self doubt and just know you are enough.

Happy Easter All, and if you do not celebrate Easter Happy Weekend All!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Moms, You Won’t Ruin Your Kids If You Don’t Celebrate Every Holiday

I’m sure by now you have read a post or two written by moms asking, “Am I the only one that doesn’t need to go over the top for EVERY holiday?” I see it in nearly every one of my Facebook mom groups during the week of some calendar holiday. I get it because I was that mom too. Only now I realize I was saying it because I was feeling inadequate. I was second guessing what kind of mom I am because I didn’t take the time to invest in a craft with my kid, or spend time planning a surprise for the morning. Of course this completely minimizes all my hard work planning kid activities through the year, simply because I didn’t do it close to a holiday. We do a lot for our kids every single day and it doesn’t always come with glitter and balloons.

So with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter right around the corner, let me share what I’ve learned since making that same statement.

  1. People are who they are. Some moms are hard wired to express their joy openly and with big colorful decorations. To them this is fun. Maybe their mom did the same, or maybe their mom never did anything to celebrate and now celebrating with their kids feels special. Whatever their reason for celebrating, how they celebrate is part of their story and their business.
  2. Social media is meant to be social. Just like in real life, some people are way more social than others. Many folks use their social media accounts to keep their long distance family members included in their daily lives. It is no longer the norm for families to live on the same block any more. So sharing photos on Facebook is the modern equivalent to how our parents used to send pictures in the mail to grandma. Except now instead of just grandma getting to see it and gush over it all 347,000 friends on our list get to see it too.
  3. “No one is parenting at you.” That’s a direct quote from a mom friend. No parent is up through the night plotting to out do you as a parent. There is no trophy we are all vying for and certainly no one is going to recognize you or me as THE ONE, THE ONLY, THE PERFECT MOM!  If other moms are up sacrificing sleep to make magic happen for their kids inside their own homes let them have it. They aren’t looking for you to validate them (or criticize them).
  4. I know who I am. I am not going to be able to recreate someone else’s magical moments in my house. I am not crafty and I don’t have a ton of money. I like things simple and I like to have fun. I am also a last minute mama who can barely handle putting out a nice table cloth and throwing a few coins on the table. Keeping a week long, or even a month long running gag of leprechaun tricks, or elf shenanigans is too much work for me. But I am not judging any other mom who has that kind of stamina. I also know it doesn’t mean she loves her kids more than I love mine. I am willing walk to the ends of the earth for my kids. I’m just not willing to fire up the glue gun for them.
  5. I can enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. Since I already know the amount of work that goes into motherhood, I can totally appreciate any mom who can find the time to finish a craft, organize all her closets and design a command center. I can barely finish the dishes most days, so I consider all of those projects to be extracurricular. It’s really fun to see how creative my friends are without it being a competition. And since we are friends why would I want to spend my time showing them up, or complaining about their hard work. You go mamas! I’ll give your pic a like from the comfort of my couch. Oh and thanks for filling my news feed with your happy photos of smiling children.

Essentially, don’t go judging other moms for making a day bigger than you are willing to. Everyone is different and expresses their excitement in different ways. If you are a low key mama embrace it! Celebrate your minimal ways by not posting about it on Facebook. Or post your efforts on Facebook anyway without stacking them up against someone else’s. Our kids are watching how we do things and if they hear us tearing down the way others live in their homes we can expect that will be their views when they become parents too. If you are like me and just want the holidays to hurry up and be over with so you can pack everything away, your kids’ lives will not be ruined. I assure you there are a million other things you can do to land them in therapy.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites – Valentine’s Day Traditions

Valentine’s Day is only days away and I realized I haven’t posted anything about the holiday yet! To be honest, I have never really been a big fan of Valentines’ Day.  Don’t get me wrong I love eating all the pretty chocolates and I do enjoy getting some flowers from time to time. But to celebrate a day to love my friends and family seems silly when I love them every day! OK most days, but still more than one day of the year.

I’ll never forget the first Valentine’s Day my husband and I celebrated he did all the cliché things to try to win my heart. He cooked a fabulous dinner, bought me roses, and gave me a piece of jewelry and a box of chocolates. I gave him …. a pair of boxers with hearts on it. And a card. In my defense, we had dated only two months by this point and I thought it would be premature to go all out for one day. After that he got the message I am a practical girl and I like to share my love every day in the little things I do for my loved ones.

