Category Archives: Holiday Tips

Simplify Your Life: The Anti-Pinterest Christmas

This post is a confession about my Christmas-based mommy guilt and the actions I’m taking to fix it. I came to the realization that less is more after reading this incredible article from VitaFamiliae. So put down that glue gun and turn off The Grinch and relax a little, moms. It’s okay…

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Oh, the Boards!

Yesterday as I was searching through my Pinterest boards looking for a crock pot lasagna recipe I wanted to try, I scrolled past the board full of Christmas crafts for kids. I also have a board titled “Ornaments to Make,” because I’m a sucker for those sketchy ornaments made of pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks that fall apart over the years.

Oh, and there’s my board of Christmas crafts for mommy {different from the one for children}. This board consists of Hobby Lobby-esque decor for me to DIY all by myself. And there’s the Christmas quilt board. I have a cabinet full of unused Christmas fabric that is screaming for a sewing project. I love Christmas, I love making memories for my kids, I love crafts, I’m addicted to Pinterest…You get the idea. I have a problem.

My Problem

My problem really isn’t the amount of Christmas themed Pinterest boards I have. Okay, maybe I am addicted to Pinterest. But really my problem is the guilt these pins bring me.

You see, I have found myself stuck in a vicious cycle of envy that happens by looking at other mom’s blogs. I see their cute blogs and their perfectly clean and smiling children engaged in imagination-sparking and memory-making activities, and I instantly feel gripped with fear that my kids won’t have the same special memories with me. So I pin the idea. It’s a cute idea. I get visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head when I picture my three cherubic children seated ’round the dining room table building a fortress out of gingerbread and icing. They smile and giggle and politely pass the gum drops…

Crashing back to earth, Buggy’s usually screaming and bossing at the other two. Miss Priss is whining because she can’t reach the roof, and her obsessive nature insists she MUST work on the roof and nothing else will do. And the baby is screaming and crying, covered head to toe in icing. It’s bad, ya’ll.

But the pins I pin don’t tell the real story of how it will work with my three. The pins just make me feel warm and fuzzy and happy and Christmasy.

Through the Years…

Our family has changed quite a bit over the past three years. Three years ago, I could dive head-first into all of those adorable crafts. But then, three years ago, I didn’t have a Pinterest account to make me feel guilty and horrible for skipping out on something. Last year I had a 3 year old and a newborn. I also had loads of guilt and bad feelings associated with the oh-so-perfect crafts I should have been doing.

I was exhausted, drained, delirious from lack of sleep and stress associated with having our first foster placement, and I beat myself up every single day thinking my son was never ever going to be whole unless he made those stupid handprint ornaments I pinned. Oh, and the coffee filter angels. And the felt Santa hats! And we had to get tickets to see the Polar Express! The list went on and on, and my blood pressure went up and up.

This year, I have three children under the age of 5. Starting on Saturday, we’ll be doing respite for another foster family for several days while they go out of town, so I’ll add a 6 month old to my crew for a little while. And yet, despite this obvious insanity that is my life and passion, yesterday when I ran across those Christmas boards, I felt a tingle of guilt in my stomach.

I want Christmas and the whole season to be perfect for my kids, and Pinterest has convinced me that the only way for it to be perfect is by doing more with them. As much as I can. Activity after activity. Craft after craft. Scripture-based Advents. Nativities made of clothes pins. Christmas movie marathons.

And I realized last night that none of that stuff really matters. My son really doesn’t enjoy crafts that much. He would much rather sit in my lap and read a Christmas book with me. The two little ones have never had a real Christmas, so even the simplest thing is exciting to them. No need for all the extra flash and fun. Picking out her very own stocking from the craft store the other day was enough to send Miss Priss into an excited/overwhelmed fit of happiness. It was enough to make me forget the fact that hers wasn’t handmade.

Stop Pressuring Yourself.

It really is okay to NOT do all of the adorable things you’ve pinned. Pour over them during nap time if you want, but remember my gingerbread house reality? That’s probably yours too. It ain’t pretty. Or fun. And it’s not good fodder for precious memories as a family.

But you know what is good memory fodder? Snuggling in your jammies with a book on the couch. Looking at your Christmas tree together and telling the stories behind each ornament. Looking through family photos of Christmas’s past. Writing letters to Santa. Reading from the book of Luke. Teaching your kids all of your favorite Christmas carols while you fix {a simple} lunch. THAT is worth remembering when they’re old and we’re long gone.

