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The holidays can be a time of major stress for moms of little ones: over-committed, over-scheduled, just over it. Once you have kids, the holidays kind of shift and what was best for everyone else comes second to what’s best for your family unit. Instead of adopting everyone’s traditions and schedules, it’s time to start your own. Here’s how to start holiday traditions with toddlers:
Just Say No
Don’t say yes to everything; for instance, we prioritize and compromise to make sure we aren’t driving all over town for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I also skip Elf on the Shelf. Not doing it.
Skip it if it Doesn’t Bring you joy
Example: you’re a terrible baker and the thought of making cookies all day makes you cringe. So don’t! Just because your mom/sister/hair stylist loves to make 347 cookies from scratch doesn’t mean you have to. If it feels like a chore, skip it or outsource it.
Borrow from your own childhood
Think about your favorite Christmas traditions as a kid and try them with your own fam. This doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing both you and your spouse did as littles, but try out your favorites and see if they work for your kids.
Imagine your kid celebrating Christmas with their future family.
I try to do this beyond thinking about my kids as adults at holidays – I try to think about the kinds of adults I want my kids to be when making decisions for them everyday. But in this case, think about the holidays you want them having with their families someday.
When I found out that Gymboree has a holiday campaign celebrating the big (and small) moments of the season, I was so excited to get involved! The kids are wearing Gymboree from head to toe and even my husband said, “I love those outfits on them”, which is when I know I did a good job ;). If you hit Gymboree stores between 12/1/16 and 12/10/16, they’ll give you a scratcher at checkout to help you make your own holiday memory. They have fun prizes like a Mattel pack with Uno, Apples to Apples (one of my faves!), Pictionary + $50 for Gymmies (Gymboree’s cute pjs), or a basket of Mrs. Fields Cookies, or two lucky customers will win a Club Med all-inclusive family vacay. #yesplease! Every scratcher wins a One Big Happy Wonderland special surprise!
Here are our favorite family Christmas traditions:
Hit our local Farmer’s Market “Tree Lot”
Christmas trees, wreaths, Santas, candy canes, decor galore – our local Farmer’s Market has everything Christmas and the kids LOVE hanging out there. I snapped a few pics of them rocking their new Gymboree duds:
Cut down a Christmas tree on a Farm
I’m a 100% believer in real trees – they make your house smell amazing and I LOVE the tradition of going to a farm, riding a tractor into the woods, and finding the *perfect* tree. Then drinking a gallon of hot chocolate while fighting back frostbite.
Bake and decorate sugar cookies
This is one of the traditions I’ve held on to from my childhood. I always remember playing with flour, rolling out the dough, and my favorite metal cookie cutters as a kid. This is something we do with my mom and sister so the tradition kind of lives on.
Hang an Advent Calendar
The Advent calendar is a new thing for us this year, and I’ve skipped it in the past because I just thought the kids were too young to “get it”. But instead of including toys and treats, I’m stuffing it with easy activities we can do together.
Read The Night Before Christmas
On Christmas Eve, the story before bed is always The Night Before Christmas. So old school, but I remember the anticipation of Santa coming and snuggling into bed listening to this story. Now my kids will, too.
Adopt a Family
This year we’ve adopted a single mom and her 3-year-old son. I try to make an effort to find someone with kids so my kids can shop for another child. We’re still working on the whole gratitude/giving thing, but it’s really important to me that this is something they remember from their childhoods.
Get Pics with Santa
Sitting on Santa’s lap = the best childhood photo ops ever.I frame them every year and put them out as Christmas decor. I have a pic of each child screaming on Santa’s lap and it’s so fun to get them out every year and let the kids look back at themselves as “babies”.