So we don’t really have any Valentine’s Day traditions. We do something new every year like visit a museum or an aquarium. I make their favorite dinner and bake them a cake because having dessert on a Tuesday screams special in our house. But the one tradition that I do keep every year is one that my mother started with me, I write my girls a love letter. They are too young to read them now, so I tuck them away in a special box for safe keeping. When they are old enough to read on their own I will share with them. These are the gifts that keep giving, these little treasures that we put away and only revisit when we need them.

This year we plan to relive our very first family Valentine’s Day by going out to dinner at the same restaurant and stopping for chocolate at the same little shop we did nearly six years ago. We don’t need big gifts to say I love you, and I have certainly outgrown the need for jewelry. I am happiest when we are all healthy and spending our time together laughing.

Click on the links below to see some other fun ways we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day together at home.

I HEART SCIENCE I shared this fun science experiment last year with my local readers at Hudson Valley Parent.

TRUE MARK OF FRIENDSHIP We made these cute paper craft book marks for our classmates that I found on krokotak.com

 

GALENTINE’S DAY – That time I took an aerial yoga class with my mom friends.

THE POWER OF CHEESE The year I threw together stuff for my kids preschool class.

 

What is your favorite part of Valentine’s Day? Feel free to leave a comment below, or join the discussion on Facebook!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Friday Favorites- All of You!

So nothing about today went as planned.

I was rushing around like crazy doing too many things at once and smashed my hand into the refrigerator door. I didn’t slam the door on my hand, instead I did something more cleverly impossible. I smashed my thumb and wrist so hard into the door handle that I thought I broke it. Thankfully, it is just a sprain. But I used my writing and publishing time at the emergent care place today. So, this is what you’re gonna get before I go pop another 10 Tylenol and ice down my hand:

The winner for the Vero Brava headband is Dagmar M!! I am going to email Dagmar today and wait until Tuesday 12/27 (it is Christmas after all) for response before moving to the next winner.

Also, I had another fun giveaway scheduled for today, but again nothing went as planned. So… next week?

Why are you all my favorites today? Well, because you allow me to be me. The wholly flawed personal that I am. I can send out my post a little late because these crazy imperfect things pop up in my day and no one judges me for it. I can also post a pic with my messy house in the back and no one is shocked by this. Thank you!! BTW, I so appreciate you taking time to read and respond each week. I enjoy having this connection with all of you! I hope every one of you enjoys the warmth of the holiday season and celebrates with much love and kindness! May the new year be good to all of us!

Warmest wishes,

Roxanne

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Taking Over Christmas Like A Dad

A few weekends ago I wrote a post on Facebook that went like this:

 

It just seems like my husband has things a little easier. The weekends are less hectic which equals less demands for racing through breakfast and less drama. He often gets to sleep in because he is up early during the week (I am too, but I apparently exist in the shadows). I envy both of those things- less drama and more sleeping.

On weekend mornings my husband doesn’t get up with a to-do list on his mind and go right to work. Seconds after his feet hit the floor he b-lines it to the shower. No one stops him to ask a million questions, nor does he stop to ask anyone else questions. He needs a shower, he takes a shower. I can not figure out how to make this work for myself. As soon as my feet hit the floor I’ve been had, “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!! What’s for breakfast?!”

“Nothing I’m taking a shower!”

“Awe but I’m hungry!”

“Eat your sister!”

We had a bad snow storm on Saturday which left me trapped inside by snow, two kids and a stomach bug while my husband went to work. I laid in bed fuming that when hubby is sick he gets to stay in bed and make zero breakfasts. No one talks to him, looks at him or even goes near the door to his room. When I get sick, “mom can I have a snack?” “mom will you open this?” “mom can I have water” “mom are you breathing?” I decided not this day. I am too sick and exhausted to even move right now. I have been vomiting for several hours and I am in NO MOOD for demands. The kids will learn to survive this day or starve. (Thankfully they survived and there’s a future post on that).

The weekend flies by and I wake up Monday morning with a lengthy to-do list and a minor headache left from too much “sleeping in” over the weekend. I count five different stores to shop through. “I’ll never make them all in time!”