I’ve decided to put away the Pinterest boards for Christmas this year. There won’t be any crafts done. No ornaments made this year. Buggy loves the Elf on the Shelf tradition, so I’m doing that. It’s not something that stresses me out or makes me fret.

Most of all, I’m taking the pressure off myself to make everything look and feel perfect. The picture I shared is from Buggy’s first Christmas. We were so poor. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. His gifts were all either made or used. The wrapping paper didn’t match. In fact, I ran out of wrapping paper and just used newspaper for the rest of the gifts. We didn’t have very many ornaments on our tree, so we used some of the baby’s toys and tied strings around them and hung them from the tree. And that Christmas was absolutely precious to me. It was simple and wonderful.

Each year, I’ve put more and more pressure on myself to match or top that year, and I needed a serious wake up call. The simplicity is what made it so wonderful. So this year, we’re going back to simple. Back before I had Pinterest to stare at and blogs to enviously pour over. I’m not going to feel the pressure and guilt that I felt last year. I’m gonna relax.

I’ll tell ya right now, if you come to my house, don’t expect my gifts to be perfectly matching in parchment paper adorned with beautiful yarn ribbons like the pictures you see pinned on my board. I’m gonna buy that ugly snowman wrapping paper Buggy and Miss Priss went nuts over when they saw it at the Dollar Store the other day. And I’m doing it because it makes them smile, not because it’s picture-perfect or Pinnable.

Taking the pressure off myself this year makes me feel relieved and excited. Now I can focus on what really matters and who really matters. Not pins. Not trying to impress anyone with my craftiness. Just making my kids smile. That’s all I really wanted to do anyway. I just now realized it’s much easier than I thought.

Do you ever struggle with guilt from blogs or Pinterest pictures? Have you put pressure on yourself this Christmas to make it perfect? What steps are you going to take this year to simplify the holidays?

Kat

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Jasper, Our Elf on the Shelf

This year with everything going on with baby girl {and me being hit with a horrible stomach bug and then a cold}, Jasper hasn’t been very active. However, last year he was a real stinker, so I thought I would do a post sharing his antics with you to give you some cute Elf on the Shelf ideas for Christmas! Continue reading

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Holiday Mail for Heroes 2012

Last year my family and I participated in the Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program and we really loved knowing we were doing something special for our troops. These cards DO make it to the soldiers {despite what some internet rumors have said}. I even checked on snopes.com 🙂

All you have to do is buy a simple card {or make one yourself}, include a personal note of thanks or holiday wishes, sign it, and mail it to the following address:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Last year when I introduced this idea to my family, I was worried they might think it was a little cheesy, but I think everyone genuinely loved the idea of taking time out of our Thanksgiving day to thank the men and women who have sacrificed so much for us. I passed out cards to everyone at our Thanksgiving lunch, each person filled one out, then I bundled them all together in one large mailing envelope. We will certainly be doing this again this year. What a better way to teach our children how to reach out to others and show true gratitude?

Visit the Red Cross website {I linked to it above} for more details regarding the do’s and don’ts of your holiday cards. It doesn’t take much to make a soldier feel closer to those of us at home and to know that they are remembered this Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kat

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Adorable and Inexpensive Easter Centerpiece

This week I decided to try something I saw on Pinterest. I had a huge bag of pink jelly beans left over from my friend Sarah’s baby shower Continue reading

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Easter Book Recommends for Children

I’m actually really bummed right now. The number one book I was going to insist you have in your Easter book collection for kiddos appears to be completely out of print! Continue reading

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20 Ways to Give Back This Christmas

 

Every year at Christmas, our family looks for ways to practice generosity and selfless service. This year though, there have been so many causes on my heart that our budget simply can’t reach out to them all. We always donate to a local toy drive in our little town, as well as the Salvation Army Christmas Angel program. This year I’ve wanted to do so much more. I decided instead to share with all of you the wonderful ways I’ve discovered to reach out to those in need this year. Continue reading

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A Fair Trade Christmas

Today marks the first day of Advent. In Christian churches, this is a time celebrated between the last Sunday of November and Christmas Eve. The focus of this time is the anticipation of the second coming of Christ and reflection upon his first coming at Christmas. Some church denominations focus on the confession and repentance of sins at this time of year while others reflect joyfully on the initial arrival of our Lord and Savior. However your church celebrates, let me wish you a joyful Advent season. Continue reading

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