Pssst, mamas with strollers: over here. Past the “best” Santa for photos, and the coordinated ornaments, and sleigh rides, and cookie exchanges. Over here, near the baby changing table.
I want to tell you something. You don’t have to do it ALL this holiday. Not this year. Not right now.
Give yourself lots of grace. You are in a hard season of life, and it’s OK to just be there for it.
If it’s already difficult for you to simply go to the bathroom in peace, then of course getting dressed in coordinated dresses and bowties and having everyone look straight at the camera is a high expectation. It’s definitely possible, but it’s also probable that someone – maybe a kid, maybe you- will leave in tears. Give yourself grace.
Holiday traveling includes hauling along training pants, 25 changes of clothes, and three different kinds of sippy cups each with their own intricate mechanisms to clean. You’ve got naptimes and bedtime tantrums and if you can’t find your child’s favorite stuffy, no one is sleeping in the hotel that night. Not just your hotel room, the whole hotel. Give yourself grace.
It’s not you; it’s the life stage you’re in. Your kids will get older and you will be able to do more, more easily.
There will be a day when, if you are out of vanilla and eggs to make Christmas cookies, you can simply run to the store to get vanilla and eggs. This seems insane, I know, but apparently it’s true. That day is probably not today. Choose wisely if it is worth steering a 20-ft long fire truck shopping cart with a crying toddler past the candy aisle at checkout.
It’s your call, but be flexible.
You are already running a marathon everyday, and you are doing great. You are meeting needs – keeping tummies full, boo-boos bandaged, and bottoms clean. You are maintaining your mental health by eating chocolate in the garage. You are telling and showing your little ones everyday that you love them and they have a place to belong. This is what matters most.
Whatever else you do for the holidays is icing on the caramel cake.
Pick the traditions and events that make you happiest and go from there. Family is in it for the long haul, and you can start traditions at age 6…or 8… or 12 and it will still be meaningful. You can pick these traditions up – and make them up – as you go along.
And if you CAN do it all: that’s awesome, seriously and non-sarcastically. Go for it. Maybe you have the gift of excelling in chaos and/or cooperative children. But as someone with neither of these, I am so thankful to the person who spoke into my life at that time, “you don’t have to do it all, not right now.”
Now that my kids are a few years older, I see it for myself, and I’m re-gifting that message on down the line: give yourself grace this holiday.