But then, something miraculous happens when I stepped into Target. I decide, today is the day I just wanna be a dad. Now if your husband, is anything like mine, he may have a broken give-a-shit-meter. My husband hasn’t given one shit about the gifting process in the last decade + we’ve been together. Today, I didn’t either. I grab a cart, crumple my list and toss it to the floor before I take the aisles by storm with a determined pace. I walk through the men’s department and grab stuff off of wracks and toss into my cart, “yep! this will do!” I swing by the wrapping department to pick up some fun Holiday Crackers to give to the kids at Christmas Eve dinner. When I flip over the box I see these things open with TNT (as in dynamite) and the grand prize is a nail clipper. “Who gives a shit? Not me! I’m dad today!! Ahahahaha!” I throw them in the cart. I throw more things in the cart that I could get at other stores for less, but why the hell make an extra trip just to save a few dollars? I can’t believe how easy this is! It is so freeing to just not care! No worries! No regrets! How have I been living my life all these  years?!

Next stop Kohl’s! Hubby hoarded a small bank roll in Kohl’s cash that I was able to guilt him into convince him to let me have. I really need a few shirts for myself and thought I should pick up an extra pair of pajamas for him to feel cozy in during his weekend sleep retreats. Normally I am so indecisive about clothes. It can get really stressful picking out the most flattering colors and fabrics. I have to be concerned with what’s in fashion, what season it is. But not today! Today I am the dad! I care nothing of colors and seasons and I grab a fist full of the same damned shirts! And yep, I still don’t give a shit!

Now I am about to slam dunk this shopping trip in just two stores! I’ve come to the section of the program where I need to select hubby’s new fashionable sleepwear. What is his favorite color? Does he like flannel, or cotton better? To hell with personal preferences you are getting those tacky Christmas pants on a hanger from over there and the Merry Christmas Darth Vader t-shirt wadded up on top of a pile from over here. I don’t care if they aren’t coordinated, or even match. Who needs fancy buttons and comfortable fabrics?

I am done!!

In record time!!

The. Crowd. Goes. Wild!

The cashier high fives me and says, “no charge today m’am! What you’ve accomplished here today is payment enough!!” Then she sheds a tear while bagging my free items.

Ah. It really does feel good to be the dad now and then. To not live so trapped inside my head with details. Not having to waste time obsessing over things like a healthy breakfast and worrying if your gifts are perfect. Those things just power the meter and wear you out. Nah, this thinking things through and making things magical is just dumb. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to grab a shower and take care of a few stray chin hairs.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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There’s No Crying in Christmas

It is no secret I struggle with perfection all the time.  Perfection sneaks up on me when I least expect it. Like when my family wants to decorate the Christmas tree. Anyone else out there ever have a melt down over a Christmas tree? It seems we all have our own idea on what the tree should look like, but we all want the same thing- to enjoy sitting in front of the twinkling lights. This year I am giving myself a pat on the back and celebrating the first time in a long time I did NOT absolutely lose it over a tree.

CHRISTMAS PAST

I typically drag the giant fake tree up the stairs from the basement by myself, set it up in the corner and spend an hour defending it from my kids while I hastily spiral the lights around the tree. I tend to skip the garland because I am so annoyed and go right into freaking out about the cluster of 20 ornaments my kids place on the same branch. Then I have to wait for hubby to come home and put the star on top because, even with a ladder, I am too short. Then we take turns arguing fussing over the placement of ornaments.

It isn’t hard to understand why hubby and I end up battling over the way the tree goes up. As a perfectionist I have a vision and I want to recreate it in exact detail and with precision. My husband, being methodical and highly logical will have a completely separate (convoluted) idea of how the tree should look.

CHRISTMAS PRESENT

This year I witnessed a small miracle when hubby put the tree up without being asked ten times. The kids kept a reasonable distance from the tree so there was no one to step on (or cry about being stepped on). And I didn’t offer “suggestions” about fluffing the artificial branches to look real, nor did I follow behind him reworking every strand of lights he put up. [Insert choir of angels] Everything felt pretty sensational until my husband mentioned stringing the beaded garlands on the tree. I froze. “That’s OK we don’t need them this year,” I offered nervously.

You have to understand that I brought these beaded garlands into our marriage from my childhood home. My family and I hung them a specific way, the same way, year after year. Now he is about to ruin my tradition of perfectly balanced symmetry by hanging them haphazardly in non-conforming variations.

“I know let’s alternate the silver AND the gold strands!” he replied with enthusiasm. I felt my right eye twitching as I visualized both silver AND gold decorations on the tree. This goes completely against tradition and good taste.

