I got way ahead of myself this year.
First, it's the busy season for my blog. Everyone wants to get in their holiday advertising, and I can't say no to a chance to work with my favorite brands + earn extra holiday income. Then things got busy with the end of Sam's semester (read: I never see him). Then we have parties with friends and playdates with toddlers and trying to remember everyone I should buy a Christmas gift for. Then there's traveling for the holidays, which is stressful at any time of year when you have three kids in tow. Then, before I knew it, I had volunteered to host a baby shower and hike with my friend and make a display for church. I was suddenly ultra stressed and the laundry was still not done and the twins still wake up at night and I was convinced everything would be better if I just got ONE NIGHT of solid sleep.
All this caught up to me last week and I ended up sobbing on the phone to my husband because it seemed like I just couldn't. do. it all. Luckily some of my fabulous friends came to the rescue and watched Fixer Upper with me over a huge bowl of popcorn.
So now (belatedly) I'm trying to take a step back and just breathe. The holidays are supposed to be fun, not stressful. And I know I'm beyond lucky to have all these very good things in my life. I just need to simplify.
Here are four ways I'm cutting down, cutting back, and focusing on what's important this holiday season:
1. SIMPLIFYING FAMILY TIME
At this stage in our lives, our kids feel just as loved if we spend hundreds of dollars taking them to Disneyland or if we spend an afternoon at the park down the street. They don't need grand gestures, complex crafts, or fancy breakfasts with Santa to get into the holiday mood. Honestly, all Claire wants is someone to ride her bike with, and the twins are happy if they're holding something they can drool on. We're taking advantage of these easy-to-please years while we still can.
This holiday season, it means our biggest craft is decorating wrapping paper (tutorials coming next week) and our entertainment is mostly in the form of holiday picture books checked out from the library.
2. SIMPLIFYING MEALS
We are all about simplifying what we eat these days (remember these salted caramel cookies and my mini-series about easy weeknight dinners?). We tried these MorningStar Farms Veggie Bowls for dinner the other night, and I have to say it was so nice to have a complete healthier dinner done in a few minutes. I like that they're a convenient "as-is" meal solution - and I'm pretty sure I ate every bite of those Japanese Soba noodles.
Chik'n Tikka Masala tasted, but as it turns out I have a very sneaky toddler who is a champion naan gobbler. It's a good thing she's so cute. ;)
3. SIMPLIFYING GIFTS
When it comes to presents for each other and for the kids, we're following the rhyme that says:
Something you want,
Something you need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.
Maybe this won't work every year, but it's been really great for us this year. It makes presents for our kids (and for each other) much easier and simpler. For the first time ever, we'll have all our Christmas shopping done by the end of Thanksgiving break (we're just waiting for Black Friday sales for the last few things on our list). It also helps that we're traveling for Christmas, so we don't have a lot of room for presents anyway.
4. SIMPLIFYING COMMITMENTS
Over the weekend, my friend and I planned a fun evening at the park with our local friends who weren't traveling for Thanksgiving. Everyone was supposed to bring a pie or other Thanksgiving side to share. I had all these plans to make a yummy chocolate pie. Well, the weekend kept going and going and time was ticking down. Finally, it was the night before, and I knew I could have a much-needed in-home date night with my husband or else I could make a pie. I chose to spend time with my husband and brought a new container of vanilla ice cream to the party instead. Guess what? Nobody cared that I didn't make a homemade pie! Nobody even noticed!
It's only been a few days since I became determined to simplify, and it's already made such a big difference. I'm happier, and actually excited for upcoming events. And now I'm off to pull Christmas decor from our storage closet, because as it turns out I don't think I can wait any longer. :)
How are you simplifying this holiday season?