I have met so many mothers over the years who have a big let-down and feel depressed with birthdays and holidays. If you have been parenting for any length of time, you may have had some experience with any or all of the following:
- You cook all day for a meal eaten in a short period of time
- You spend weeks making homemade gifts for your children, (who may or may not appreciate them).
- You spend weeks or months planning a birthday party or holiday, and your child melts into a puddle or the gathering doesn’t go well.
- You spend so much time celebrating all the festivals of winter you feel depleted and exhausted.
- You say “yes” to everything you are invited to, thinking it will be nice for the children, but they are overloaded on sugar, out of their usual rhythm, overexcited, and their behavior is hard for you to manage.
This absolutely doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people really have simplicity for the holidays down pat or they have expectations that these things will surely happen along the way. I often think about my friends who have four to ten children or more – something is always happening, and I think mothers who have one to four children should also understand there is no such thing as perfect with holiday celebrations either!
Perhaps it is just the build up to holidays (and the subsequent let down) seems to happen much more now than it did when I was growing up. I think a lot of it has to do with Pinterest and Instagram and such. There is this notion that the mother should be working extra hard for everyone to have a nice holiday and it should be just so special that the likes of it have never been seen before!
I think there there are some simple things you can do to make the holidays enjoyable. If you can use this use this week, the week before Advent even begins, to see what you can do with the calender, the budget, and everything else, the holidays may be more enjoyable than ever before!
In Waldorf homeschooling families, this can be especially important for those celebrating many winter festivals – St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia, Winter Solstice, Christmas, the 12 days of Christmas, etc. This can be many days of preparation, even if you try to keep it simple! The goal is sustainability and fun!
So, here are some of the things I have mulled over and done in the past regarding holidays and fun:
Decide what the overall focus is….for our family, Advent and Christmastide are part of our religion and spiritual path of the year, so attending our place of worship is a priority, as is spending time together doing cozy things like crafting, baking, being in nature, kindness and service to others.
If you have small children under the age of 9, you are probably still establishing traditions. This doesn’t have to be done in one year; you can layer it over many years. Some traditions will change as your children become teenagers (and many traditions will stay and the teenagers will secretly love the traditions, even if they complain!)
Keep decorating super simple unless you absolutely love to decorate.
Keep food preparation simple for holiday meals and for the entire month of December. The crockpot or instapot is your friend. There are many healthy recipes out there!
If the holidays are about being together, how about doing it at home? Decide how many days you really want to commit to be out of the home. Factor in end of school performances, recitals, banquets and more. If there are many of these, then the rest of the time you may just want to be home.
What is your budget? If you override your budget and bring in the New Year financially poor, that is no fun. Keep gift-giving simple! What are the expectations for gift-giving in your family?
On the flip side, for Waldorf families who like to make everything and have a homemade Christmas – will it all be done? Is it feasible to do all of that on top of school in December (if you do school in December; many homeschooling families do not) and on top of all the other commitments?
Where is the time to just bake cookies, or just go outside for a walk in the crisp air or sit with a great book?
What can you do to keep bedtimes and mealtimes as rhythmic as possible despite travel, parties, or outside activities?
If you are traveling, do you have to? Would you like to just have a holiday at home? How far is the travel? Would it be easier to have family come to your house?
Make self-care a priority. I like Jamie Martin’s self care calendar for the introvert for Advent here. You can download it for free! I think everyone, not just introverts, need to protect themselves during the holidays.
Share with me your ideas for keeping the holiday season simple, manageable, and meaningful!
Blessings and love,
Thanks for this. I’m already starting to feel overwhelmed at making everything ‘perfect’ for my family. I need to take a step back and work out just what it is that I want everyone to remember – me being harassed and exhausted isn’t it!
Yes, just as social possibilities ramp up, I always find a “reason” to have a quiet, homey Advent. 😉
This year I am going simple. On festivals days, we will take the entire day off and do nothing but enjoy the festival rather than trying to have two main lessons plus baking and crafting and other festivities. And, we will be doing only two festivals–St. Nicholas and St. Lucia. I’d love to drop St. Lucia, but my daughter, and only girl, would declare mutiny. I am ending school earlier in the month than I have in past years. My first grader is doing his Angel Letters (vowels) block this month, and I decided to really make this Advent-related and live into the angels and stars in our stories and focus on that block rather than on the stones/plants/animals, etc. We will still read a story each day from The Light in the Lantern related to the them of the week, other than that, I’m not doing a big fancy circle time or other activities outside of main lesson, with the exception of *maybe* one stone/plant/animal activity per week, whereas in the past I tried to do at least two crafts plus a baking project every single week, again in addition to main lessons.
This is such a beneficial reminder and just like the warm hug I needed after a Thanksgiving that ended up being much busier than I would have liked. It can be hard sometimes when extended family so value the extrovert side of the spectrum and don’t really understand that even a few hours of a big family get together can be exhausting for our introvert family (with very little ones, too) and that we often need a little down time between visits. Thank you for this reminder that we aren’t crazy 😉
Aww, so glad you are here Kate, and I hope you find ways to celebrate the holiday that feel most meaningful to you!