I might have had a small aneurysm.

He must have sensed my spiraling panic when he suggested, “why don’t you sit down and relax”  and handed me a rum and eggnog. That helped.

I sat down and watched (painfully) as he and the children worked to get the decorations on the tree. It took a lot of work inside my soul to not straighten out every crooked line of garland, or to recalibrate every mismeasured strand. I had to dig really deep to keep my cool when he got to the very top of the tree and had 4 ft. of left over garland. Note: This is why you start at the top of the tree so you can ditch the extra strands on a bottom branch in the back of the tree! But I didn’t say that. I put my head between my knees and took more deep breaths because I couldn’t watch him wrap the excess around the tippy top of the tree at the base of our star. When he was through I sat upright to catch my barrings and I waited for the branches to give way under the weight. Thankfully, I was wrong. It even looked OK.

It was time to hang the ornaments. Per our history together, this is where the magic dies. I hate all the ugly handmade ornaments my husband has had since Kindergarten that he insists on hanging up every year. He is a grown man hanging mangled glitter on my tree. As much as I try to hide them every year he finds them. Now I have actual Kindergartners hanging their mangled glitter on my tree and they can tell if one is missing! So there is no hiding of ornaments, or throwing them away. I am completely out numbered. But I tell myself to let it go. (I’d say this rum is really working).

This year, I turned a blind eye to the mishmosh and let the ornaments fall where they may. Yoga breaths helped ease the escalating hysteria in my mind as the children began hanging several decorations on the same branch. [Inhale] “In with the joy!” [Exhale] “Out with the control!” Just as I was patting myself on the back for not taking over the decorating, my daughter said, “this feels like good times.”

CHRISTMAS FUTURE

As we took a step back to admire the tree I realized that by letting go of my idea of perfect decorations, our tree turned out pretty perfect after all. There was no yelling, no crying and no trauma for my children to share with future therapists.  The tree has an eclectic vibe, but everyone has their favorite ornament on the tree where they can see it. I actually love our tree this year because watching my family experience this tradition with joy makes me happy. Who knew all it takes is me giving up my need to control things (and a little rum) to make lasting family memories.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Celebrate the Holidays Free of These Gift-Giving Problems

 

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Naturally, the holidays are high-stress and jam-packed with events and gatherings. As they approach, I think of the movie “Four Christmases” and how they juggled four events in one single day. With so many events, the couple agrees to using “mistletoe” as a signal that it is time to leave. At one point, Vince Vaughn’s character, Brad, silently cries in anguish, “Mistletoe!  Mistletoe!” as his overactive adult brothers wrestle him to the ground in a headlock.

Sometimes, thinking of the holidays puts us in a headlock with these biggest holiday gift-giving boundary issues.

Problem: Family Doesn’t Respect Your Rules

It takes a village to raise children, and when some of your village is undermining you with inappropriate gifts (like a mature video game or clothes that are too revealing) it can be frustrating. Most likely, they are not purposefully disrespecting you, however it still requires some parental maneuvering.

Solution: Communicate With Your Kids

Throughout the year, have discussions about gracious way to accept unwanted gifts or gifts that are not allowed. The best way to do this is to explain to your children your reasoning. You can say, “I know that Uncle Paul plays some intense games that we don’t allow you to have.  We really feel that those games aren’t good for you.  If Uncle Paul gives you a game at Christmas that’s rated as Mature, you need to know that we will have to exchange it for a more appropriate game.”

It’s also important your child knows how to accept these gifts without making a scene, lying, or making the gift-giver feel bad.  You can coach your child to say something like, “Wow!  I don’t have this one yet!” or “Thank you for taking the time to think of me.”

Problem: Value Inequality

It happens all the time at gatherings and it is easily one  of the quickest ways to alienate adults. Someone buys very extravagant gifts, making other family members feel inferior. What if Aunt Laura brings in a new American Girl doll with all of the accessories, but Aunt Britney can only afford a few Shopkins?  

I spoke to a dear friend who explained it like this:  “I know that giving nice gifts sometimes bothers others in my family, but I don’t actually do it to show off.  I do it because I remember how it felt as a kid to see my parents fail to plan for the holidays.  I was so embarrassed to exchange a last-minute bag of holiday cookies from Kroger with someone who had obviously put a lot of thought and care into a gift for me.”  

