Did you celebrate Christmas with small children? If so, you probably saw a lot of faces like this. I know we did!
This was our fourth Christmas as parents, and I think I am finally starting to understand how to do Christmas with small Children. It was a hard adjustment at first. especially for my type-A, plan-ahead, perfectionist personality. I had to learn how to be ok with my plans being interrupted, or changed all together. I had to learn to be ok with not doing every single family gathering. I had to learn to be ok with a little chaos. Naps get missed, bedtimes get thrown out the window, pandemonium ensues, but you know what? Everyone survives.
I am slowly but surely learning how to chill out a little bit, and it's making the Christmas craziness a lot more enjoyable. Here are the things that help me the most.
Lower expectations. We didn't get a family photo Christmas Eve, and that's ok. Johnny got his Christmas pajama bottoms dirty and the kids didn't match on Christmas morning, and that's ok. We were late to all our family gatherings, and that's ok. Trixie was a hot mess during Christmas Eve Mass, and that's ok. Johnny got the stomach flu two days before Christmas. Yes, I was a little terrified of him throwing up during Mass. And yes, I carried a barf bag in my purse all weekend. But everything ended up being ok. I was not expecting things to go perfectly, and so when they didn't, everything was ok!
Let go of the schedule. Our kids nap at 1:00, and they go to bed at 8:30. Not during Christmas. Naps were squeezed in here and there, bedtime was anywhere from one to four hours later than usual. The kids were a little crabby. Johnny wanted to be held a lot, and Trixie wanted to nurse non-stop, but they did ok! Getting some extra family time in a couple times a year is worth abandoning the schedule for. And our Christmas bonus this year was the kids ended up sleeping in until 9:00 a couple of mornings, which never happens, and which was greatly appreciated.
Don't try to do all the things. A few years ago I made a homemade gift for everyone in my family. I loved doing it, it was one of the best parts of my Advent and Christmas season. I really wanted to do it again this year. I started planning on September. I got supplies. I made a secret Pinterest board to plan out my projects. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around I could tell I wasn't going to get all my homemade gifts made. I sulked a little bit, then I prayed for the ability to let it go. And I ended up being a lot happier by not worrying about it. Being present for my family is more important than making presents for them.
I did get some stockings made for my sister and her husband. And I did get Johnny's train quilt finished in time. And that was enough.
It's ok to say no. This year we skipped Christmas Eve dinner with my family, and the annual Science Museum trip with Alex's family. We skipped two things, that's it, and it made such a difference. We had just enough time get a little rest, and get a little organized, and enjoy the rest of our gatherings all the more.
Remember what's important. It sounds like a no-brainer. But I do have to remind myself why we are even doing any of this. "And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." We made it to Mass. We celebrate the Word Incarnate. We know that God is with us, and that He comes to save us. When I keep this in mind everything becomes more meaningful, and it's a lot harder to get annoyed when parenting conditions are sub-par.
It is now the fifth day of Christmas and we are slowly getting new toys put away and boxes broken down. Laundry is being caught up on and I finally did some meal planning and grocery shopping again. The kids are returning to their normal sleep schedules and normal chores are being resumed. But the tree is still up, we're still celebrating, and I'm still trying to chill out and enjoy it all.