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on keeping calm

It's December! And somehow that makes my heart beat a little bit faster. The list in my head is growing longer and longer each day (get the Christmas tree, put up the decorations, design the Christmas cards, finish the shopping, frost the christmas cookies, mail the presents, etc. etc. etc.)

I love Christmas. I always have. But Christmas as a mother of three is leaving me a little breathless. There is a fine line between making Christmas a special time filled with fun activities and family events, and making Christmas a harried season that's too busy and filled with stress.

So my mantra this Christmas season is to keep things calm. I am trying to be more intentional about how we celebrate this year. Choosing carefully the things we will take on as a family, skipping things I feel will add stress to the holidays and focusing on the simple things that we can do together.

My list is looking like this now: Hang the advent calendar. Trim the tree. Find some small acts of service for those in need. Read the Christmas story as a family. Mail our packages early. Enjoy our week of being still.

I will still want to make Christmas cookies with the kids, and hand sew a doll for Bee, and sew pajamas for the kids (all those years at Martha Stewart are still with me). But I will choose carefully the projects I take on, and if I feel the stress rising, I will put things aside. I don't want my children to look back at holidays and remember a mother who was stressed and crazed and taking on way too much.

If anything, I want the days surrounding Christmas to have a special feeling. Calm. Peaceful. Loving. And that is how I would like my children to remember their mother at Christmas too. (Why is this harder than it sounds?)

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Reader Comments (22)

I just posted about this same thing today. Great minds must think alike.

PS: LOVE your advent calendar. I have a hand made felt one too but not nearly as classy as yours. Nice job!

12.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I think I realized the same thing this year..... Christmas is a lot of work! My strategy this year was to plan ahead in order to avoid the stress. I am pregnant with baby number three (who is due in Jan.) so I started everything early. My cards are out, tree is up, and shopping is almost done. Now I can enjoy the next few weeks with my kids baking and crafting and getting ready for the new baby!

12.4.2010 | Unregistered Commenternina

I love the way your mantel is arranged! I saw those zinc letters on anthropologie's website..now i'm thinking i might need to buy some for myself for christmas. :)

12.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

I just made a list of all the things I want to accomplish - sewing projects, baking, decorating, etc. - and realized that I'd never get it all done. Or if I could it would cost a fortune. By looking at that list and consolidating a few things, I'm breathing a lot easier. I've decided to make one type of gift for everyone (an ornament that can be easily personalized) and bake only 3 types of simple cookies (rather than 5+ like recent years). This is also the first year of Christmas babyproofing we had to do, so that cuts down on decorating all crazy-like.

Have a great holiday!

12.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

it's the three children part that is so hard, I think. Ever since my own Bee was born in 2007 I've had to work really hard at keeping calm with three children at Christmastime!

12.4.2010 | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth

This is how I feel. It's a struggle to keep the holidays sane. And I'm hoping to keep them non materialistic, too. Boy is that a struggle. The kids letters to Santa are already so long.

12.4.2010 | Unregistered Commenterrowena

hi there.
i'm always happy to hear a mother say this. mostly i'm hering mamas doing and doing and feeling frazzled. it's the time we spent with our kids that they will remember.
love your week of being still!

12.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

We had our third this year too, she is 4 months old. And things definitely feel much more crazy and I'm not able to do as much. I'm still getting to the point of being okay with doing less. Great post.

12.5.2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

That's a lovely thought - a calm Christmas! My favorite season as well, and I find myself running around like a nut and I don't even have any kids - I don't know how people manage to stay organized and calm :) I hope you have a lovely, relaxing, peaceful Christmas with your family!

Thank you. I feel the same way. I am really trying this year to enjoy this month and make sure my children see and feel the magic rather than my anxiety. Thank you for saying it out loud.

12.5.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusanne

Thank you for this post. When I look at your blog and your projects I imagine you are someone who can do it all, all the time... It's nice to know that you put your priorities in order and remember what is important. As someone whose birthday is right before Christmas, I have too many memories of birthday dinner drive-through (and siblings with summer birthdays who got to go to fancy restaurants) and waiting for my stressed-out mama to relax enough to enjoy the holidays. There are plenty of good memories too, and I'm trying hard to get it right with my kids.

12.6.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I have always loved christmas as well and since the addition of our third it has been nothing but stressful over the holidays. thanks for the little reminder to keep it what it's supposed to be: enjoyable, peaceful, and full of family. i'm going to make an extra effor this year myself!

12.6.2010 | Unregistered Commenterkristen

I've given you a blogger award, Brooke. Come by my blog to 'pick it up'!

She's Thrifty

12.6.2010 | Unregistered CommenterShe's Thrifty

Thanks for the reminder Brooke, it has been really chaotic here, I'm now determined to be still next week and rememeber what Xmas is all about.

12.6.2010 | Unregistered CommenterEngracia

oh my. we have been trying to find that same space between the specialness and the madness. we've avoided a LOT of the madness by making most of our gifts this year, thus less traffic and dealing with lines, etc. and the kids have been ill for almost two weeks now which has meant lots of snuggly time by the fire sipping tea and reading books and so somehow it's all working out better than before, just generally lowering the expectations, doing less. enjoying more. happy december! :::

12.7.2010 | Unregistered Commentertifanie

Perfectly said! Focus on what's important to you and your family and don't let the stress get to you. There's a lot going on this time of year, but it's all happy and magical stuff! Your approach is perfect - if you feel like you're getting stressed, then let go of something. This time of year is to celebrate the peaceful joy of the season. Good for you!

12.7.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Thank you for this post! I couldn't agree more, and just want to add that it is also important to keep in mind that this is a specific 'season' in your life when things are especially hectic. Next year you won't have a baby, you will have a toddler and I bet it will be a little bit easier to breath and you can add more to your to do list. When my kids were babies I always felt a bit frustrated that I couldn't keep up with everything I had been able to get done in the previous years, but now that they have grown up a little I have been adding a bit more back each year (and loving it!). ...now I just need to bust out the Wee Wonderfuls book and get started on that doll for my 4.5 year old! Best wishes and happy holidays.

12.8.2010 | Unregistered Commenternicole

I totallly understand what you mean. Christmas time is so busy and sometimes the business takes over and the true meaning and joy of christmas is lost checking on things on a list! I applaud you and hope to follow in your example!

Merry Christmas
Elisabeth Adele

12.10.2010 | Unregistered CommenterElisabeth Adele

Great advice! Happy holidays!

12.12.2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I feel you completely!!!! I find myself constantly reminding myself of just this everyday. Somehow, with my crazy pregancy hormones all up and down and all over, it's just not sticking! xox.

12.16.2010 | Unregistered Commentersharilyn

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