Solution: Be Empathetic

Consider that Aunt Laura may have reasons for her extravagance other than showing off:  desire to please, fear of rejection, insecurity, or even a heartfelt desire to show her thanks and love with the nicest gift she can afford.  Changing your mindset and understanding other reasoning helps you accept this other person’s gifts without tying in your own feelings of worth.

If you notice an offended gifter, talk with them privately and say something like, “I know Laura always seems to bring these huge gifts, but I want you to know that it says nothing about how much you love us or we love you.  Gifts are just a token, but the real treasure is having you in our lives.”

Problem: Present Inequality

There’s always the perfect gift giver – the one person who always has the right gift picked out for your child, leaving your child unimpressed by their other gifts.  If Granny gives your child a new Paw Patrol set, but Nana brings a bag of organic wooden blocks, there’s bound to be a wildly different response from your kids.  

Solution: Gratitude Coaching

Preparing your children ahead of time is key.  Explain to your children that they will most likely get some amazing gifts and some mediocre gifts. Talk about this scenario in reverse, emphasizing gratitude for the intent instead of the actual gift:  “What if you spent hours making Nana a beautiful painting and she merely responded, ‘Thanks’ but then she gushed over a new car that I bought her?  You’d feel pretty sad, right?”  This encourages your child to graciously accept every gift he or she receives.

Be sure to discuss duplicate gifts, as well. Often kids will receive the same gift and blurt out, “I already have this!” Encouraging gratitude for the intent will save your children from offending other family members.

The holidays are stressful enough without adding in the dilemmas that gift giving and receiving can cause. Communication will be your saving grace.

Celeste CoffmanCeleste Coffman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of the Quiet Mind Collective. Read her blog for more tips on managing stress and anxiety, or become a registered member to access videos, resources, and more detailed articles. Sign up for her next course Parenting Anxious Kids.

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Moms, This Christmas Season Take a Day Off

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You may have noticed I missed my usual Friday Favorites post. I’ll save that post for later. Right now I want to tell you about my weekend.

I didn’t get to post anything on Friday because I was so rushed trying to make too many things happen. I wanted to surprise my kids with some special elves, I was finishing up a power point presentation and delivering collection boxes for Christmas cards for my card charity. Plus, I had the usual list of household demands to finish up. I was completely overwhelmed by baking cookies for my kids birthday (twins in two different classrooms = double the birthday treats), piecing together costumes for dress up day, meal planning, blog planning and figuring out who needed clean socks. Life.

I decided to take a day off. I needed to breathe.

My husband can’t read my mind and recognize when I’m on overload and my thoughts are spinning over and and over, obsessing about how to make it all work. I have to say out loud, “I need a day off.” I declared Sunday as my day. No cooking, cleaning, planning or prepping. I enjoyed doing things I like. I am a Christmas fool. I love, love, love everything about this season. But, having to plan things with the kids who just (by nature) complain, or melt down, or cry because our activity didn’t meet their expectations really makes my holiday feel a less joyful.

Instead of shoving everyone into winter coats and mittens and loading into the car to go caroling at a local nursing home, I went by myself. I love to sing carols and be among the sea of voices bringing cheer to life. Last year it was a debacle with kids crying because it was too loud, it was too crowded. They were fighting over the instruments and every half hour one or both of them needed to use the bathroom. This year was fabulous. I got to hold cute babies who were excited to see me. I finished entire songs and most importantly I got to feel recharged by joy. It was wonderful!

After caroling I stopped by Starbucks to grab a peppermint hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie. Oh. My. Word. Do these things just taste so much better without a kid climbing on me, or screaming in my ear?!! YES! I love sharing cookies and cocoa with my kids, but it is hard to enjoy all of it when it is a chore to get through.

My day ended with an aerial yoga class and dinner with my dear friend (and now famous) Erica. Spending time doing something fun with a friend and talking about life, not just mom life, was exactly what I needed. Taking time to relax in a hectically paced season helps me appreciate the small moments that happen in a day. The sweetness of a cookie, the warmth of cocoa and the light of friendship. Not to mention all the laughter while trying to get myself into a hanging yoga position. All joy filled things to help me slow down and cherish life one moment at a time.

