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The starting line begins with Halloween and the finish line ends with New Year’s Day. The “Holiday Race” has officially begun.
This time of the year can be just as exciting as it is stressful for many parents. While many moms may love putting together creative costumes and buying every decoration they see, anxiety may also be very present. Between the planning and purchasing that goes into the holidays, parents may find this time of the year quite stressful when it should be enjoyed with loved ones.
So, how do you make it to the finish line?
Budget, Budget, Budget
Budgeting is hard. The concept is usually easy to understand, but finding a method that works well for you can be tricky – especially when you are not a numbers person.
Since I have cried through almost every math class I ever attended, the mere idea of budgeting and financial organization puts me on edge. I immediately look at the process with a negative mindset because whenever I spend money or try to organize finances, I freeze. This is something that hasn’t gotten much easier over the years and now that my boyfriend and I have a family to support, it has become even more important to find a method that works well for all us.
Renee Saraceni, mom of two, has used Dave Ramsey’s budgeting system for almost a year and believes it to be the best choice she ever stuck with. She has an “envelope for holidays and gifts and a set amount of money gets put into it from every paycheck.” The system makes it so after bills are paid, the remainder of a paycheck is separated into smaller envelopes. These smaller envelopes are known as “sinking funds” because they are necessary purchases, but you never know exactly when they will be used. Some of these “sinking funds” are envelopes titled as grocery shopping, car repairs, and most importantly at this time of the year, gifts and food for the holidays.
Organization can feel almost impossible when your family starts growing. Between putting up and taking down safety gates, checking outlet covers, the never-ending laundry piles, and an overabundance of bibs, bottles, plates, bowls and cups – organization may seem impossible.
No matter how often I try to organize each room and keep the house (and my mind) filed appropriately, it seems as if nothing stays neatly filed for long. The best organizational tool I have found is one of the oldest around: the old-fashioned to-do list. I always have a to-do list going as well as two physical calendars and the calendar in my phone where I put my appointments, dates of travel, classes I teach, and other little gatherings I know may get lost in the chaos.
Since holidays are times of decoration, figuring out how to organize the different décor can be stressful in itself – especially when you have little ones around to grab it. Alyssa Kurtzworth, mom of one, has gone to lengths to make sure her holiday decorations are neatly stowed away for each back-to-back holiday – as well as birthdays, of course. She has put aside dedicated decoration cupboards with shoe boxes that list what décor is for what. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars on totes or plastic bins to store décor away, reusing shoe boxes, diaper and wipe boxes, and amazon boxes can help save the budget and keep your world a little more organized than it may have been before.
Try to Use the “One Thing” Poem
‘Tis the season of giving – lots and lots of everything and anything. Whether it be candy for Halloween, wine at Thanksgiving, or presents at Christmas, one thing is for sure – a mama’s bank account feels it. When all the budgeting methods have been worn out, trying this little poem that Heidi Hey-Scharback, mom of one, suggested could be the key when it comes to shopping for your little ones or family members:
“1 thing she wants,
1 thing she needs,
1 thing to wear,
1 thing to read.”
With that concept in mind, you may find yourself less overwhelmed with the need to buy every toy or high-tech product on the shelf. By cutting your search down to a want, a necessity, an outfit, and a book, you may spend more time with your family and less time racing through stores or piling items into your Amazon shopping cart.
Start a Recipe Binder
Food is a major part of most holidays – especially the back-to-back ones we are currently getting smacked in the face with. Halloween parties are sometimes filled with carefully decorated desserts while Thanksgiving and Christmas may come with fancy appetizers and many-course meals.
So, how do you stay sane when planning and preparing all those dishes?
Michele Graham, mom of two, not only stockpiles ingredients and prepares menus starting early in the fall, she also uses a recipe binder to help with organization. She keeps her menus, recipes, and holiday plans organized according to that specific holiday or occasion inside the binder. That way, when it comes time to really start cooking, she has everything she needs right in front of her.
Well, besides the ingredients, that is.
When you’re stressed, talk to someone. It’s plain and simple, but not always simply done. Speaking out about your anxieties can sometimes bring more life to them and that can be terrifying. Therefore, many people will push their stressors aside or try to ignore them when, doing that, they are only building them up.
I typically am not afraid to speak my mind or vocalize my emotions. However, lately, I have found myself layering them up inside my mind in hopes that they will disappear. Well, folks, holiday chaos comes every year and pushing that reality aside will not make the chaos any easier – this I know.
Therefore, I have been speaking up more often and discussing out about these inner frustrations more frequently. I also have decided to start counseling back up because I know it is beneficial to someone who has also struggled with depression and anxiety – even before the girls were born. Talking to a professional sometimes gives you the clarity you need to go home, grab that agenda or notepad, and start planning your holidays. When you have a clearer, appropriately functioning mindset, more gets done.
Communicating with others is important during the back-to-back holiday season, but communicating with your body is just as important. Being fully aware of yourself and your emotions is key to your mental stability. Enjoyable activity and movement brings forth positive feelings that can push your through your day and the holidays that follow.
Real-Life Mom References: Renee Saraceni, Michele Graham, Alyssa Kurtzworth, Heidi Hey-Scharbach
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, mama of twins, and a passionate freelance writer and author. She writes for Moms.com on a regular basis and has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, and In Good Health Newspaper. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings, and caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.
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