Free spirits don’t always love being fenced in, but nothing feels better to an big-picture thinker than actually pulling off an ambitious dream. So give yourself the gift of a solid, workable plan that will make it possible to knock at least one of those optimistic goals out of the park. Then sit back, pour a cup of celebratory cocoa, and follow that impromptu plan wherever it takes you.
For those of you who struggle with perfectionism and over-planning, adding an activity in what feels like the 11th hour may seem crazy. But remember, sometimes the best traditions start with a spur-of-the-moment decision. Could you bundle up the kids and go on a “cocoa walk” at dusk to check out the holiday lights in your area? Grab a roll of slice-and-bake sugar cookie batter and some red-and-green sprinkles and plan a low-fuss (but still totally fun) kid-led, after-dinner cookie decorating session? Grab a holiday book or two and curl up for an unexpected afternoon read-aloud session? Remember, your plans don’t have to be perfect to be joyful.
Realizing you can’t – or just don’t want to – do it all, do it perfectly, or even just do the holiday just like you did last year, isn’t a failure: it’s a sign of sane motherhood. Plus, who wants to drag themselves across the holiday finish line with no energy left to enjoy the moment?
Sometimes the best systems and rituals come about by surprise, and holidays give us many opportunities to try things on. This year, let’s all try to stay open to new routines and rituals, especially when the simplest possible solution fixes the problem – and injects a dose of holiday joy.
Such a simple thing, a stocking stuffed with treats. But also the most consistent surprise I’ve been able to offer my kids, over 24 Christmases: some easy and abundant, some stressful and sparse. Who cares where the stockings were hung (or propped)? What mattered is they were there, filled with love. (And treats. Which, let’s face it, is 90% of what the kids care about, right?)
I’ve ushered five kids through various lengths and intensity levels of belief in magical beings, and this bit of wisdom has held true for every one of them: when a child wants to believe, you have to work pretty hard to convince them to stop. And when a child is ready to stop believing, you have to work pretty hard to convince them to hold on. My advice: don’t work too hard one way or the other, and you’ll meet your kids where they are.