So if you are stressing out about how to get everything done right now, press the pause button. Take time to recharge. Take the day off and spend it the way you want to, or ask a friend to watch the kids while you grab a coffee and walk through the most expensive stores with the most fragile, beautiful things. I promise everything will be waiting for you when you get back! The earth will still be spinning if you don’t finish your to-do list. If you are a new mom, take time. If you are a seasoned mom, take time. You are worth it!

How do you find joy for yourself during the holiday (rush) season?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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3 Simple Christmas Traditions for Young Families

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year for most folks. But add to that sleepless nights, colds, teething, temper tantrums and just trying to keep your kid from knocking over the Christmas tree you worked so hard to put up, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a holiday that isn’t any fun.  Well, since I started reading The Whatever Mom (Roxanne is my mama spirit animal), I’ve come to the conclusion that often less is more. My main goal with motherhood is to keep my sanity and have kids who are happy and healthy.  Here are 3 things we do at our house to simplify Christmas with our 17 month old, while still making it memorable and fun for our family, and something we can look back on fondly.

Holiday Traditions

For our family, the easiest way to guarantee fun each year and make the holiday special is to start a family tradition (or two). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  We use a fun little Christmas plate for meals starting the day after Thanksgiving and we break out the advent calendar.  Not a lot of work to grab these two out of our attic and they’re so cute in pictures each day.  Here’s one of our banana and pancake breakfast this morning!  

lukes-breakfast

You can find similar plates just about anywhere.  I believe we got this one from the dollar section at Target, but if you shop online you can have it shipped directly to you and you don’t even have to leave your house. (See shopping links below).

We also like to use an advent calendar to count down until Christmas.  It makes for a fun little daily tradition and cute pictures too! Here’s one from Pottery Barn, which holds up great, but if that’s not in your budget this year, you can make a paper chain or coloring chart, or look for one that’s half off at the end of the season!

advent-calendar-pottery-barn-kids

No Fuss Decorations

When you have young kids, they want to touch and hold and play with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. So put away the $100 crystal ornament you inherited from your great grandmother; and the sentimental (breakable) ornaments you got the first year you were married. Instead, fill in those spaces with some fun ornaments your kids help you make.  It will give them hours (or at least several minutes) of fun and they will have keepsakes they can take with them some day.  Most craft stores have little wooden ones for a dollar or two that can be colored-in with markers.  If you’re really brave, you can even get out the paint!

wood-ornaments

Plan Ahead

Making a plan may sound like work, but it can actually give you peace and sanity this time of year.  Talk with your husband (or co-parent) and your kids (if they’re old enough) about what activities are most important to them.  Then, make a list of 3-4 activities that you know are doable, and make a plan to do just those activities.  You might be surprised what means the most to you and your family.   

Our list typically looks something like this:

  1. Set up Christmas Decoration
  2. Take Family Photos for Christmas Cards
  3. Visit the trains at the mall (They have an Amazing electric train display at our mall, that our little guy LOVE to go see).
  4. Make cookies
  5. Go look at Christmas lights

The great thing about planning ahead, is now we don’t have to think about what we want to do and no one is left feeling like they didn’t get to do what they wanted.  As an added bonus, if things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s OK!  Didn’t get a chance to make cookies? That’s OK! We’ll buy some festive ones from the store or local bakery.  Our little guy got sick last year during the week of Christmas and we opted not to take him out to look at Christmas lights, but we’re hoping to this year!

Spending time with each other is the most important thing this time of year so make sure to carve out a little time to relax, drink some cocoa, enjoy some wrestle snuggle time and watch a Christmas movie or two.  You’ll be glad you didn’t overwhelm yourself with a huge to-do list this year!

peter-and-rosieRosie Bynum is a boy mom and owner of The Dinosaur Clothing Boutique. Her son Luke and husband Peter help her run the family business. Check out all the adorable creations on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


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4 Low Budget Almost Handmade Holiday Gifts

Quasi Handmade Gifts

I have vivid memories of the closet in the extra bedroom of the house I grew up in. The best stuff was shoved way to the back corner on the floor, occupying the oldest stratigraphic layers of closet geologic time: my mom’s forgotten Christmas craft supplies. Two file boxes full of that weird crunchy florist ribbon, decaying foam wreath forms, stapled baggies filled with sequins… like manna from heaven.

