The countdown has begun. And with the countdown comes the frenzy, the hyped-up kids, and the insanity and chaos that is part of having three small children in December.
Some days I laugh right along with them, and other days I scream right along with them. It's a great time of year, but it's not without its challenges.
I'm making some attempts to streamline things a bit this year, though - starting with gifts. My boys will each have 5 presents to open Christmas morning. No more, no less. And their stockings will be full, but not overflowing.
I love buying them stuff, and I love watching them open that stuff and get so excited about it.
What I don't love is watching that stuff sit on a shelf for the next 6 or 9 months, barely used, and then end up in a box to be donated somewhere.
So I've forced myself to hold back, and I have to admit, it hasn't been easy. But every time I see something that I think I should grab for them, I make myself stop and really think about how much value it will have.
Will it actually get played with for a significant amount of time, or will it have a lifespan of three or four days before getting lost in the shuffle and forgotten?
Most of the time, when I truly think about it, I opt to not buy the item. And I don't feel bad about it at all. I feel good knowing that I'm carefully selecting things for them that I know they'll enjoy for a long time, instead of filling the house with junk that barely holds their attention for two weeks.
As a result, my Christmas shopping is nearly done! It's much easier when you limit yourself and make more thoughtful purchases.
Cookie baking has begun, also, and that's one thing I'm not scaling back on. I adore baking, and there are always teachers, family, and friends with whom I can share, so I'll start now and have a nice selection of treats in the freezer ready to be bagged, boxed, and distributed in a few weeks.
And one more small change I've made this year was actually an addition - but not one that induces stress on any level. I take no credit for the idea - I saw it several places online (other blogs, Pinterest, Facebook) - but I am so happy that I found it and implemented it (and I had fun making it, too!).
It's a countdown calendar, but instead of being filled with treats, each day has instructions for a special activity for us to do together.
I generated my list using a few different sources, but the majority of them came from this list.
We're on day 5, and I'm loving it - and so are the boys! Some of the activities are stuff we'd do anyway (making sugar cookies, decorating gingerbread houses), but others are new to us (making cards to send to soldiers, driving around at night in PJs to look at Xmas lights), so it's definitely adding a new twist to the holidays.
And it's a good reminder to me that these are the things the boys will remember, far more than they remember that this was the year they got the Lego Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle.
Full disclosure - they do also each have chocolate Advent calendars that I got for 99 cents at Trader Joe's. But happily, they seem more excited to check the other calendar every day!
Day 1 -Decorate the small tree we put up in their room
Day 2 - Make and send a Christmas card to a soldier
Day 3 - Make Christmas ornaments (we used a salt dough recipe, and will decorate them this weekend)
Day 4 - Breakfast-for-dinner picnic while watching a Christmas movie (Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town). Carmine is now up in his crib, singing "Toymaker to the king" over and over again - not the whole song, just those four words. Over and over and over and over and over.
Day 5 - Write a letter to a family member
Looking forward to the next 5 days : )