How I’ve Managed To Get A Handle On The Holidays Without Going Crazy

If you’ve been checking out my blog, or my personal Facebook page, for any length of time you’ve probably learned that I’m a bit of an organization freak. But being that organized helps me from having anxiety attacks, forgetting things and feeling overwhelmed when I think of everything I need (or sometimes, want) to do.

We’ve been doing the Christmas thing with at least one kiddo for six years now. Year one was pretty easy – I mean, he was 10 months old! Year two we broke out Elf on the Shelf.  He didn’t pay much attention to it but I had fun setting it up.  By year 3 he was totally into the Elf, who we’ve named Chippy, but I was largely pregnant with our youngest so I was kind of an Elf parenting fail that year.

For year 4 I decided that with two kids I needed a better plan.  So I made a family calendar that starts on Thanksgiving and goes until New Years Day! Over the span of these past three years I’ve gotten better and better about what should be on it (at least for our family) so I’ve decided to go ahead and share it with you this year. I’m sure next year’s will be even better and I’ll do my best to share in 2019 too!

Not only do we do Elf on the Shelf, but we also do Random Acts of Kindness.  My plan this year is to have Chippy bring our RAK card for the day.  Finger crossed I’ll be able to get all of the cards made and printed and ready to go by December 1st!

You’ll notice that I also list things I want D and I to do to get ready, family activities and just general housekeeping items.  Feel free to ignore those – I just didn’t want to create a whole new calendar to share.

This year I’m sharing PDFs of exactly what I’m printing out for my family.  MOST of it is self explanatory, but some of the Elf ideas may not be.  I’ll link to those that I can but for some I just plan on doing a quick Pinterest search as I’m doing my prep for the week.

One “word of caution,” for lack of a better expression – please remember that I do this to keep myself sane and that I’m sharing it as an easy way to share ideas for the upcoming season.  In no way do I think you HAVE to do something like this, or anything at all, during this time of year.  Honestly, I LOVE doing it.  That’s just who I am! If the thought of planning out your holidays overwhelms you, but you REALLY WANT to do it – then this post is 100% made for you!  If the thought of any of this makes you want to curl up in a ball and never come out – just skip right on past this post! Go and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or even a cookie in the bathroom if you’re having one of those days!

 

NOVEMBER CALENDAR:

DECEMBER CALENDAR:

And now for a little extra help with some of these Elf ideas:

Elf Arrival Door: Whew this was a fun project, well, kind of! I found all of the supplies at Hobby Lobby (or one of those crafting stores – I honestly forget where I went!) and the kids LOVED it!

Kissing Booth and Taking Chippy With Us: It doesn’t get easier than putting an elf in a mason jar y’all!

Snowball Fight: This will always be one of my favorites for some reason!

Here is a link to a few other ideas I’ve done over the years – maybe you’ll get some more inspiration there!

If you’d be interested in me sharing a printable for the Random Acts of Kindness cards I plan on making let me know and I’ll try to get something posted before the 1st of December for y’all too!

I really hope that this whole holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving this week because the bird gets his or her holiday too!, is amazing and magical and everything you want it be!

I Have Scary Internet Friends And I Can’t Imagine Life Without Them!

Several years ago I read a post about “Scary Internet Friends” – you know the ones you made online and may have never met in person.  It’s been so long I can’t find that original post but something about it still resonates with me.

Maybe that’s because I have my very own set of Scary Internet Friends – although I like to call them Unicorns Who Have Allowed Me To Survive Motherhood Friends! One group in particular is pretty darn special to me.  You see, a little over five years ago I was pregnant with Lucas and, thanks to low progesterone, had a tough first trimester. I spent hours unable to sleep at night browsing pregnancy forums and groups.  One day I was scrolling The Bump (yes, that crazy board!) and there was a post from “Christa” saying she had created a Facebook group for Mommas due in March of 2013.  I requested an invite and in a matter of weeks had this awesome group of 300 women there to support me, encourage me and even call me on my BS.

There is something pretty bonding about experiencing a pregnancy with someone – even if it’s only online. Now I know you must be thinking “300 women all in one place and all with crazy pregnancy hormones is a recipe for disaster!” And yes, you’re kind of right.  We certainly had our moments.  Friendships formed “off line” or in more private groups and chats. We had a LOT of differing options and let me tell you a FFFC (Flame Free Friday Confession for those of you not into social media/forums) post can sometimes be far from flame-free.  Then there was the great “JBB incident of 2013” where our group was kinda, sorta, maybe totally got “catfished” by someone. **Although I do want to say that I don’t think the intent of that woman was malicious and was more about issues she was battling, it certainly opened up my eyes to the reality of online friendships.**  We even had a major split after our kiddos were born, although I, thankfully, remain online friends with most of our original group and love seeing their kiddos grow.  There has been drama – lots of it.  But you know what, there has also been support, and love and friendship.  More of those three things than I can even measure.

It’s been over five years.  That original group is close to half the size it was at one point.  As a group we have been through the loss of a child and pregnancies, divorces, mental health emergencies, new babies, new marriages, cross country moves, major health issues (ours, our children and our loved ones), deaths of family members and so much more. We’ve watched our kiddos grow from days old to amazing almost 5 year olds.  We’ve suffered through endless temper tantrums and behavioral issues together and we’ve celebrated major milestones.  We’ve even helped pick out home decor or dresses for a special night out.

And I know you may be thinking it’s nuts.  I mean, how can you bond with someone you’ve never met.  I think part of it is we did have the security of sitting behind a computer.  We could be ourselves and not worry as much about rejection (some will say the opposite is true – that we became who we wanted to people others to see – but we’ve been together so long at this point I just don’t think that’s possible).  We formed real friendships in those moments. This group has made me look at parenting in ways I sometimes wasn’t comfortable with, but needed to.  They have, for sure, called me out when I was being unreasonable and stood by me, unconditionally, when I wasn’t.

Mommin’ is tough – seriously, most days there are challenging moments. And some days, there are ONLY challenging moments.  It’s easy to feel isolated and alone, even with friends living right next door.  This group has lessened that for me, times a million!  Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing village of women who are local to me as well that I also couldn’t do this motherhood thing without.  The friends who have a house you escape to when you just need a break.  Who seem to have an endless supply of chocolate, cake, or wine. I wouldn’t trade those friends for anything. But I’ll never give up my mommy groups either (I have another, smaller, group of women all due the same month I was with Andrew that I love as well).

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – It really does take a village to raise children.  Sometimes that village just happens to be a virtual one.

And to my March and January Moms: I love you all.  Thank you for your support and love.  Your advice and your compassion.  Your reality checks and your sideline cheering. Here’s to more years and milestones and memories together!  XOXO!

**And one more side note.  In that photo above, I’m actually logging into my March group to BEG someone to help me figure out why my normally sweet and adorable 20 month old has turned into such a difficult child.  I had intended to stage a super cute photo but after a 20 minute lunch battle full of throwing food, hitting, kicking, screaming and crying I was a sweaty and upset mess and just decided to go with it while I turned to my friends for support!