Fast-forward to my own life as a mom: I’ve never given up on the dream of a handmade Christmas, though my standards have relaxed in the wake of having two children in 18 months. My life is nuts, the holidays sometimes give me an anxiety rash, and I’m not particularly good at juggling very many things at once. As such, I bring you:

Ideas for A (Quasi) Handmade Holiday

Fabric Napkins

I’m usually a booze-as-a-gift sort of person – but grad school yielded more friendships than I could afford to buy Frangelico gift sets for. So I sleuthed out everyone’s general decor palettes and got to work hemming quilting cotton into 12” x 18” rectangles. The shape required less fabric than a traditional 18” square napkin (cheap), and using highly patterned quilting cotton meant you could stain it up pretty badly before it looked too gnarly (easy care). And they don’t require ironing – just fold them up however you like directly out of the dryer and they look great. You don’t even need to hem them if that’s too much of a pain, just zig-zag stitch around the edges and allow them to fray as they wear. I still see those cloth napkins on occasion when I visit my friends. At least the smart ones who put them out when I come over.

Whipped Shea Butter

I went through a phase making handcrafted all-natural lotions and ablutions… before husband. Before children. Back when my thoughts and bathroom time were my own. The biggest hit with everyone was also the easiest to make: whipped shea butter. Throw a bunch of shea butter (I buy mine on Amazon), and whatever smelly stuff you like (maybe essential oils from your Young Living friend who won’t shut up about the soles of her family’s feet) into a stand mixer and beat it into oblivion. Seriously, cue up something captivating on YouTube, because you’re going to be there a while. Whip until fluffy like frosting and pipe into clean jars (go with small mason jars if you want to destroy your girlfriends’ dreams for the title of DIY Goddess). Slap on a label from some super cute shop on Etsy if you’re an overachiever, or with a Sharpie and a prayer if you’re me. Lob them at your friends on Christmas Eve and say, “You’re welcome.”

Flavored Spirits

As I mentioned earlier, I am a booze-gifter. Mostly because it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser in the circles I frequent (read: my family). But gift-grade alcohol can be pricey and it’s completely weird to buy it in bulk and present it in unmarked containers. Unless it’s a Handmade Gift™. Enter flavored spirits. Fill well-scrubbed decorative bottles a quarter to halfway with fruits, herbs, whole spices, even tea leaves or coffee beans. (Shop thrift stores or off-price retailers for bottles and sanitize with a powdered oxygen brewer’s wash like PBW). Buy decent but inexpensive liquor in the giant bottles (you don’t care what those other shoppers think) and decant into your prepared bottles. Try flavor combos like Earl Grey and gin, vanilla bean and bourbon, or peppercorn/dill/celery seed and vodka for Bloody Marys. Sharpie the contents onto the bottle with a shaky hand, then eyeball the recipient until they cave and share with you. Happy Hanukkah!  

Homemade Granola

I know. I don’t entirely understand why, but people LOVE this stuff. That’s a lie. I do understand. It tastes way better than store-bought. You can customize it however you want. It looks great in a cellophane bag tied with jute, or burlap, or gingham, or whatever rustic expression you feel really drives home that you slaved in a kitchen to express your love for the recipient (or slay your Pinterest posse and use swing top bale jars. Mic drop.). And it’s a breeze to make. Hit up Uncle Google for specific recipes, but granola is basically a bunch of shelf-stable fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains mixed to whatever proportions you like, bound together loosely with sweeteners and oils, flavored with herbs and spices for unexpected panache, and baked to a satisfying crunch that can withstand milk or stand alone.

And there you have it: ideas for a handmade holiday. I will be presenting store-bought pie for Christmas dinner, and there will be no cranberry-and-popcorn garland on my tree, nor evergreen bough wreath on my door – because who has time between hauling the 4-year-old from the top shelf of the linen closet for the hundredth time and yelling at the dog to stop eating her own poop? But one or two lazy little projects will scratch that DIY itch. Even better, amid the chaos that can sometimes overwhelm us at the holidays, I’ll be able to flex my creative muscles a bit and my kids will witness me making things with my hands that are beautiful or delicious (or inebriating), that make others happy. And that is pretty fabulous.

marenMaren is a dedicated coffee-drinker, sewist, survivor of the 2-Boys-Under-Two Club, and master Lego builder. She loves Netflix bingeing, beer, and talking about eating bacon all the time but not actually doing it. Because heart attacks. She writes in the key of sailor whenever the spirit strikes over at artslostandfound.com

 

 

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