Can you smell that in the air? Did you hear it in the not-so-distant future? When you looked at the calendar did you have a mini-panic attack? It’s that time of year again! Halloween costumes, apple cider, and leaf piles quickly followed by elastic pants, turkeys, sweet potatoes three ways, and then the grand holiday season finale of parties, too many treats for the kids, too much adult-ing for the parents, and before you know it, it’s the New Year.
It happens every single year but, like childbirth, we always seem to forget. It’s the holiday season and for those of us with kids, it can be the longest season of the year.
How we manage ourselves and our family through these few months is key to having a (reasonably) sane holiday season. Let’s talk about ways to keep your household (somewhat) organized before the madness of in-laws and presents.
Make lists and delegate.
When I flip the calendar from September to October, my mind starts listing everything that needs to get done through the rest of the year.
This year I ended September by hiring a cleaning crew (Yes, a crew. It had been a while since the house was deep cleaned and it was a bigger job than for just me.). I needed to know I could rely on them before the holiday influx of visitors and get on their calendar one more time pre-Thanksgiving and again pre-Christmas. With that knocked off the list, I looked further down the road.
- Halloween candy - ALWAYS delegated to my husband.
- Halloween costumes - Avoided this year. We’ll see about next year. Again, this may be delegated to my husband who is more creative and let’s face it, excited, about this holiday.
Trick or treaters are gone. Cue Christmas music. (Seriously, I don’t mess around!)
This is our first Thanksgiving so I am praying our 30-year old stove makes it through one more holiday season of baking. Hashtag fingers crossed.
- Thanksgiving - guest list and grocery list. The guest list is done and all are invited via phone, text, or in-person. We eat at 1pm. Be here or be hungry.
- Thanksgiving - day-of schedule - Delegate tasks like clearing clutter, organizing the dining room, and setting the table to the younger members of the family. We might even have them do this the night before and sit them in front of the television for the Macy’s Day Parade while we finish cooking dinner.
- Assign appetizers, rolls, and dessert to guests.
- Christmas decorating starts anytime in November.
And on the list goes through buying pajamas for New Year’s party that we do with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
The key to not losing my sanity is having the list so I know where we are in the process for each holiday. We keep gifts simple with electronics and/or cash for the older kids, sports equipment and games for the younger, and a short list for the adult relatives. Everyone else gets homemade cookies. And to be honest, the cookies may be the next to go except the stress of making them is part of my holiday DNA.
Keeping kids busy with their friends and grandparents allows parents the time to prepare for the days ahead. No family nearby? Check out school or church date nights that offer childcare or trade with another family so you each have the time to get ready. While it’s that time of year again, it doesn’t need to be stressful.